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Author(s): Lewis, Gwynneth
Date: 2014
Abstract: Over the last 130 years attendance by Jewish children at Jewish day schools in Britain has waxed and waned, until now, in the twenty-first century, attendance figures are similar to those of the 1880s, with almost 60 per cent of Jewish children attending a Jewish primary or secondary school. Recent research has examined this trend within the Jewish population as a whole, mainly concentrating on Jewish secondary schooling. Because of the impact this phenomenon has had on chederim and because of the fundamental differences between the different branches of Judaism, it is important for Jewish educators and leaders to understand what factors lie behind the choices that parents make when deciding on their children's schooling. This study investigates the reasons why parents who are affiliated to Progressive synagogues choose to send their children to Orthodox Jewish primary schools, concentrating on one Progressive community in the north of England in particular, and contrasting the data with that from two larger and older communities. The data was collected through the use of interviews and questionnaires, then analysed in relation to the history and size of the three communities and contrasted with the conclusions of previous studies. The findings suggest that the size and relative age and history of the principal community have had a significant influence on the attitudes of the parents toward the city's Jewish community and the importance of the role of the Orthodox Jewish primary school in maintaining that community, to the extent that the parents' social identity as 'Jews' is more important to them than their synagogue affiliation.
Author(s): Illman, Ruth
Date: 2018
Date: 2017
Abstract: This study, which was produced by JPR on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, takes an in-depth statistical look at synagogue membership figures in the UK. Synagogue membership data have been gathered and analysed consistently over several decades, and constitute the best measure of Jewish communal affiliation in the UK that exists. They provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation and belonging over time, and are thus of particular interest to community leaders and planners.

The report, authored by JPR researchers Dr Donatella Casale Mashiah and Dr Jonathan Boyd, finds that despite the fact that there are now 454 synagogues in the UK – the largest number ever recorded – synagogue membership numbers have dropped below 80,000 households for the first time since records began. Indeed, there has been a 20% decline over a quarter of a century, and a 4% decline since the last such report was published in 2010.

However, the overall decline masks important developments at a denominational level. Critically, the sector that has declined most sharply is central Orthodoxy – broadly understood as the United Synagogue, the Federation and various independent modern Orthodox synagogues dotted around the country – which collectively have seen a 37% drop since 1990. This decline is partly due to disaffection, but it has also been driven considerably by natural decrease – more members dying than being born.

In contrast, membership of strictly Orthodox synagogues is growing. Indeed, it has grown dramatically over time – by 139% since 1990. A generation ago, the strictly Orthodox comprised 4.5% of all synagogue members households; today they comprise 13.5%. This growth is driven almost exclusively by demographic forces – particularly, high birth rates in this sector of the community.

