It is difficult to keep track of the more than 2,000 organizations and 700 federations that operate in many cities, towns, and neighborhoods, and of course, the thousands of synagogues. The Jewish community finds expression and fulfillment in a tremendous range of associations and institutions. Many of these inevitably overlap, so there is a considerable degree of duplication.
The Jewish Federations of North America network, formerly known as United Jewish Communities, is the strongest umbrella organization in terms of allocation of funds and national planning. Various education and welfare boards are connected to it, and it also embraces Canada. Jewish Federations currently comprise 157 local Jewish federations and 400 independent Jewish communities. Together, they raise and distribute more than US$ 3 billion annually for social welfare services and Jewish educational activities. The federation movement ranks among the top 10 charities on the continent.
Each of the three main religious denominators – Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform – has its own national association of synagogues and rabbis. The Orthodox Union (OU) also manages the supervision of much of the kosher food produced in the United States. The union has its own rabbinical conference, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and a youth movement. The RCA is ideologically close to the religious Zionist stream.
There is also a Union of Orthodox Rabbis (Agudath Harabonim) as well as other Orthodox rabbinical groups identified with the Satmar, Chabad Lubavitch and other Chassidic groups.
The Conservative movement is led by the Rabbinical Assembly, which has around 1,600 rabbis world-wide as members.
The Reform movement in North America is represented by the Union for Reform Judaism. The rabbinical union of the movement is called the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
The small Reconstructionist stream has its own federation, the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, and a college of rabbis, the Rabbinical School of Reconstructionist Judaism, which is based in Philadelphia, PA.
Among the leading voluntary Jewish organizations in the United States are two Jewish advocacy groups: the American Jewish Committee, established by Jews of Russian origin in 1906, and the American Jewish Congress, which was founded in 1918 by Rabbi Stephen Wise, who in 1936 co-founded the World Jewish Congress, together with Nahum Goldmann. The B'nai B'rith Jewish brotherhood was founded in 1843 by German immigrants and today focuses on mainly social and welfare activities. There is a large variety of Jewish organizations focusing on specific issues.
On university campuses across the US, there are active Hillel chapters.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in 1913 as a B'nai B'rith committee to combat anti-Semitism, and today operates as an independent organization. In terms of membership, the largest organization is Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which has some 270,000 members world-wide, mostly women.The community's main fundraising instrument is the annual campaign of the Jewish Federation system. Today, the majority of money that is collected is used to meet the domestic needs of American Jewry. About 30 percent is donated to Israel through the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Jewish Federations also finance the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which alleviates the hardships of many Jews and Jewish communities around the world.
As a group, American Jews have been very active in civil rights movements. In the mid-20th century, Jews were among the most active participants and supporters of the black civil rights movement.
Moreover, Betty Friedan wrote her 1963 book 'The Feminine Mystique', which is sometimes credited with sparking the second wave of feminism, and was the first of many prominent American Jewish feminists which extended into the feminist third wave. American Jews have also since its founding been largely supportive of, and active figures in, the struggle for gay rights in America.
Only about 15 percent of Jewish children attend Jewish day schools. There are more than 300 Orthodox day schools and more than 50 Conservative ones. Most of the schools of the Reform movement are affiliated with synagogues and only have classes on Sunday. There are two major institutions of higher learning under Jewish auspices: Yeshiva University in New York City and Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
There are also several smaller Jewish colleges and specialized institutes. Many non-sectarian and Christian universities also have programs of Jewish studies. Moreover, there are a number of rabbinical seminaries and teacher-training institutions. Of the former, the most noteworthy are the Isaac Elchanan Seminary connected to Yeshiva University (Orthodox), the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative), and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform). Some of the most outstanding Jewish libraries in the world are located in the United States.
The American Jewish press is characterized by its great diversity. Virtually every organization has its own organ or bulletin. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) has correspondents around the world and services many local Jewish monthlies or weeklies and produces free online news bulletins on its website.
There are about 80 Jewish weeklies and several dozen monthlies and quarterlies, including 'Forward', 'The Jewish Week', the 'Baltimore Jewish Times', and the 'Jewish Exponent'.
Of the once great Yiddish press only a scant number of publications remains. A number of publishers specialize in Jewish works, and many of the non-Jewish publishing houses also print books on Jewish themes. In almost all large Jewish communities there are Jewish radio and television programs, e.g. 'Shalom TV'. However, the leading source of Jewish and Israeli news is the general American media and its major newspapers.
American Cities with Largest Jewish Populations
New York City, NY: 2,000,000
Los Angeles, CA: 662,000
Miami, FL: 555,000
Philadelphia, PA: 275,000
Chicago, IL: 294,000
Boston, MA: 250,000
San Francisco, CA: 304,000
Washington, DC & Baltimore, MY: 217,000
New York: http://www.nytimes.com/
Los Angeles: http://www.latimes.com/
San Francisco: http://www.sfgate.com/
Washington D.C.: http://www.washingtontimes.com/