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Poll Shows Surprising Contradictions About Young Jews

September 11, 2013 By:
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Young Jews descend Masada during a Birthright trip.

The millennial generation is more likely to have attended a Jewish day school and summer camp than their parents’ generation but that has not translated to feeling a strong­er connection to Israel or to their Jewish identity, according to a new survey. 

The poll, conducted by Laszlo Strategies on behalf of Jeru­salem U, a nonprofit that provides Jewish education online, surveyed more than 1,800 people. The respondents were drawn from the email lists of Jewish organizations, which the organizers acknowledged meant that respondents were more connected Jewishly than the general Jewish population in the United States.

Of those surveyed, the young­er generation — Jews ages 18-29 — were 21 percent more likely than those over the age of 50 — 45 percent to 24 percent — to have attended a Jewish day school. The same gap existed with regards to attending a Jewish summer camp: 56 percent to 36 percent for the same ages.

Despite that sense of engagement, younger Jews do not feel as strong a connection to Israel as do older Jews, according to the survey. Among Jews older than 50, 87 percent said they strongly agree with the statement “caring about Israel is an important part of my Jewish identity,” while only 66 percent of those in the 18-29 bracket offered the same response.

Other findings from the survey:

• Among Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, 38 percent said “Judaism is important but it doesn’t generally impact my daily life; mostly it’s a family and cultural thing for me.”

• Thirty-three percent of all respondents said there would be less anti-Semitism in the United States today if Israel no longer existed; 63 percent said there would be greater anti-Semitism. 

Jerusalem U, founded in 2009, produces original films and educational courses, which are distributed on television, online and in social media, in an effort to build support for Israel and the Jewish people.

Andrea Gottlieb, the executive director of Jerusalem U who is also locally based, said a particular goal of the group is stengthening young people’s connections to Judaism and increasing their involvement in Jewish activities.

With that in mind, the organization is launching Core 18 Lead­ers Lab, a seven-month Jew­ish leadership training program that begins in January.

Jews ages 19 to 25 are eligible for the fully funded program, during which they will spend five months in their local communities followed by a two-month session next summer in Israel.

Those interested can apply at Core18.org. Jerusalem U will select 36 fellows.

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