Source: Jewish Leadership Council
What do we want the future to look like? How can Youth Provision in the UK Jewish Community best develop to engage Jewish young people in a Jewish journey? These questions are at the heart of this Commission, set up in April 2013 as a partnership between the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and UJIA. We identified three particular areas in which Commissioners shared a broad consensus of interest: CONTINUITY – ensuring that the next generation are interested in living a Jewish life (in as much variety as that might mean), COMMUNITY – exploring the ways in which young people engage with the Jewish community, ISRAEL – the relevance of Israel in a young person’s life. Our research aimed to: a) Map the current Jewish informal provision for young people in the UK b) Identify and reflect on existing strategy, policy and provision c) Assess how that provision has changed in the past generation.
The data collection and analysis took place between May and August 2013. This publication reports on the work undertaken to address these goals, and reports on the analysis of the answers we received. The report addresses the issues and themes that emerged, both through data collection and through discussion by Commissioners at our regular meetings.
From the Executive Summary:
- Jewish youth provision in the UK is characterised by variety and diversity, in a world that has changed enormously in a generation.
- There is good provision and we have much to be proud of. But there are some issues, specifically around sustainability and leadership, which are critical to address.
- No single effort could unilaterally address the challenges of Jewish youth provision and engagement.
- The Jewish Youth Movements are a significant element of youth provision in the UK.
- Whilst the key contact point of informal education is Israel Tour, still attracting around 50% of Jewish 16 year-olds, the key contact point of families in the community is synagogue membership, currently at 73% (82,963 households: JPR 2010).
- Retention is a key issue to address. There are few opportunities for continuing involvement in youth provision, especially within the Youth Movements, after the age of 16, unless young people want to become leaders.
- Opportunities for young people to become leaders, and not just participants, increase the likelihood of their continuing involvement. But not everyone wants to become a leader.
- Relationships are central to a young person’s Jewish youth engagement.
- We need to acknowledge the impact of social media and virtual relationships on young people, which impacts on the ways they engage with each other.
- Multiple entry points and flexible, multi-faceted programming are needed.
- Better marketing of programming may increase engagement.
- Jewish schools are an opportunity, and also a challenge. The increasing number of young people in Jewish schools has led to tension and rivalry between provision for young people in Jewish schools and what is provided by the Youth Movements, other youth providers and synagogues.
- Gap Year in Israel is a key predictor of commitment to Jewish life and Israel. UK has a far greater emphasis on peer led youth work than in other countries, e.g. the USA. In the UK, there is a declining emphasis on Jewish youth work as a career.
- Funding challenges are common, and include reductions in both external and communal support.
- We recognise the strong influence of the family with regard to youth engagement, and also the increased complexities and challenges of single parent and blended families.
- We must address provision for young people of all backgrounds, abilities and needs.