The survey asked Jewish lay leaders and community professionals questions regarding future community priorities, identifying the main threats to Jewish life, views on the safety and security situation in their cities, including emergency preparedness, and opinions on an array of internal community issues. Examples include conversions, membership criteria policies on intermarriage, and their vision of Europe and Israel.
The respondents were comprised of presidents and chairpersons of nationwide “umbrella organizations” or Federations; presidents and executive directors of private Jewish foundations, charities, and other privately funded initiatives; presidents and main representatives of Jewish communities that are organized at a city level; executive directors and programme coordinators, as well as current and former board members of Jewish organizations; among others.
The JDC International Centre for Community Development established the survey as a means to identify the priorities, sensibilities and concerns of Europe’s top Jewish leaders and professionals working in Jewish institutions, taking into account the changes that European Jewry has gone through since 1989, and the current political challenges and uncertainties in the continent. In a landscape with few mechanisms that can truly gauge these phenomena, the European Jewish Community Leaders Survey is an essential tool for analysis and applied research in the field of community development.
The Survey team was directed by Dr. Barry Kosmin (Trinity College), who has conducted several large national social surveys and opinion polls in Europe, Africa and the U.S., including the CJF 1990 US National Jewish Population Survey.
concern European Jewish communities in 2015, and about their expectations of how communities will evolve over the next 5-10 years. The 45 questions (see Appendix) dealt
with topics that relate to internal community structures and their functions, as well as the external environment affecting communities. The questionnaire also included six open-ended questions in a choice of five languages. These answers form the basis of the qualitative analysis of the report. The questions were organized under the following headings:• Vision & Change (6 questions)
• Decision-Making & Control (1 question)
• Lay Leadership (1 question)
• Professional Leadership (2 questions)
• Status Issues & Intermarriage (5 questions)
• Organizational Frameworks (2 questions)
• Community Causes (2 questions)
• Jewish Education (1 question)
• Funding (3 questions)
• Communal Tensions (3 questions)
• Anti-Semitism/Security (5 questions)
• Europe (1 question)
• Israel (1 question)
• Future (2 questions)
• Personal Profile (9 questions)
The research found that Israel plays a central role for British Jews, with 93% saying the Jewish state plays a “central”, “important” or “some” role in their Jewish identity, and 90% supporting Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It reflected significant concerns about the security situation in Israel with many respondents ambivalent about withdrawal from the West Bank because of security concerns (50% vs 33% support the proposition that “Israeli control of the West Bank is vital for Israel’s security”), despite commitment to a two-state solution.
75% stated that settlement expansion formed a “major” obstacle to peace. 68% endorsed the statement “I feel a sense of despair every time Israel approves an expansion of the settlements”.
73% felt that Israel’s current approach to the peace process has damaged its standing in the world.
There is strong support for Israel to “cede territory” in order to achieve peace (62% for, 25% against). But if withdrawal is seen as posing a risk to Israel’s security, the majority then oppose withdrawal (50%:33%).
61% felt that the Israeli government’s first priority should be “pursuing peace negotiations with the Palestinians. 64% felt they had the right to judge Israel’s actions though they do not live there.
58% agree with the statement that Israel “will be seen as an apartheid state if it tries to retain control over borders that contain more Arabs than Jews” (22% disagree).
Almost 80% of respondents consider that, in the context of the conflicts raging around the world, those who condemn Israel’s military actions “are guilty of applying double standards”.
“Hawks” on Israel significantly overestimated how widely their views were shared by a factor of two while “doves” underestimated theirs by 10%. British Jews who believe Palestinians have no claim to own land think their views are shared by 49% of British Jewry, despite the actual figure being 14%.
Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad said of the findings of the report:
“The community is shifting. Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream not marginal positions. The research shows we are more willing to speak out on these issues than ever before. Members of Anglo-Jewry who have previously been afraid to give voice to their concerns over Israeli government policy, should realise that they are in fact part of the majority.
This is against the backdrop of a Jewish community that remains fully committed to Israel and its centrality to Jewish identity.”
This report describes the process and results of a research study on Jewish identity and community participation in Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, it identifies trends among Jewish adults in Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania. This two-year and wide-reaching study, examined views on religious observance, Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, Israel, Jewish knowledge, and organizational affiliation among 1,270 Jews, ages 18-60.
Overall it was found that 43 per cent of the sample felt a strong attachment to Israel, 38 per cent were moderately attached, 16 per cent expressed no special attachment, while 3 per cent had negative feelings towards Israel.
When respondents selected one of the following ways of self-identification, 18 per cent replied that they felt 'more British than Jewish', 54 per cent that they felt 'equally British and Jewish' and 26 per cent that they felt 'more Jewish than British'. Only 2 per cent were unsure.
Statistically significant differences are found by sex (women are more strongly attached than men), age (older age groups are more strongly attached than the young) and region.The findings also demonstrated a strikingly clear pattern of strengthening attachment to Israel as the degree of commitment to traditional Judaism rises.
The findings point to the significance of experiencing Israel for younger people. The young have a psychological and emotional deficit that has to be compensated for by visiting Israel.