In an era when the Jewish population in America is stable or declining, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish numbers are growing rapidly -- a trend that may make the Jewish community not only more religiously observant but also more politically conservative.I've known some non-Chasidic Jews who have switched to the other side of the aisle in prior years. I also know Jews that have switched to the other side only because of the lessening support for Israel in the Democratic Party. I've seen the lack of support for Israel in the blogosphere ever since I started blogging. I'm not too happy about what I see going on within the internet but what can one do. I advocate for Israel and will continue to do so - I am not what they call a "blind supporter" of Eretz Yisrael. I'm a Jew and proud of it--I try my best to keep kosher and stay shomer which is made harder by living on campus at a commuter school.
So says a University of Florida population geographer who recently completed the first estimate of the Hasidic population based on the U.S. Census.
Geography professor Joshua Comenetz estimated today's Hasidic population at about 180,000, just 3 percent of the approximately 6 million Jews in the U.S., in a recent paper published in the journal Contemporary Jewry. However, Comenetz calculated that the Hasidic population doubles every 20 years because Hasidic Jews tend to have many children. That's occurring even as demographic studies show that the non-Orthodox Jewish population is flat or falling. If current trends continue, Hasidic and other growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups will constitute a majority of U.S. Jews in the second half of this century - a potentially profound cultural and political change.
"In demographic terms, Hasidic Jews are more similar to some highly religious Christian groups than liberal Jews," Comenetz said. "They may also sympathize more with the Republicans than the Democrats on values questions. So, one outcome may be a change in the way Jews vote."
This bodes a turn toward conservatism among American Jews, most of whom traditionally support the Democratic Party, Comenetz added. For example, most ultra-Orthodox Jews send their children to religious schools, which makes they more sympathetic to faith-based initiatives of the sort identified with the Republican Party.
Hasidic, which means "pious" in Hebrew, refers to a Jewish movement that believes in a strict interpretation of the laws and ethics of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Hasidic Jews frown on contraception, abortion and divorce, although they do not absolutely ban them. Hasidic Jews also tend to have large, traditional families, with most Hasidic women working in the home, although Hasidic women are not forbidden from entering the workplace.
There are those Jewish Democrats who did leave the Democratic Party and register as Independents or Republican after what they saw happening to Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticutt.
But, for the most part, Jews believe in the idea of a Tikkun Olam, the repairing of the world. As it is said in Pirkei Avot, 2:21--"You are not required to complete the work, yet you are not allowed to desist from it."
Support for Israel has long been an issue when it comes to Jewish Americans. AIPAC has long been a dominant advocator for Israeli issues in Washington. You saw what happened with Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney. They got defeated due to their comments about Jews or Israel.
I know of at least three Jewish Republicans in Congress: Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector, and Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor. Of the three, Spector is the most moderate and he almost lost his Judiciary Committee chairmanship after the 2004 elections as a result.
I, myself, am center-left.