The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies has released a new study, Engaging Jewish Teens, A Study of New York Teens, Parents and Practitioners.
Designed to inform planning for The Experiments in Teen Engagement Task Force of UJA-Federation of New York, Engaging Jewish Teens describes teens, their everyday reality, and the factors that contribute to or detract from their engagement in Jewish life.
The study employed multiple surveys in order to view Jewish teens and their relationship to Jewish life from three perspectives: that of the teens, their parents, and communal professionals involved in the work of teen engagement. The survey of teens and their parents looks most closely at four areas in the life of teens: school and friends, extracurricular activities, Jewish engagement and identity and views of being Jewish.
The study found that programs designed to increase teen participation in Jewish life and activities compete with teens’ absorption in academics and college preparation, their lack of “free” time, and their commitment to their friends. Stimulating interest among those who do not place Jewish life high on their list of priorities or who hold negative feelings about Jewish-oriented activities presents certain challenges, but organizations can build on the positive feelings that teens have about being Jewish. The report concludes with suggested steps that can facilitate planning in several specific areas.