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Raising Jewish Children: Research and Indications for Intervention

This is a growing group. Successive studies have underscored the fact that in 1960, 77 percent of American women and 65 percent of men below the age of 30, had accomplished the five sociological milestones of adulthood–”completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.” Today, fewer than half of women and one-third of men fit that fully adult profile The proportion of Americans aged 25 to 34 who have never been married exceeds those married. The Jewish identity gains that result from a Jewish education during the teenage years are significantly undermined when young American Jews remain single for a decade or longer after college. These young American Jews between the ages of 22 to 35 require programs tailored to their distinctive form of Jewish attachment. In contrast to prior generations of American Jews, who sought out co-religionists and preferred to socialize among Jews, this generation speaks about “not wanting to be restricted to the tribe,” or to divide the world into “us” and “them.” For these young American Jews, content is more compelling than kinship. They define Jewish social values, religious rituals, and cultural forms of Jewish expression, such as Jewish music and literature, as the primary expressions of their Jewishness. At the same time, many of them also seek community and friendship circles – but do not want to feel these are being forced upon them.

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