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Center for Policy Studies
Public Affairs Discussion Group

What the Jewish Experience Tells Us About Religion in America Today

Peter J. Haas, Ph.D. - Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies and Chair, Department of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University

Friday March 21, 2014
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

At the beginning of October, The Pew Religion & Public Life Project released a poll that reported that the proportion of U.S. adults who identified their religion as Jewish had declined, since the late 1950s, by "about half." "A little less than 2%" of U.S. adults identify as Jewish. And this is related to the fact that 22% of Jews "now describe themselves as having no religion."

This was met by much kvetching, worry about intermarriage, and the like. The level of Jews who married outside the faith (or is it ethnicity?) rose from 35% in 1970-74 to 58% in the current century. Intermarried Jews are much less likely to be raising their children as Jews.

Yet one might remember that intermarriage can lead to some conversion, and raises the possible number of Jewish households. As one commentator suggested, American Jews who marry Christians might not "see themselves as marrying out, and the non-Jewish partner often sees himself as joining." Is intermarriage really a sign of doom? He added, "Years ago you had to be insane to want to be a Jew... What, do you want to see a pogrom from the inside?"

And as the Pew report itself noted, "Americans as a whole - not just Jews - increasingly eschew any religious affiliation." The shares of both all and the age 18-29 group among Jews who express no religion is very similar to the levels within the general public. One of the less-appreciated aspects of U.S. politics is that, as religious divisions have become more central to partisanship, and fundamentalist Christianity a more visible force, the proportion of voters who are not religious also has risen.

Hence the survey data about Jews raises larger questions about religion and society in the United States. Please join us as Professor Haas addresses both aspects of the issues raised by the Pew research.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest

Peter Haas received his Bachelor of Arts in ancient Near East history from the University of Michigan in 1970, after which he attended Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, receiving ordination as a Reform rabbi in 1974. After ordination, he served as an active U.S. Army chaplain for three years and then remained in the Army National Guard for another 19 years.

Upon completion of active duty, Rabbi Haas enrolled in the graduate program in religion at Brown University, earning a Ph.D. in Jewish studies in 1980. He joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University in 1980, where he taught courses in Judaism, Jewish ethics, the Holocaust, Western religion, and the Middle East Conflict.

Dr. Haas moved to Case Western Reserve University in 2000 and was appointed chair of the Department or Religious Studies in 2003. During this time he also was a visiting professor at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, Ill.

Professor Haas has published several books and articles dealing with moral discourse and with Jewish and Christian thought after the Holocaust. He has continued to teach courses on Western Religion (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and on the religious, historical and social context of the current Middle East crises. He has lectured in the United States, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Israel. His most recent book is on human rights in Judaism.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 28: Muslims in the United States. With Justine Howe, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. ***Alternate Site: Kelvin Smith Library, Lower Level, Room LL06 B/C. ***

April 4: The “Problem” of Teen Mothers. With Mary Erdmans, Associate Professor of Sociology.

April 11: Is the Federal Government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States Anti-Asian? With Timothy Webster, Assistant Professor of Law and Director, East Asian Legal Studies. ***Alternate Site: Mather House Room 100.***

April 18: Is Cleveland Dying?
With John A. Begala, Executive Director, Center for Community Solutions.

April 25: Pope Francis: So Far. With Paul V. Murphy, Professor of History and Director, Institute of Catholic Studies, John Carroll University
March 17, 2014

If you would like to reply, submit items for inclusion, or not receive this weekly e-mail please send a notice to:

Upcoming Events

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Putting an End to Separate and Unequal Health Care in the United States 50 Years After the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Thursday March 27, 2014, 9:00 a.m.-4:10 p.m., Friday March 28, 2014, 9:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Moot Court Room (A59), Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106-7148. Sponsored by the The Law Medicine Center Symposium and co-sponsored by The Case Western Center for Reducing Health Disparities.

With the enactment of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal law mandated that all races had the right to equal enjoyment and access to health care. Fifty years later, access to health care remains separate and unequal. Decades of research, including the Institute of Medicine's 2003 report on "Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare," suggest that racial bias in health care is one of the root causes of racial disparities in health between African Americans and Caucasians. Over two days, the Law-Medicine Symposium will investigate the extent of and possible responses to racial bias in health care, with a program featuring leading legal, medical, social science, and public health scholars, physicians, policy makers, and community leaders. They will present current research and then break into working groups to develop concrete legal, medical, and policy solutions. By the end of the Symposium, there will be an action plan to put an end to racial bias in health care that causes racial disparities in health care.

Among the participants will be David Smith, Ph.D., Research Professor in the Center for Health Equality and the Department of Health Management and Policy, Drexel University; Mary Frances Berry, Ph.D., Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania; Barbara Sears, Ohio State Representative, Johnnie “Chip” Allen, Director of Health Equity, Ohio Department of Health; Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer for Stroger Hospital of Cook County Health and Hospital System; Dr. Camara Jones, Senior Fellow, Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine; and Dr. Michelle van Ryn, Professor and Director of the Research Program on Equity and Quality in Provider-Patient Encounters, Mayo Clinic.For further information visit the lecture web site for this program.

March 2014







































About the Friday Lunch Newsletter

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