Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion, dating back nearly 4,000 years. There are an estimated 14 million Jews worldwide, most of them living in the United States and Israel. About 40 percent of the world’s Jews – an estimated 5.3 million – live in the United States. Judaism is unique in that it encompasses both faith and ethnicity. It comprises theology, law and many cultural traditions. It is diverse in culture and religious practices.
It is important to be aware of the sensitivities of the faith communities. This requires proactivity on the part of journalists and news organizations. Seeking quick quotes and reaction from the most stereotypical perspectives reinforces bias and does not serve journalists well. Politically active Jewish groups can have widely differing opinions on public policy matters.
There are many denominations – sometimes referred to as streams, movements or branches – within Judaism, just as there are among Christian protestants. These are mainly distinguished by their philosophical approaches to Jewish traditions, and their degree of adherence to and interpretation of traditional Jewish law. The three largest Jewish movements in the United States are Reform (with which about 35 percent of Jews identify), Conservative (about 18 percent), and Orthodox (about 10 percent). Other groups make up the remaining portion.
Journalists are best served by cultivating multiple sources within various local Jewish communities and maintaining regular contact.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs is a community relations organization that facilitates conversations about various issues to define positions and develop strategies, programs, and approaches that advance the public affairs goals and objectives of the organized Jewish community.
Anti-Defamation League is a social justice organization that fights anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.