Volume 17, 2012-2013 : Formal and Informal Jewish Education:
Lessons and Challenges in Israel and in the Diaspora

What Happens on the Bus?
How Community Impacts Jewish Engagement on Taglit-Birthright Israel

Shira Fishman, Michelle Shain, and Leonard Saxe
Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies,
Brandeis University

Taglit-Birthright Israel motivates participants “to explore their Jewish identity through a peer educational experience of historic and contemporary Israel” and attempts to strengthen relationships among young Jews in the Diaspora and Israel (Taglit-Birthright Israel, 2012). Substantial research has shown the positive impact of Taglit, but there are still multiple questions about the mechanism through which Taglit impacts the participants. The current research explores the role of creating community on the Taglit bus. Using data from pre and post-trip surveys, the impact of community on participants’ connections to Judaism and Israel are explored. In sociological terms, bringing individuals together to create community increases bonding social capital. Data show that an atmosphere of community and friendship on the bus is a strong predictor of trip outcomes. Implications for participants’ connections with the Jewish community are considered.

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