Education for Jewish peoplehood in Australia

David Mittelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Jewish peoplehood is a multi-dimensional complex construct that cannot be reduced to religious identification alone but is comprised of four distinct dimensions: collective belonging or identification with the Jewish people; Jewish cultural capital or familiarity with the cultural knowledge, language, customs, and rituals that makes a Jew feel comfortable anywhere in the Jewish world; Jewish responsibility or commitment to the welfare of other Jews; and interpersonal attachment or personal connection with other Jews. This paper evaluates the independent impact of Jewish schooling, informal Jewish education, and Israel visits within the nondenominational traditional and secular streams of Australian Jewry via a multivariate secondary analysis of the 18–44-year-old group of respondents in the Australian Gen08 national survey of Australian Jewry (N=2330). It argues that educational intervention is significant, irrespective of what kind of home in which the child is raised. Adopting the paradigm of Jewish peoplehood, we find that while day schools enhance Jewish ritual practice and other cognitive measures—such as learning Hebrew (Jewish cultural capital), youth movement participation and visits to Israel are the principal drivers of Jewish community activism (interpersonal attachment) and thus Jewish commitment and belonging (Jewish responsibility). Jewish education thus plays an important role in sustaining collective belonging to the Jewish people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-90
Number of pages33
JournalJewish Journal of Sociology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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