Documensch May 2024

Hello and welcome to the May edition of the Documench Newsletter. In the American Jewish world (and pretty much everywhere else), it has been another tumultuous month. There was another congressional hearing on antisemitism on college campuses, many academic workers across the University of California System went on strike over freedom of expression and safety concerns of pro-Palestinian protesters, Sonoma State’s President was suspended, and even public universities in Florida feel unsafe for Jewish students. Meanwhile, the Israel-Hamas war rages on amidst a cacophony of condemnation from activists, international legal bodies, and the families of the dead and captive. 

In times like these—and in most times, really—we find a sliver of solace in facts, solid research, and the belief that we might learn something by examining the past. This month, we focus on research in the American Jewish community with the hope that we can better understand the implications of this moment. We interview Mimi Kravets of the Jewish Federation of North America about the JFNA’s commitment to research, and findings from a recent study of American Jews. And we offer a research roundup from across the American Jewish world because Jews, if anything, value study. And we value studying ourselves most of all. 

As always, reach out with feedback, suggestions of articles we should consider sharing, or ideas for documents we should consider archiving. We can be reached at

Thanks for reading,


Ari Y Kelman, Director, Berman Archive

Interview: Jewish Research, Federated

This month we interview Mimi Kravetz, Chief Impact and Growth Officer of the Jewish Federations of North America. We discuss JFNA’s commitment to research, findings from a recent study of American Jews, and more.

Tell us about your role at Jewish Federations of North America.

As the 146 Jewish Federations and hundreds of smaller “network” communities in our system seek to keep building and strengthening Jewish communal life in North America, we have to stay attuned to the ever-changing nature of our communities, both at the local level and across our countries.  

As Chief Impact & Growth Officer, I lead the team that systematically gathers and uses data, research, and insights to inform and grow the success of individual Federations, the Federation system, and the Jewish communal network to help build those flourishing Jewish communities. We collect and analyze data from Federations, run local and national surveys, and then educate others on the findings while supporting their local implementation.

How has your work changed since October 7? 

Jewish Federations’ investment in our data infrastructure and research methodology over the last few years has uniquely positioned us to understand what’s happening in North America’s Jewish communities in this critical moment. In the immediate aftermath of 10/7, we identified two primary ways we could use our data system to support our colleagues in responding to this crisis. 

First, we learned from our recent analysis of the Ukraine Emergency response, that in a crisis we need to communicate consistent frameworks upfront and report to Federations and partners on our impact in real time. We have been deeply engaged in tracking our system-wide fundraising and allocations to report on impact. We have been publishing the findings (view a recent bi-weekly allocations report here), and published an Israel Emergency Impact Report (linked here) with data from our system-wide Israel emergency allocations between Oct 7 and Dec 31, 2023. A next phase investor report is coming soon.

Second, we know that Jewish life in North America has fundamentally changed since October 7th. Using a methodology that we developed over the last few years to run community pulse surveys at scale, we have run 3 surveys of the American Jewish Community since Oct 7th. The findings revealed how the American public and Jews are relating to the war today, how people are perceiving the rise in antisemitism, and what we understand about the related surge in Jewish community engagement. The studies are leading to meaningful discussions amongst Federation and Jewish communal colleagues about how we respond to these new communal needs.

You recently released a new report, what are some key insights?

October 7th was a watershed moment in Jewish life in North America and has changed everything. The key source of the changes that we can see in this new survey are: 

-A new and increasing sense of vulnerability leading to emotional impact not only based on the events of October 7th in Israel, but also based on rising antisemitism at home.

-A decreasing sense of comfort expressing Jewish identity in the US including security concerns especially from those who wear objects that visibly identify them as Jewish, and speaking to non-Jews in secular spaces about Judaism and Zionism in particular.

-Finally, and as a result, a deeper desire to be in community with other Jews leading to a surge in Jewish engagement with people seeking learning and friendships at synagogues, schools, camps, community centers and many other Jewish communal organizations of all types.

Read the Full Interview

Jewish Research Roundup May 2024

By Stella Rose Meier, Berman Archive Fellow

As we close out May, the Berman Archive’s Research Roundup covers notable Jewish publications from recent months. October 7 and its impacts on American Jewish life remain a prominent focus of emerging research, but we also shed light on more traditional aspects of Judaism.

In March, the Online Hate Prevention Institution (OHPI) published two extensive reports analyzing global online antisemitism before and after Oct. 7. Reviewing social media platforms including X, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, researchers organized online hate into four categories: Holocaust-related antisemitism, Israel-related antisemitism, traditional antisemitism unrelated to Israel, and incitement to antisemitic violence. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the daily rate of new Israel-related antisemitic content has increased by over 1000%––the most out of the four groupings. For context, the daily rate of overall antisemitism has increased by 537% across all social media platforms. Telegram, X, and other platforms with minimal moderation exhibited higher rates of antisemitism. The reports conclude with recommendations for online platforms to improve the regulation of antisemitic content.

Results from the American Jewish Committee’s 2023 survey on national antisemitism underscore increasing antisemitism and complement the OHPI reports: 

  • 62% of American Jews encountered online antisemitism in the past year, and 22% of those people felt physically threatened by such content. 
  • 46% of American Jews admitted to altering their physical behavior to protect against acts of antisemitism. 
  • On college campuses, 1 in 4 Jews avoided outwardly displaying anything that could identify them as Jewish.

The impact of the Israel-Hamas war on American Jewish education transcends the topical urgency of college campuses. As Primza reports, enrollment inquiries at North American Jewish day schools and yeshivas have recently surged. Many of these inquiries have come from Israeli families looking for temporary school transfers for their children. The primary motivations for inquiries include the desire for a Jewish environment (73%), a fear of antisemitism in existing communities (68%), and students’ current school responses regarding the war (32%). Within the two months following Oct. 7, over 1,037 Israeli students temporarily enrolled in 110 North American Jewish day schools and yeshivas. Many schools struggled to meet the needs of this influx of students: 68% needed additional English language specialists and 29% suffered mental health staff shortages.

As Mimi Kravetz highlights above, the Jewish Federations of North America just released a national survey of Jewish and General Sentiment of the Israel-Hamas War.

Beyond the prism of Oct. 7, but keeping it not too far from mind, the Ruderman Family Foundation explores how identity and experiential factors influence giving in its 2022 summary on American Jewish Philanthropy. Key findings reveal that Jews who have faced antisemitism give a total of nearly ten times as much as Jews who have not, with annual average donations at $35,425 and $3,726 respectively. Additionally, Jewish households that greatly value their Jewish identity are more likely to give a gift to Israel-focused organizations. Although the report summarizes data predating Oct. 7, it is valuable to contemplate how these preexisting trends will translate to 2024. 

One throughline this recent research shows is that American Jewish life has simultaneously been disrupted and honed through the events of past months. Oct. 7, coupled with the well-documented rise in antisemitism, provides a compelling lens through which to understand some of the most central pillars of American Jewish life: expression of identity, association with community, honoring faith and tradition, and tzedakah.


We preserve collections from
a diversity of perspectives.

If you have suggestions for new collections, want to support us financially, or want to share constructive feedback, drop us a line.



Get monthly American Jewish news with connections to the Berman Archive.

By submitting your information, you agree to receive updates and news from the Berman Archive in accordance with the Stanford privacy policy.