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Jewish Service for Local Teens: Fulfilling Expectations?
The next generation of Jewish communal leaders lies in the hands of the youth of today. In order to best engage youth and ensure the next generation of community leaders, it is necessary to indentify the factors influencing teen engagement in Los Angeles. Existing research shows the positive impact and importance of community engagement in building a strong identity and increasing social capital. Primary research was conducted through interviews with 32 local Jewish teens and 6 Jewish agencies to identify teen motivations. Questions dealt with their reasons for engaging in community service, the process by which they decide where to volunteer, whether or not local Jewish agencies fit their expectations, and characteristics which attracted them to the agencies in which they volunteered.
Teens were primarily found to be looking for eight agency characteristics when choosing to engage with an organization: flexibility, a positive social environment, feeling appreciated/recognized, agency accessibility, receiving substantive tasks, feeling the impact of their work, a universalist mission, and the ability to engage with their personal interests/hobbies. Based on this research, we offer three recommendations for agencies working with teenage volunteers: use active language and communication techniques that entice teens, recognize and appreciate the effort of teens, and give teens substantive projects that utilize their hobbies or interests. In addition, we offer suggestions for the teens themselves, as well as schools and synagogues. Greater civic engagement, positive identity formation, and a stronger connection to the Jewish community can result if agencies engage teenagers in a more significant way.
Page Number(s): 1-56
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Reznik, Devi. Schneider, Robyn. Jewish Service for Local Teens: Fulfilling Expectations?. HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (formerly School of Jewish Communal Service) Masters Theses. Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion School of Jewish Communal Service. April 2008: 1-56. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=7494
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