Attitudes and experiences of Persian American Jews in Jewish education
Reichel, Michael Joel
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The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether there were differences in attitudes and behaviors related to education, background, practices, and values of two ethnic groups of Persian American Jewry, in New York. One hundred forty-two Meshedi and Teherani Persian Jews made up the sample population.;Responses to a questionnaire were analyzed using SPSS. In-depth interviews of families, and faculty members at a Yeshiva day school helped explicate the findings and provide additional insight into Meshedi and Teherani beliefs and practices. Further insights were collected by discussions with Persian communal leaders in the geographic area of the study as well as a psychologist who practices in the Persian community.;Six research questions were assessed using descriptive statistics comparing the attitudes of Meshedis and Teheranis on Jewish communal life, religious observances, intermarriage, Maimonidean principles of faith, the importance of textual study, and formal Jewish education. Additional analysis of selected areas of Persian Jewish education was undertaken to compare Meshedis and Teheranis with respect to their attitudes concerning the Jewish faith. The additional analysis was carried out using t-tests, with a level of significance of .05.;Results suggested that for the preponderance of Jewish education attitudes and practices, Meshedis and Teheranis reported similar beliefs. Teheranis tended to be more secular in their views, while Meshedis reported themselves to be more traditional and closer to Orthodox practices and their attitudes suggested by employment patterns within their families and community, religious observances, socialization patterns related to friendships, meeting people and opinions toward marriage, converts and intermarriage.;In contrast, Meshedis were more likely to consult with a rabbi than Teheranis. Teheranis, unlike Meshedis, did not separate meat and dairy dishes. Additional analysis revealed that Meshedi males had significantly higher mean Maimonidean principle scores than either female Meshedis and or male Teheranis.;Meshedis were more likely to live in a Jewish locale, near a synagogue, attend synagogues, consult with and seek guidance from their rabbis, and to provide formal Jewish education for their children.;Conclusions, implications, and suggestions for research were identified and discussed providing valuable insight into many facets of Persian American Jewish culture.