Jewish Service Learning: What Is and What Could Be

From Section:
Informal Education
May. 08, 2008

Source: BTW – Informing Change


This study commissioned by The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Jim Joseph Foundation and The Nathan Cummings Foundation and carried out by BTW Consultants Inc. reports on an assessment of the landscape of Jewish Service Learning of young people aged 18-24. The assessment included the current capacity among practitioners, the support required to further that capacity and the relevance of secular national service and other faith-based service traditions in defining the potential and evolution of Jewish Service Learning. The report results help better understand and maximize the value that Jewish service learning offers.


The researchers conducted a scan of the Jewish Service Learning landscape in the United States, collecting and analyzing both primary and secondary data. The research team conducted 86 key informant interviews with donors, institutional funders, Jewish Service Learning practitioners, community professionals and Jewish thought leaders, as well as representatives of faith-based and secular service organizations. They also reviewed demographic, program and impact data from over 50 unique sources.


In addition to a scan of the entire landscape, the research team conducted a deeper program assessment of immersive term-of-service programs that engage young adults in the United States. This assessment identified and focused on 25 Jewish Service Learning programs operated by 15 organizations. The researchers administered an online survey to these Jewish Service Learning practitioners to complement key informant interviews and a review of organizational and program documents.


Based on the findings from the landscape analysis, the researchers offer four practical next steps— “keystones”—to make Jewish Service Learning more prevalent and powerful.

Keystone One: Quality, capacity and growth

Keystone Two: Incubation and innovation

Keystone Three: Leadership and community commitment

Keystone Four: Coalescence – a center for Jewish Service Learning

They believe that the productive development of Jewish Service Learning depends on the implementation of these "keystones".

Updated: Feb. 07, 2017
Community service | Research | University | Young adults