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

Revisiting “The Non-Linear Impact of Schooling”: A First Step toward a Necessary Corrective

Matthew Boxer
Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Steinhardt Social Research Institute, Brandeis University, USA


Harold Himmelfarb’s research in the 1970s yielded estimates of average hours per year of Judaic instruction offered by Jewish day schools and supplementary schools in North America that have since been used by quantitative researchers to model the impact of formal Jewish education on Jewish identity. Unfortunately, these estimates are not reflective of contemporary patterns of Jewish schooling. Using data from a national sample of Jewish schools collected by JData.com, an on-line repository for information on Jewish educational programs in North America, this research revisits Himmelfarb’s estimates and provides a contemporary update. Limitations of the new approach are addressed. The revised figures do not substantially affect outcomes of statistical models; nevertheless, as a matter of principle, the revisions are necessary to reduce error in a key variable used widely in quantitative research on Jewish identity.
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