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Community Service: The Nexus of Volunteerism, Philanthropy, and Jewish Identity

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Publication Date: September 2001

Publisher(s): Jewish Life Network

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Social conditions (Volunteerism)

Keywords: American Jews; Jewish Youth; Volunteerism

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Does community service under Jewish sponsorship elevate the "Jewish identity" of young adult American Jews? Evidence bearing upon the answer to this question emerged from a study I recently conducted under the sponsorship of Jewish Life Network. Jewish sponsorship in any way, shape, or form — even in the most subtle and least overt ways inevitably attracts more Jewishly committed people than do programs devoid of any Jewish content or connection whatsoever. Inevitably, their socializing, sweating and saving the world together can only serve to reinforce the positive norms that attracted them to Jewishly sponsored community service in the first place. We can reasonably infer that community service programs under Jewish sponsorship really do strengthen the Jewish and philanthropic muscles of participants, especially, we suspect, if the service is meaningful, regular and enriched by a Jewish educational context.

In Contact: The Journal of Jewish Life Network, v.4:1, August 2001, p.10-11.