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Raising Jewish Children: Research and Indications for Intervention

One factor which the majority of research and, hence, policy planning in the field of Jewish education has not paid sufficient attention to is social networks. Our research shows that American Jews may say they feel disconnected from other Jews; yet, they are actually influenced by their Jewish social circles. Similarly, educators have tended to emphasize the role of parents in making educational decisions for their child and overlooked the importance of Jewish social networks in motivating children to continue their Jewish education. Our research shows that Jewish friends and social networks, especially during the teen years, influence decisions to attend Jewish schools and Jewish educational programs. This new understanding of the power of social networks suggests that the direction of influence in the teen years is from friendships to education to family involvements. A strong Jewish social network in the teen years is a predictor of college friends and choice of Jewish marriage partners.

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