The Shmooze

Young Jews Love To Volunteer, Though Not for Jewish Organizations

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
iStockphoto

A just-released study on young Jews and volunteerism reveals that, although young Jews are committed to community service and volunteering, they tend not to associate that interest with their Jewish identities. This is the case despite the fact that commitment to volunteerism increases with a young Jew’s level of religious involvement. The study also found that most service work is locally based, and that Israel is not a focus for young Jews’ volunteer efforts.

The study, called “Volunteering + Values: A Repair the World Report on Jewish Young Adults” was commissioned by the service organization Repair the World and was conducted as a collaborative effort between the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications. It used a sample of young Jewish adults, ages 18-35, from among the 300,000 diverse applicants to the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. Some survey respondents were alumni of the program, while others were not. Additional respondents were chosen through Knowledge Networks, which provides a representative sample of the U.S. population using probability-based sampling techniques.

So far, the major findings of the survey include the fact that a majority (between two-thirds and three-quarters) of young Jews — motivated by the desire to help others and get involved in causes important to them for personal reasons — are engaged in volunteer and civic work. Although a third of young Jews volunteer regularly at least once a month, less than a quarter of them have participated in an intensive, multi-week or multi-month service program.

Eighty percent of those volunteering do so on a local level. They are concerned about addressing issues like poverty, hunger and illiteracy in their own cities and neighborhoods. Only 1% are involved in volunteer work focused on Israel and/or the Middle East.

More young Jewish women than young Jewish men have done volunteer work in the past year, and it is the more religiously affiliated Jews who have the highest level of engagement in volunteering. Also, young Jews who see or recall their own parents volunteering have a higher tendency to get involved themselves. Twenty-five percent of the respondents said that they were recruited to volunteer by family members or friends.

In its summary of the study, eJewish Philanthropy highlighted the fact that only 23% of the respondents were aware of volunteer opportunities available through the Jewish channels. A majority of young Jews are not looking to volunteer in or through the Jewish community because they perceive it as being too narrow and parochial. With universal, rather than Jewish, values driving their desire to volunteer, they seek to serve others in the greater community — and they view their volunteer work as something separate from Jewish life.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Volunteering, Service, Repair the World, Philanthropy

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.