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At the Crossroads of Three Cultures: Young Iranian American Jews in Los Angeles and Their Organizations
Iranian American Jews are a large and highly visible community in Los Angeles. The intricate intermingling of cultures and values from Western and Eastern society results in unique needs for members of this diaspora community. One notable trend in this population is the recent spurt of newly established nonprofit organizations created by and catering to young adults. These organizations focus on subjects such as increasing political awareness, illuminating social problems such as drunk driving, encouraging philanthropic giving, and providing education about Judaism. The purpose of this study was to analyze these new nonprofit organizations to find out what they are doing well and what elements of their programming can be improved. The study also aimed to find if there are members of the community who feel disconnected from these organizations and, if so, why.
This study included interviews with 20 young adult members of the Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles as well as observational data collected at organization events. Interviews highlighted several positive contributions of new Iranian Jewish organizations, including high numbers of community members reached, providing opportunities for networking, and encouragement of philanthropy among young community members. Interviews also revealed some criticisms of current organizations, including a lack of diverse opinions in organization programming, too much fear-based programming, and an excessive focus on Israel-related issues. Information gathered from interviews points to several recommendations that current organizations can incorporate into their programming to address the criticisms. Comments from interviews also underscore the possible need for a socially or politically progressive organization within the Iranian Jewish community of Los Angeles. Understanding the needs and organizations within the Iranian Jewish community is relevant to understanding other immigrant Jewish communities and has implications for the Jewish community as a whole.
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Safaradi, Dalia. At the Crossroads of Three Cultures: Young Iranian American Jews in Los Angeles and Their Organizations. HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (formerly School of Jewish Communal Service) Masters Theses. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). April 2011: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=11783
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