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Date: 2020
Abstract: Growing up Jewish in Poland presents the findings of a study about the developmental trajectories of 17 children and adolescents from 14 families living in Poland who attended the Lauder-JDC International Jewish Youth Camp Szarvas (Hungary) for the first time at the time of the study (2015-2018). Resorting to a longitudinal analysis, the present study aims to examine what happens, over a period of three years, to a group of Jewish boys and girls that have experienced a Jewish summer camp for the first time in summer 2015. The study focused on the role that the summer camp itself plays in shaping a proactive Jewish life but also analyzed more globally other aspects that influence Jewish participation. What are the main factors that affect Jewish participation both on the kid’s and on the parents’ perspective? What are the possible “Jewish” trajectories of 13-to-16-year-old teenagers in Central Eastern Europe? Do they keep connected with Jewish life? If yes, how? What’s their scale of values? What are their priorities, their hopes, and their perceived future as they make their way from teenagehood to young adults? The main methodological feature of this study lies in it being a qualitative, longitudinal, observational cohort study. In contrast to most studies that explore development retrospectively, this study involved interviewing first-time Szarvas campers and their families over a longer period, with up to three consecutive interviews per family over a period of three years. To our knowledge, this research experience is unique in Jewish Europe.
Date: 2016
Author(s): Abramson, Sarah J.
Date: 2010
Abstract: This dissertation is an exploration of the ways in which Jewish youth movements create, recreate and re-envision wider Jewish communal norms relating to authenticity, or what it means to be a `real' or `legitimate' Jew. The culmination of thirteen months participant observation fieldwork within one Jewish youth movement, as well as interviews with other youth movement leaders and archival research of one prominent British Jewish newspaper, I argue that the modem Orthodox Jewish Establishment in the United Kingdom has a strong grip on the concept of authenticity. The stakes for maintaining control over the boundary between the authentic and the inauthentic are high, as British Jewry is shrinking rapidly and education has been identified as the primary means by which to secure communal continuity. Consequently, Jewish formal education often supports particular (Orthodox) interpretations of Jewish authenticity, specifically in relation to communal pluralism, appropriate gender identifications and relationships with Zionism. However, these Orthodox expectations of authenticity are often incompatible with how many young British Jews today lead their lives. Youth movements are key sites in which the battle for continuity is being waged; British Jewish youth movements aim to create informal education agendas that inspire young people to create lifelong affiliations with Judaism. I contend that informal education has the necessary flexibility to disrupt (and thus redefine) the boundaries of Jewish authenticity. Specifically, the very pillars of Orthodox authenticity (pluralism, gender and Zionism) are beginning to be (re)- constructed in new and innovative ways by some movements. It is in this space, created through the negotiation of a movement's ethos and its simultaneous obligation to, or disregard for, communal (Orthodox) expectations, that the validation of `alternative' performances of Judaism is possible. In turn, such validation helps to associate authenticity with a fluid and context- dependent belief system that is more likely to secure communal continuity than the exclusive Orthodox system currently so predominant.
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): Miller, Helena
Date: 2014
Abstract: This summer has been a challenging and exceptional one for Israel Tour madrichim, who have run Tour during a period of ferocious hostilities between Israel and Gaza, which have impacted on both the itineraries and the day to day running of their groups. They have had to deal with sirens, taking their groups into shelters, hearing explosions afar and nearby, the political situation and last minute changes to itineraries caused by the security situation. This of course, has been in addition to the regular stresses and challenges of being responsible for a group of 35-40 sixteen year olds for three and a half weeks in Israel.

Remarkably, the chanichim have almost without exception had a fantastic time. UJIA felt, however, that it would be the responsible way forward to follow up with all madrichim on their return, to do the following:

a) To thank the madrichim
b) To acknowledge concern for the welfare for the madrichim
c) To see if there are any particular chanichim requiring follow up
d) To find out the extent to which Tour Providers/YMs/UJIA/taglit/other agencies and individuals were supportive to them and their chanichim before and during the time in Israel
e) To find out if the madrichim would like/need additional support/counselling etc now that they are home.
f) To find out whether the madrichim have any advice for UJIA regarding our handling of the situation, handling of the madrichim and YMs, and could this be improved upon for the future.
In addition, we agreed that a letter of appreciation and thanks would be emailed to all madrichim just prior to return. In the email, they were told that a named person (usually their UJIA contact) would ‘phone them within a couple of days of their return to debrief and check how they are.
Date: 2009
Abstract: Key issues and findings are as follows:

1. 30% of Jewish 18 year olds take a Gap Year after finishing school.

2. 17% of Jewish 18 year olds currently choose an Israel Gap Year.

3. That percentage is decreasing.

4. The cost of the Israel Gap Year has risen from £7,000 - £11,000 in three years.

5. That cost is within proportion of some non-Israel Gap Year programmes. It is higher than others.

6. For many families, the cost of Israel Gap Year is prohibitive. The finances of the Israel Gap Year must be reviewed. This must include issues related to length, structure and content of the year, bursaries, saving schemes, raising funds etc.

7. The variable quality of the Machon and the price of the Machon is making it a challenging component of the programme.

8. The volunteering programme must address the issues stated in the UJIA Review of Volunteering paper (2008)

9. Better marketing will lead to higher recruitment. Marketing of the UJIA Israel Gap Year needs to be as sophisticated as marketing for non-Israel Gap Years

10. Follow through of chanichim after Israel Tour must be better addressed by the Youth Movements in the UK.

11. The possibility of developing shorter options (5-6 months) must be explored seriously.

12. The option of making the programme modular – 3 month modules that participants can pick and choose from and opt in and out of – must be explored.

13. UJIA and the Youth Movements must explore the possibility of better integration between the sections of the Gap Year.

14. UJIA and the Youth Movements should explore the desirability and possibility of including a three month component overseas, possibly volunteering in Europe or in a developing country.

15. The staffing of the Israel Experience team should be reviewed to ensure adequate cover both in the UK and in Israel, particularly at present when staff cuts and turnover of staff is acute.

16. The impact of the Gap Year on its participants is one of its unique selling points and should not be under-estimated. It should be integrated into the marketing strategy.
Date: 2015
Abstract: Three previous research projects undertaken by the Research and Evaluation Department of UJIA between 2012 and 2014 have been re-analysed to extract anything relevant to identify the Jewish journey taken by key individuals within the Jewish community.

Gap year research data indicates that almost 40% of respondents who have been on a Gap year or Yeshiva/Seminary in Israel identify themselves as Modern Orthodox and almost 60% had also attended a Jewish school.

49% respondents stated they chose their Gap year organisation because they had previously been on Israel Tour with them and 65% regularly participated in their activities.

From those Gap year graduates amongst the Youth Commission respondents, more than 65% said they were currently involved with a Youth organisation. This is reinforced by nearly 60% of respondents to the Israel Experience survey who had also been on a Gap year stating they had attended a JSoc and a similar percentage were still part of their youth movement. 30% stated they had been fundraising for Israel or had donated to UJIA.

Most of the Gap year respondents felt that going on their Gap year had a positive influence on the likelihood to engage with the Jewish community in the future.

The respondents to the Israel Experience Survey (2012) who had also been on a Gap year, mostly thought their Gap year had been extremely important in shaping their Jewish life, even more so than their family or youth movement.

The Gap year research suggested that almost 70% of respondents, who had previously been on a Gap year, felt that the whole experience had positively affected their likelihood to make Aliyah.

16 individual stories from these previous research studies have been used to highlight some of the Jewish journeys completed by some of our leaders since their time on Gap year.