Study claims highly-educated Jews are less likely to engage with community

Study claims highly-educated Jews are less likely to engage with community

Report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research looks at the link between high academic achievement and involvement with the Jewish community

Students celebrating graduation
Students celebrating graduation

Jews with postgraduate qualifications are, on average, the least engaged members of the Jewish community, according to research published today by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

The research, “Academic Achievement and Engagement in Jewish Life: First Signs of a Brain Drain?”, uses four sample surveys of British Jews conducted over the past 23 years.

It focuses on the way in which highly-educated Jews differ from others in their sense of identity, their religious and ethnic behaviour, their marriage choices, their perceptions of Israel and their social involvement in Jewish life.

Written by JPR senior research adviser and leading specialist in contemporary Jewish life Professor Stephen Miller, the research also found that the gap in levels of Jewish communal engagement between postgraduates and others is particularly substantial in areas such as synagogue membership, outmarriage, charitable priorities and support for Israeli government policy.

It also noted that highly-educated Jews were about half as likely as non-graduates to see their fellow Jews as a source of natural support, or to express concern about Jewish continuity.

High academic achievers, however, were more likely than others to cite positive traits and values, such as fairness, respect, dislike of prejudice, love of learning, as examples of how they feel their Jewishness has affected them.

The drop in Jewish engagement seen in highly-educated Jews can be largely attributed to their more critical evaluation of the Jewish community, rather than any weakness in their personal identity as Jews.

The report concludes that a readiness to acknowledge and adapt to such findings may be crucial to any effort on behalf of the Jewish community leadership to address the issues of intellectual mobility it highlights.

JPR executive director Jonathan Boyd said: “Among the more important claims made in this report is Miller’s finding that the active Jewish community is failing to retain a representative proportion of the most academically qualified Jews.

“We are, in effect, losing some of our collective intellectual resources, with the possibility that the Jewishly identified community will become progressively denuded of its best intellectual resources, assuming we measure intellectualism along academic lines.”

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