February 13, 2013 — The University of Miami’s Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and the George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences announce the return to print of The American Jewish Year Book (Springer), the annual record of American Jewish Civilization.
After a four-year hiatus, the newly released American Jewish Year Book (AJYB) contains important findings about the Jewish population in the United States. Despite concerns about the decline in the Jewish community’s numbers, figures in the AJYB indicate that the numbers remain stable at approximately 6.5 million, according to Ira Sheskin, UM professor of geography and regional studies, director of the Miller Center’s Jewish Demography Project, and co-editor of the year book. This is important in view of the continuing debate over which community—Israel or the United States—has the world’s largest Jewish community. Another important finding is the increase in the number of Jews, 500,000, who identify themselves as secular members of a community rather than as Jews by religion.
AJYB was published annually from 1899 to 2008. Its 108 volumes have served as a major resource for information about the North American Jewish communities for Jewish leaders, universities, libraries, and Jewish institutions. For more than a century, AJYB was the premiere place for leading academics to publish long review chapters on topics of interest to the North American Jewish community. The work also documented the changing demography and institutional structure of the Jewish community. Publication stopped after the 2008 edition due to changes in the industry and economy, but has resumed with a 2012 edition, released in January 2013.
“Academics, policymakers, and professionals studying the Jewish Community in North America were all saddened after publication of the American Jewish Year Book ended,” said Haim Shaked, UM professor and director of the Miller Center. “We at The Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies were delighted that we could help restart its publication. Internationally, this puts us in the top academic tier.”
Sheskin said that the AJYB is more than a publication providing lists of information. “It’s a historical record of the Jewish people in North America, and recording it in this way allows people to compare the data year after year, to see how Jewish life has changed—What college Judaic studies programs existed from one year to another, for example.” In addition to the traditional hardbound printed edition, the 600-page AJYB will be available in both digital format and soft-cover.
On Tuesday, February 12 at 8 p.m. the Miller Center will host a special evening of events to celebrate the renewed publication of the AJYB. The evening includes a reception and special greetings from Thomas J. LeBlanc, UM executive vice president and provost, and Brian D. Siegal, American Jewish Committee director, Greater Miami and Broward Region.
Three contributors to the current AJYB will speak: Sheskin, who will present “The Future of the Jewish Population of the United States,” University of Connecticut Professor and AJYB co-editor Arnold Dashefsky, who will speak on “The Legacy of the American Jewish Year Book,” and Trinity College Professor Barry Kosmin, who is author of the AJYB chapter titled “Jewish Life beyond the Synagogue: American Jewish Secularism.”
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