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Being A Jewish Teenager in America: Trying to Make It

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Abstract:

This study is a systematic inquiry into the contexts, Jewish and American alike, that shape Jewish identity and affiliation among contemporary Jewish teenagers. Nearly 1,300 b’nei mitzvah ages13 to 17 from three regions of Eastern Massachusetts were surveyed. One parent of each child was also interviewed. Results illustrate how embedded Jewish adolescents are in their American context. Findings indicate that this population resembles that of two groups to whose influence Jewish adolescents are continually exposed –their parents and their non-Jewish peers. The adolescents who responded to this survey care about being Jewish and about Jewish history and culture, but do not express this allegiance by engaging in practices that might set them apart from a largely secular, pluralistic culture.