Contemporary Jewry

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN: 01471694 / 18765165
Published by: Springer Nature
Total articles ≅ 817

Latest articles in this journal

, , Shahar Hecht
Published: 2 December 2022
Contemporary Jewry pp 1-21;

The Pew Research Center’s 2020 survey of American Jews is a valuable resource to scholars of American Jewry, enabling interrogation of questions using data that no other source can reliably provide. One set of questions pertains to the reach and impact of Birthright Israel, the largest extant Jewish educational program targeted at Jewish young adults, on American Jews. Pew’s nationally representative sample provides important validation of previous findings regarding Birthright’s impact on participants and extends the generalizability of what has been learned. In this paper we use data from the 2020 Pew survey to assess the program’s “reach” into different segments of the American Jewish population and to extend the validity of existing findings regarding the program’s impact on participants’ attitudes and behaviors related to Israel and Jewish life. Pew’s data estimate that around 20% of American Jews ages 18–46 have participated in Birthright, and that among Jewish parents with a grown child, nearly 30% have an adult child who participated in the program. After controlling for preexisting differences between participants and those who have never been to Israel, Pew’s data also confirm that Birthright has a significant impact on a broad set of Jewish outcomes. These results support a more optimistic view of the future for US Jewry and suggest that the investment in large-scale educational interventions can substantially alter the trajectory of the American Jewish community writ large.
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