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

Jewish Education and Its Outcomes:
Knowledge and Interests among Jewish Summer Camp Participants in the former Soviet Union

Alek D. Epstein
Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication,
Open University of Israel

The current research is based on two surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012 at nine youth camps organized for high school students’ education and recreation by the Jewish Agency for Israel in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Among the campers who responded to our survey, over two-thirds have attended Jewish schools or clubs. However, the study has shown that most respondents had a very limited knowledge of general Jewish and especially Israeli history: only under a quarter (24.7%) came up with three post-biblical names of historical Jewish figures. Recalling three meaningful names in the history of the State of Israel proved to be even more challenging: nearly half of respondents could not recall a single name (47.6%) and only 22.8% stated three relevant names. Respondents also manifested poor familiarity with the history of Russian Jewry over the last two centuries, i.e. their own cultural heritage that apparently is not transferred from parents to children in their (usually ethnically-mixed) families.

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