Some prominent national Jewish leaders, concerned that younger Jews are drifting from the Democratic Party, have joined forces to "keep this party as the home of the great majority of Jewish voters in the nation" and to make certain that "the Democratic Party remains protective of Jewish interests and Jewish values."
At a news conference announcing the formation of the National Jewish Democratic Council, lawyer Stuart E. Eizenstat, a Carter administration adviser, said younger Jewish voters "don't see the party representing things they are concerned about. We must make clear to them that these are our concerns -- even if they aren't per se Jewish issues."
Unlike older Jews who register and vote heavily Democratic, Jewish voters 18 to 24 years old -- like all younger voters -- tend toward the GOP, Eizenstat said. Exit polls have shown that younger Jews recently have voted about 60 percent Democratic. "It is this group that is most askew from the norm," he said. "In looking at those figures, I get really concerned about the future of the Democratic Party."
Eizenstat said one of the council's goals is to "convince younger voters that the Democratic Party is a party of growth and opportunity" and that it promotes protection for minorities and the disadvantaged. "We have to remind younger Jews of their Jewish heritage -- that it is a heritage concerned with social justice."
The council plans a conference later this year to lay out a policy agenda and to meet with potential presidential nominees, Jewish legislators and other leaders.
"Our challenge is to add our influence to the community and the party," said council member Hyman Bookbinder, formerly Washington director of the American Jewish Committee. "The Jewish vote must not be taken for granted."