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Interview Results Combined - Years 1 and 2

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Livnot Kesher : Interview Results Combined - Years 1 and 2

Teen Interview Results 

Combined, 2000-2002

On December 17, 2000, Livnot Kesher began interviewing teens from three pilot synagogues in Montgomery County, Temple Beth Ami, Congregation B nai Tzedek, and B nai Shalom of Olney.  From December 2000 through May 2002, 94 teens were interviewed.  The majority of the interviews were held at the homes of the teens, while several were conducted at Starbucks, over the phone or through a survey.  The tone of the interviews was one of openness, interest, and confidentiality.  On many occasions, the Livnot Kesher professional had the opportunity to speak with parents as well.  Teens were asked questions regarding their interests, current Jewish involvement, Israel experience or desire to go to Israel, reasons for not continuing with Religious School or synagogue life in general, and possibilities for them to become engaged in Jewish communal life. 

Of 94 interviews held between December 2000 and May 2002:

Male: 50 (53.2%)                  Female: 44  (46.8)

Public Schools: 83 (88.3%)  Private Schools: 11  (11.7%)

Attended a youth group program at the synagogue and did not return: 

2001                        2002                 Total

5  (10.6%)                11 (23.4%)        16 (17%)

 Joined a youth group outside of the congregation: 

* this statistic is based on responses from all teens on the lists

 2001                              2002                 Total

 11 (5.5%)                 20 ( 18.5%)      31 (12%)

 Involved in Jewish activities in the community[1]

 2001                              2002                   Total

 5 (10.6%)                 11 (23.4%)        16 (17%)

 Total number of teens participating in Jewish life outside of their congregations: 33 (35%)

 Attend Jewish Summer Camp: 

 2001                              2002                   Total

13 (27.6%)                5 (10.6%)          18 (19%)

Have been to Israel:

2001                              2002                 Total

6 (12.7%)                 11 (23.4%)        17 (18%) 

Want to go to Israel: 

2001                                2002                 Total

18 (38.3%)                15 (31.9%)        33 (35%)

Most common reasons teens designated for not continuing with Religious School 

1.       Not enough time (21.25%)

2.       Friends were not participating in Religious School (18.05%)

3.       Bad experiences in Religious School influenced decision to discontinue[2] (15.95%)

4.       Conflicts with other activities (14.85%)

5.       Felt "finished" after bar/bat mitzvah  (9.56%)

Most common reasons teens designated for not participating in the Youth Group 

1.       Friends are not involved in the youth group ((35.1%)

2.       Involved with another Jewish youth program (34%)

3.       Not interested in programs (23.4%)

4.       Not on the membership list and haven't received information (10.63%)

5.       Conflicts with other activities (10.6%)

Most common recommendations teens made to their religious schools

1.       Improve the "community" atmosphere by helping teens to build friendships with their classmates

2.       Teach more mature and age-appropriate subjects[3]

3.       Schedule classes during times more convenient for teens with busy schedules

4.       Create "teen-friendly" classes with interactive work assignments

5.       Train the teachers better

Most common recommendations teens made to their synagogue youth programs

1.       Encourage teens to bring a friend to events

2.       Provide incentives within the programs, such as good tickets to sporting events

3.       Communicate more with target teens about upcoming events through flyers, phone calls, etc.

4.       Create programs to meet the needs and interests of teens

[1] Community Jewish activities include Counselor-In-Training programs, Maccabi Games, Behrend's Builders, JCC activities, synagogue choirs, high school culture clubs, Israeli dancing, etc.

[2] Common experiences include frustration with lack of decorum in classrooms, "cliques" in the classrooms, and negative personal interactions with teachers.

[3] Teens expressed overwhelming interest in learning about the Holocaust, the Arab-Israeli conflict, "why Jews have always suffered" , and modern Jewish and Israeli history.  This may be due to current events, and the community and individual synagogues should address these issues.

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Jewish Experiences for Teens
6101 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-230-7245
Fax: 301-230-7232
JET is a Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

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