How to Encourage Jewish Choices

November 4, 2012

Sorce: eJewish Philanthropy


Abrams, Cohen and Wertheimer write about a pilot study they conducted under the auspices of the AVI CHAI Foundation to learn about the factors that go into the decision of parents to enroll their children in a residential summer camp with a Jewish mission. Their goal was to assess the impact of norms within the social networks of Jewish parents, and, in particular, to examine the extent to which the recommendations of social peers play a significant role in the decision to send one’s children to a Jewish summer camp.


They write:

"Based on a survey of nearly 1000 families with children between the ages of six and 17 reflective of the larger Jewish population, we learned three important things about camping decisions made by parents:

  • First, relative to the American population as a whole, Jews maintain much denser immediate and intimate social networks. Whereas the average American has 2.1 “intimates” with which he or she can discuss “important matters,” the typical Jew has 3.9 – an 86 percent difference.
  • Second, as demonstrated many times before, strong connections with other Jews – as evidenced by attending Shabbat dinners frequently, having strong feelings of belonging to a Jewish community, and befriending mainly Jews – are positively correlated with parents sending their children to summer camps.
  • Third, and most critically, after running statistical analyses to control for various socio-economic and institutional factors, we found that the recommendations of intimates strongly drive the decision to send one’s child to a Jewish summer camp. Moreover, we also found that memberships in Jewish institutions such as synagogues, personal socio-economic status, and a sense of belonging to the larger community are not as powerful in driving the decision to enroll children in a Jewish summer camp.

Our study admittedly was preliminary and many questions still remain, but one finding stands out: cues delivered by those in our social circles are highly influential as Jewish families make their camping decisions. The lesson for camps is clear: Camp directors and others promoting Jewish summer camping must mobilize parents to serve as advocates of their camp within their social circles. Informal conversations, rather than highly structured marketing by the camps themselves, are most effective."


Read their article at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Nov. 28, 2012