Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

Reader 1

Professor Daniel Segal

Reader 2

Professor Piya Chatterjee

Rights Information

2022 Katy H Thomason


Jewish communal institutions have existed for long as Jews have existed in America. Early Jewish organizations were aid-focused, community-funded, and local; however they developed alongside the American political economy and in reaction to the Holocaust into large, professionalized, donor-controlled organizations that embraced neoliberal logics such as privatization and the retrenchment of the welfare state. In reaction to fears of declining engagement with the Jewish establishment prompted by the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, Jewish organizations created scores of Zionist-affiliated Jewish identity-building programs for young people. Along the way, American Jewish identity was institutionalized, bounded and restricted by Zionist, conservative donors that refused to fund organizations with anti-Zionist politics. As a result, American Jewish organizations, including Hillel International, were challenged by the anti-Zionism of the popular Black Lives Matter movement, as transnational solidarity between Black Americans and Palestinians linked the two struggles. In the past decade, a growing movement of young Jews have organized to reclaim Judaism from institutionalization, organizing movements of their own that prioritize political pluralism, inclusion, and solidarity with other groups threatened by white supremacy.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.