AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR JUDAISM (ACJ): "We view Judaism as a universal religious faith, rather than an ethnic or nationalist identity"

The American Council for Judaism (ACJ) was founded in 1942 and was opposed to Zionism. It was the only major organized Jewish American opposition to Zionism in the 1940s. The ACJ position is summarized by the statement of its former chairman Clarence Coleman (1959): “I am an American and a Jew. I am an anti-Zionist… I am against every force or influence at work in the lives of American Jews which tends to separate and segregate them, in areas other than their religious beliefs, from their fellow Americans… I am for every program that will make better understood our meaning of Judaism and will advance the historic process of integration, in the secular and political sense, of American Jews.” (see: and Professor Thomas Kolsky’s  book Jews Against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism 1942-1948: ).


Professor Kolsky’s view of the religious significance of the ACJ, "The religious education program . . . was undoubtedly the most successful Council [ACJ] activity . . . By providing religious education devoid of Jewish nationalism, the program attracted new members who were still committed to classical Reform Judaism." (see: ).


American Council for Judaism  (ACJ) statement of beliefs: “Founded in 1942, ACJ has long offered a distinctive vision of identity and commitment for the American Jewish community.

We affirm the uniqueness of the American Jewish experience, and the vital role Jews have played in the development of our nation and its democratic ideals. We cherish our rights and obligations as responsible citizens of the United States.

We view Judaism as a universal religious faith, rather than an ethnic or nationalist identity. We further recognize the silent and often non-participating majority who define their Judaism in the context of their own perspectives. We remain committed to the ethical, intellectual, and prophetic values of Judaism. We cherish the spiritual ties that link us to our fellow Jews around the world, with whom we share our heritage and history.

The State of Israel has significance for the Jewish experience. As a refuge for many Jews who have suffered persecution and oppression in other places, Israel certainly has meaning for us. However, that relationship is a spiritual, historical, and humanitarian one - it is not a political tie. As American Jews, we share the hope for the security and well being of the State of Israel, living in peace and justice with its neighbors.

We celebrate the rich diversity of opinion within today's changing Jewish community. No one group or perspective reflects the broad range of positions among American Jews. We embrace the American tradition of open and respectful dialogue.

Our most fervent hopes are for a strong, creative and spiritually renewed American Jewish community, and for freedom and security for Jews everywhere; so that we might fulfill our historic mission of working together with all people to build a world of justice, freedom, and peace.


The relationship of American Jews to the State of Israel: the American Council of Judaism perspective.

The centuries during the Biblical era in which Jews constituted a sovereign commonwealth in the land we now call Israel gave rise to the shared sense of identity, religious beliefs and values of Judaism. In the centuries that followed, Jews went forth from this land and went to live in other places around the world as Jews. We believe that although Israel is the birthplace of our faith, it is not the place of our national affiliation.

As American Jews, we believe that our nationality is American. We are tied both geographically and emotionally to the United States and to its values of democracy, freedom, liberty and justice. We believe we can be Jews and Americans.

Jews everywhere share common bonds of history, religious beliefs, values and traditions. As American Jews, our ties to the State of Israel are spiritual, emotional and historical, not, however, political. We are grateful that Israel has served as a refuge for many Jews who have suffered persecution and oppression in other places. We have a great desire to support the well-being of our fellow Jews. We pray for peace. Yet, we are American Jews: proud, responsible citizens of the United States.

When, at the end of the Passover Seder, we say “Next year in Jerusalem,” we are articulating a religious metaphor. What we mean is “Next year all Jews should live in freedom,” just as we do in the United States.” [1].


[1]. American Council for Judaism  (ACJ) statement of beliefs: .