11 Short Essays On The Issues That Defined The Decade


We asked a number of prominent Jewish writers and thinkers — historians Gil Troy and Dov Waxman, academics like Roberta Kwall, Rabbi David Wolpe, feminist journalist Susan Weidman Schneider, and Yiddishist Rokhl Kafrissen, to name a few – to write about the major themes of the past decade. See their observations below; it’s a heady look at a fractured Jewish community, innovations in worship, the impact of the #MeToo movement, and Israel during the Bibi years.

But wait, there’s more: Jewish Week staff have gathered some of their best reporting from the past 10 years, and assembled a timeline of events.

The Grand Chasm: Trump’s Polarizing Tenure

That some proud Jews hail Donald Trump as the “first Jewish president,” while others call him an anti-Semite, tells much about Trump — and even more about Jews today.
Gil Troy

Communities Without Walls Develop Online

Over the decade, Jews migrated online and built virtual communities, accessible to anyone in the world with an internet connection.
Lev Gringauz

We are at a moment of critical transition. Almost seamlessly, the children and grandchildren of the survivors have taken on the principal responsibility for preserving and perpetuating our parents’ and grandparents’ memories as a hallowed inheritance, one that we, in turn, must transmit to our and future generations.
Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Climate Crisis And Commitment

The decade began with climate scientists and activists arguing about changes we urgently needed to make in order to prevent future tragedies. By the end of the decade the future was now.
Becky O’Brien, Jessica Haller, Nigel Savage

The Alt-Right Rising

While the decade began with white supremacists in the doldrums, it ends with them rebranded and repositioned, and eager to take advantage of new opportunities.
Spencer Sunshine

When Women Were Heard

The flow of accusations that broke open the #MeToo floodgates continues, and the long list of the accused grows longer. Since the Weinstein story broke in 2017, we’re seeing Jewish institutions concerned for the safety of potential victims, and acting on it.
Susan Weidman Schneider

The Yiddish Decade

As a living language, Yiddish is actually growing among the chasidic Jews for whom it is a first language. But even among secular and non-charedi Yiddishists, its death, per the old cliche, is greatly exaggerated.
Rokhl Kafrissen

The End Of Close Encounters

As the ubiquity of instantaneous communication accelerates, our communications with one another have broadened and shallowed.
Rabbi David Wolpe

How Different Is America?

Until recently, most American Jews believed that the worst anti-Semitic threats occurred over there, in Europe or the Middle East. But with the resurgence of attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, Calif., and in a kosher store in Jersey City, New Jersey., American Jews saw anti-Semitism hit home with a vengeance.
Michael Dobkowski

Distant Relations

The past decade has been a troubled one in the relationship between American Jewry and Israel. While most American Jews have remained emotionally attached to Israel, they have also become more critical of Israel and more willing to publicly voice their criticisms.
Dov Waxman

Disruptive Innovation When It Comes To Prayer

Many of the innovations in Jewish prayer over the past decade are grass roots efforts that challenge the status quo by emphasizing diversity of experience and greater inclusivity.
Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

More coverage:

Our Journalists Round Up The Big Stories Of The Decade

A Timeline Of Big Jewish Moments From 2010-2019