Jewish day schools and long-term religious engagement as reflected in the NJPS 2000-01: a social capital perspective
Reiss, Shari R.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis explores the relationship between Jewish day school education and the religious engagement of adult graduates. Five variables serving as "markers" of religious engagement were analyzed: a) having mostly or only Jewish friends, b) charitable giving to Jewish and to non-Jewish causes, c) synagogue attendance, d) ritual observance, as measured by lighting Shabbat (Sabbath) candles and observing Kashrut (dietary laws), and e) retaining the denominational affiliation of their upbringing.;The findings of this study demonstrate that day school education, over and above parental observance and having had Jewish friends during high school, strongly relates to all five markers of adult religious engagement. Attendance for 9-12 years has a significantly stronger relationship than attendance for 1-8 years. Orthodox-raised respondents are significantly more engaged than Conservative-raised ones with similar amounts of day school education. Regarding charitable giving, respondents who attended a day school for 9-12 years, irrespective of childhood denomination, were the most likely to give to some cause, Jewish or non-Jewish. Orthodox-raised day school attendees were the most likely to give only to Jewish causes. Giving to non-Jewish causes (i.e., either non-Jewish only, or both Jewish and non-Jewish causes) was more common for Conservative-raised than for Orthodox-raised respondents. Neither attending a day school for 9-12 years or having mostly or only Jewish friends during high school were significantly associated with charitable giving to non-Jewish causes.;Having mostly or only Jewish friends during high school is strongly related to adult religious engagement. Adults who had both attended a day school for 1-8 years and had mostly Jewish friends during high school were much more likely to remain Orthodox than adults with only one of these traits.;Implications of this thesis pertain to the role of Jewish day school education in American Jewish communal life, to the importance of promoting social connections among day school students and families, and to the need to promote charitable giving to non-Jewish causes.