Earlier this year, our foundations worked for several months on releasing new research from Atlantic 57 about young adults’ engagement and connection to Jewish life and community. We were set to launch right as COVID-19 escalated. We put these plans on hold as organizations responded to this crisis and focused on supporting their staff, families, communities and those they serve. We now know that COVID-19 is going to have a longer lasting and more significant impact than any of us could have imagined. While there is no right time to release research amid a pandemic, we have decided to share it now because we hope the insights in this report will benefit the field and help our communities.
We recognize that research conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in no way could account for the current situation and very uncertain future. In that regard, some of these key findings and subsequent recommendations may seem detached from our current day-to-day lives and work at this moment. That said, there is a future of Jewish engagement that we all want to help build. Whenever you have the time to review – even if far down the road – we know you will find that Unlocking the Future of Jewish Engagement offers a comprehensive and multi-faceted view of the attitudes, beliefs, motivations, behaviors, perspectives, and demographics of Jewish young adults across the United States.
Key findings from the research indicate that young Jews overwhelmingly engage or aspire to engage in Jewish life, and perhaps in different ways than previous generations. Family and friends, nostalgia and guilt, the importance of spirituality over religion, and geographic distance all play a role in Jewish engagement and connectedness to Jewish communities. Young Jews are, on the whole, intellectually curious, compassionate, active in their communities and in exploring new activities, and generally proud of being Jewish. And while many young Jews aspire to be more involved in Jewish life and rekindle the positive Jewish experiences of their youth, some struggle to find the right connection points.
We hope this research provides rich context for practitioners and philanthropies to deeply understand what being Jewish means to Jewish young adults today. The collaborative support for this research is indicative of our foundations’ desire to work with and help others more effectively connect with and engage Jewish young adults.
We look forward to any feedback, thoughts, and questions you have about Unlocking the Future. Most importantly, however, we wish you, your family, and your friends and colleagues health and safety at this time. May we all find strength from our communities.
Unlocking the Future of Jewish Engagement was commissioned by Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group, Jim Joseph Foundation, and Maimonides Fund.