Taken as a whole, Liberal, Reform and Masorti figures have been fairly stable over time. Liberal and Reform have both declined slightly since 1990, whereas Masorti has grown, albeit from a lower base. But this overall picture of stability is somewhat misleading: in reality, Liberal and Reform synagogues are both losing members at a similar rate to the central Orthodox ones, but unlike those central Orthodox ones, they are also attracting members from their religious ‘right’ to offset those losses.
Date: 2009
Abstract: This thesis examines the issue of ethnicity and kinship and explores the advent of identity formation, specifically in a Reform Jewish context, via youth movement participation. Through the mediums of informal education, focus group discussion and individual semi-structured interviews, I engage in an exploration of identifying what it means to be Jewish, how youth movements augment and abet Jewish identity formation, and the boundaries that exist between young Jews and their host communities.
Youth movement youngsters are observed in situ and Grounded Theory (Strauss, 1987; Glaser, 1978; Glaser, 1992; Glaser, 1998; Glaser, and Strauss, 1968) is employed to elucidate their engagements and interactions. Three case studies (Stake, 1995) are then presented to illustrate the experience of youth movement “graduates”. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 2004; Smith and Osborn, 2003) is used to consider the dimensions of their relationship to Judaism, their youth movement and mainstream society.
I conclude that Jewish Identity is a combination of the Motivational and the Situational imperatives. The combined values of religion, culture and national affinity provide the motivational forces. Situational factors inducing Jewish identity amongst youth movement members are the ever wider boundaries they create for themselves and that are created for them. The first boundary of these youngsters that I identify is their movement loyalty relative to other Jewish youth movements; the next is their Reform Judaism within a wider Jewish context and the broader category is their “Jewishness” in a wider society. This “Jewishness” is expressed through the desire for Jewish Continuity (the future of the Jewish people) and the perpetuation of the feeling of “otherness”.
The final chapter charts my developing identity as a researcher. I pose and answer questions taken from throughout the thesis to illustrate my trajectory along the route of becoming a researcher and interpolating my Jewish roots and their significance in my identity development.
Author(s): Tabick, Jacqueline
Date: 2013
Abstract: I examined the characteristics of converts to Judaism through the Reform Synagogues, 1952-
2002, exploring the psychological impact of conversion, the nature of their Jewish identity and
the durability of their religious commitment through time. Recognising the large variation in the
Jewish practice and attitudes displayed, I also examined the influence of motivational, family
and biographical factors on their Jewish identity.
Motivation for conversion was multi-dimensional. The instrumental desire to create family
unity was identified as the most powerful motivating factor. The strength of this variable
was found to be a significant predictor of the level of behavioural changes in the converts’
Jewish lifestyle. Counter-intuitively, this motivational factor formed negative correlations
with ethnicity and a non-significant relationship with ritual behaviour.
The data highlight differences between the factorial structure of the Jewish identity of converts
and born Jews. For converts, four identity factors were identified: ritual practice, ethnic
belonging, Jewish development and spirituality. Miller et al. have identified three factors
underlying the Jewish identity of born Jews under 50: behavioural ethnicity, religiosity and
mental ethnicity. Survey data of converts has shown a clear division of ritual and ethnic
behaviours, whilst in born Jews, the same differentiation is not demonstrated.
Like moderately engaged born Jews, converts emphasised the notion of affective identity rather
than the actual performance of Jewish ritual acts, though it is clear that ‘on average’ converts
have a somewhat more intense pattern of ritual practice than born (Reform) Jews.
The majority of the converts felt content with the results of their conversion but the relative lack
of emphasis placed on Jewish continuity as opposed to the convert’s individual self-fulfilment,
can be seen as an indication of a possibility that the conversion process may only delay
demographic decline in the Jewish community for just one or two generations.
Author(s): Borts, Barbara
Date: 2014
Abstract: The Movement for Reform Judaism [MRJ] - has been undergoing substantial changes in its style and patterns of worship. The introduction of a new prayer book has been accompanied by a pronounced focus on the music of the various synagogues, as a key element in the re-envisioning of prayer and spirituality in 21st century congregations. These have taken place within the context of the wider context of synagogue renewal, which surfaced first in the USA as Synagogue 2000 (now Synagogue 3000), entailing study, reflection and implementation of a variety of different changes in the hope of attracting and retaining Jews in synagogue services.

This thesis focuses on the relationship between forms of liturgical and ritual music and patterns of spirituality and identity within the UK Reform Jewish world during a period of significant social change. ‘Getting the music right’ is, for some, a major aspect in synagogal renewal and commands a central place in the focus on Judaism into the twenty-first century. Focusing on attitudes towards and experiments with music afford a distinctive manner to access the complexities involved in the interplay of diverse community traditions and contemporary pressures for change.

The complexities of this examination are mirrored in the interdisciplinary perspective of this thesis, as it encompasses the theoretical resources of theological, historical, and social scientific disciplines. Through the historical expansion of the movement, and the synagogues in which I have engaged in ethnographic research, we will note the shifts in movement and synagogal musical cultures, each affording a unique perspective on music in worship. Each helps to elucidate a little bit what constitutes the perspectives and preoccupations of the Anglo-Reform Jewish world.
Author(s): Kranz, Daniela
Date: 2009
Abstract: This PhD thesis focuses on the creation and maintenance of the liberal Jewish community in present day Cologne, Germany. The community has the telling name Gescher LaMassoret, which translates into „Bridge to Tradition.‟ The name gives away that this specific community, its individual members and its struggles cannot be understood without the socio-historic context of Germany and the Holocaust. Although this Jewish community is not a community of Holocaust survivors, the dichotomy Jewish-German takes various shapes within the community and surfaces in the narratives of the individual members. These narratives reflect the uniqueness of each individual in the community. While this is a truism, this individual uniqueness is a key element in Gescher LaMassoret, whose membership consists of people from various countries who have various native languages. Furthermore, the community comprises members of Jewish descent as well as Jews of conversion who are of German, non- Jewish parentage. Due to the aftermaths of the Holocaust and the fact that Gescher LaMassoret houses a vast internal diversity, the creation of this community which lacks any tradition happens through mixing and meshing the life-stories and other narratives of the members, which flow into the collective narrative of the community. On the surface, the narratives of the individual members seem in conflict, they even contradict each other, which means that the narrative of the community is in constant tension. However, under the dissimilarities on the surface of the individual narratives hide similarities in terms of shared values and attitudes, which allow for enough overlaps to create a community by way of braiding a collective narrative, which offers the members to experience a 'felt ethnicity.'
Author(s): Illman, Ruth
Date: 2016