Just in time for the GA, the UJC has unveiled the results of a groundbreaking study on Jewish service program participants. Highlighting this growing field, the study also found that service programs foster a commitment to social justice; the sense that volunteering is an important Jewish value; contributes to a sense of community and allows new communal relationships that allow young Jews to create new forms of Jewish expression while simultaneously developing the next generation of leaders and donors.
from the study introduction:
“Tikkun olam, the historic Hebrew phrase for ‘repairing’ or ‘perfecting’ the world lies at the heart of the Jewish service movement. Understood as much as a concept of social justice as an imperative to serve, the tradition extends beyond the obligations to the Jewish community to the world at large. This fundamental value permeates the Jewish ethos lending itself to a host of social action programs and volunteer initiatives.
The call to social action is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the recent growth of Jewish immersion service programs over the last 13 years. Five programs in 1995 have grown to more than 30 programs just over a decade later with many groups reporting more applicants than available service slots. In spite of this rapid program expansion, the 2007-2008 cohort of 3,000 young American Jews engaged in service represents less that 1% of eligible Jews aged 18 to 24.”
You can read, or download (PDF), the complete report here: UJC_Jewish_Service_Learning