The ASSJ Promotes and Enhances the Social Scientific Study of Jews Around the World
As an interdisciplinary organization, we bring together social scientists who work in both academic and applied settings. We study Jews from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives.
To carry out our mission, the ASSJ:
- Creates opportunities for networking and collaboration among our members through conferences and online forums;
- Recognizes and publishes scholarly work in the field;
- Encourages the dissemination and use of social science research in applied contexts;
- Promotes high-quality research in our field;
- Advocates for integrity and transparency in conducting and reporting social research;
- Provides mentoring and financial support to young scholars.
Registered Members Access Additional Resources
Our members represent the wide range of social science and adjacent disciplines, including sociology, social psychology, demography, geography, political science, economics, anthropology, education, history and social work.
Many of our members are academics, but they also include independent and communal researchers, policy analysts, communal professionals, and activists. They are engaged in a wide range of scholarly activity, applied research, and the links between them.
Our membership is global, with members from North America, Latin America, Israel, Europe, Africa, and Australasia.
Membership benefits include a subscription to the ASSJ journal, Contemporary Jewry; access to our listserv; the opportunity to list yourself in our Find an Expert section; and a community of welcoming colleagues dedicated to intellectual exploration and discourse, professional support and engagement, and diverse understandings of contemporary Jewry.
|President||Judit Bokser Liwerant, National Autonomous University of Mexico|
|Vice President and Interim Treasurer||Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Rosov Consulting|
|Secretary||Bruce Phillips, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion|
|At-large board members||Mijal Bitton, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America|
|Bethamie Horowitz, independent researcher|
|Ilana Horwitz, Tulane University|
|Lilach Lev Ari, Oranim Academic College|
|Dalia Wassner, Brandeis University|
|Contemporary Jewry editor||Harriet Hartman, Rowan University|
|Immediate past president||Leonard Saxe, Brandeis University|
|European representative||Jonathan Boyd, Institute for Jewish Policy Research|
|Israeli representative||Rachel Sharaby, Ashkelon Academic College|
|Latin American representative||Yael Siman, Universidad Iberoamericana|
|Australian and New Zealand representative||David Graham, University of Sydney and Institute for Jewish Policy Research (UK)|
|Student representative||Amir Segal, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem|
History of the ASSJ
By Arnold Dashefsky and Chaim Waxman
The Association for the Sociological Study of Jewry (ASSJ; now, Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry), was founded in 1971, as one of a number of special-interest associations within the field, such as the Association for the Sociology of Religion, the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and the Association of Black Sociologists. All of them were founded to fill a perceived gap in the discipline. As recalled by Harold Himmelfarb, a former president, the ASSJ was meant to provide a forum for “scholars interested in the social scientific . . . study of Jewry,” and in particular to “encourage and support scholars who were interested in doing work in the area, because it was not a mainstream sub-discipline in either the social sciences or in Jewish studies.”
There were a number of factors, some connected to American society and others to specifically issues, that led to the establishment of the ASSJ at that particular juncture. The preceding decade had been characterized by broad social activism in American society. Toward the end of the 1960s, a growing number of committed Jews had become involved in the ongoing protest campaigns on behalf of Soviet Jews wishing to emigrate, as well as in efforts to alleviate the situation of the Jewish poor in America's cities.
Within academia, there was widespread rejection of the rigid, “values-free” approach within sociology in favor of more intensive engagement in matters of race and ethnicity. Indeed, American society as a whole was characterized at this time by heightened ethnic consciousness (for Jews, the watershed event was the Six-Day War of June 1967). The late 1960s was also marked by a heightened religious consciousness, which appeared to spell an end to previous discussions concerning “the death of God” or America as a secular society.
Among Jewish college and university students there appeared to be emerging a new breed of Jews, some of whom were survivors of the Holocaust or the children of survivors, many of them Orthodox or traditional Conservative in religious orientation, who were proud to be “Jewish Jews.” Notable among these were individuals who had gone to Jewish summer camps, who belonged to Zionist or synagogue youth movements, and/or were members of Jewish student organizations such as Hillel or Yavneh. One of the main outcomes of this heightened Jewish identification was the establishment and rapid proliferation of Jewish studies courses and programs. Organizationally, it was reflected in the founding, in 1969, of a specifically Jewish academic association, the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). By the end of its first year, 2000, AJS had about 1,400 members and it grew to 1,881 members by 2011.
Another significant factor which provided fertile ground for the emergence of the ASSJ was the enhanced ties between Jewish communal agencies and scholars engaged in Jewish social research projects. Prominent among such projects was the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), which was first conducted in 1970–1972 under the auspices of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJF). The existence of an organization such as the ASSJ came to be viewed as providing a reservoir of social scientists help analyze and disseminate the data, which would then serve as an important planning tool for CJF and other communal agencies. At the same time, it was hoped that such data would also further social science research. As it turned out, no full-scale analysis of the first NJPS ever appeared. However, several important reports were issued in the wake of the survey, and from the mid-1970s until the 1990s, these reports were the major source of empirical data for the growing social scientific literature on American Jews.
Norman Friedman's article, "Conception and Birth of the Association for the Sociological Study of Jewry: A Case Study of Associational Formation," provides more details about the ASSJ's founding.