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A New Jewish Identity... in Formation?

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Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher(s): Jewish Education Service of North America; Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education

Author(s): Nancy Leffert; Hayim Herring

Series: Jewish Education News, Summer 1998

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Culture and religion (Cultural heritage and preservation)

Keywords: Youth; Study; Generational Issues; Jewish Identification

Type: Brief

Coverage: Minnesota


This article discusses a 1997 Minneapolis survey of Jewish adolescents, specifically focusing in developments in how adolescents understand and relate to their Jewish identity. Their Jewish value set is different than those of the generations above them. Their values reflect a somewhat dramatic redrawing of the boundaries of Jewish identity - they are likely to have a more personal, individualized Jewish identity that is centered more on self and their immediate family instead of the larger community. American values of autonomy and individualism have become merged with the Jewish values of community and collective responsibility to produce adolescents who have strong, personal Jewish feelings but who choose to exercise their faith on their terms and in their own ways. This new Jewish raises several critical questions for adult Jewish policy-makers.