Constructs: Building Knowledge of Contemporary Jewry
June 2011
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Dear Friends,

Leonard Saxe
Leonard Saxe


I was in Israel earlier this month for Taglit-Birthright Israel meetings and am about to return to participate in the Schusterman Center's Summer Institute for Israel Studies. Our electronically-mediated world allows me to stay in daily contact with colleagues and friends in Israel, but there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face.


It has been an exceptionally productive month at CMJS. We recently released a report about volunteering among Jewish young adults. The project, led by CMJS researcher Fern Chertok, was commissioned by Repair the WorldVolunteering + Values focuses on the volunteering habits, motivations, and interests of young adults. It documents the disconnect between their desire to address universal concerns and their Jewish identities. The report should provoke thought and action in Jewish organizations trying to engage young people in volunteerism within and beyond the boundaries of the Jewish community.


This month, Boston's 2010-11 data on Jewish education were revealed at a special event at Brandeis University hosted by JData, a national repository of information on Jewish education in North America. The project, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, is a paradigm-changer and for the first time will give educators, funders, and researchers comprehensive information about Jewish educational organizations, who they serve and what they cost. Please read on to learn more about JData and Jewish education in Greater Boston. Look for profiles of other communities in our database in upcoming issues of Constructs.


Thank you for your continuing interest in our work. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.



Len Saxe, Director

Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Steinhardt Social Research Institute

Brandeis University   

Volunteering + Values: Jewish service

A Repair the World Report on Jewish Young Adults


Volunteering + Values 




As momentum builds in the American Jewish community to elevate service as a Jewish communal value and to encourage Jewish young adult volunteerism, this landmark study provides a comprehensive portrait of the volunteer habits, attitudes and preferences of contemporary Jewish young adults.


Commissioned by Repair the World and conducted as a collaborative effort between researchers at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) at Brandeis University and Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications, the study surveyed over 900 Jewish young adults between the ages of 18-35 from across the spectrum of Jewish identities and levels of Jewish engagement.


 Read the report.

 Read the technical report.

 Read the executive summary.


What are people saying?


EJewish Philanthropy: Study on Jewish young adults finds service not related to Jewish identity 


CNN: Poll: Among young Jews, activism driven more by universal values than religion 


JTA: Study: Young Jews volunteer, but don't connect it to Judaism 


The Jewish Week: Is volunteering Jewish? 


The Forward: Poll finds young Jews love to volunteer - but not through Jewish groups 


The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Many young Jews volunteer but rarely in faith projects 


The Christian Century: Study says Jews volunteer, but not because of 'Jewish' values  



Girl in classroomWhat can you do with JData?  


  • Use the directory to connect to over 3,000 organizations dedicated to Jewish education.
  • Analyze data on enrollments, operating budgets, and staffing.
  • Learn about special programs and strategies used by schools, camps, and other organizations.  

What are people saying?


"Data that is being developed through JData gives us the opportunity to take some of what we've learned on the macro level and apply it to every single institution in Jewish life."


Barry Shrage, President, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston


"We're trying to look at these trends in a longitudinal way as well as use the data for analysis. It's been helpful for strategic planning, it's been helpful for program evaluation and for answering specific questions as they arise throughout the year. We feel like we've now established a solid and growing set of data and that's going to help us with short-term concerns as well as long-term review and analysis."


Alan Oliff, Director, Initiative for Day School Excellence, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston


Jdata helps schools get better bang for the buck

The Jewish Advocate 


JDataJData in Boston.  

Some Facts: 

  • Boston is home to 13 day schools, 70 supplementary schools, and 34 early childhood centers. This infrastructure is significantly larger than that of Philadelphia or San Francisco.
  • 12 of the 13 day schools are using JData: 5 are Orthodox, 2 Conservative, 1 Reform, 1 Chabad, and 3 pluralist. All totaled, they are educating approximately 2,700 students.
  • 57 of the supplementary schools are using JData: 23 are Reform, 17 Conservative, 2 Reconstructionist. The remaining 15 are not associated with a denomination. Together they are serving over 9,000 children.
  • Only 41 of the supplementary schools are able to provide budget figures. About 60% of these schools have operating budgets under $200k. All totaled, over $10 million was spent in 2010-11 to educate the children in these schools.


Constructs is the e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and

Fisher-Bernstein Institute



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