Parochial or Transnational Endeavor? The Attitude to Israel of Adolescents in Australian Jewish Day Schools

Abstract

The aim of this qualitative research is to investigate the attitude of adolescents to Israel in Australian Jewish day schools. Using a grounded theory approach according to the constant comparative method (Strauss and Corbin in Grounded theory in practice. Sage, London, 1997), data from three sources (interviews, observations and documents) were analyzed, thus enabling triangulation. One key finding is that place attachment, exploration and criticism are not contradictory, but reflect the concern and involvement of the younger generation and serve as a form of reclaiming their connection to Israel through critical engagement. We also found that Israel is no longer part of the younger generation’s conceptual and extended selves to the same extent as in their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Therefore, Australian Jewish educators face a challenge of finding ways to enhance the attachment to a specific, parochial place in this era of transnationalism. We argue that Israel could still serve as a major constituent in creating a global Jewish identity provided that a more open and critical approach is taken to Israel Studies programs.

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Acknowledgments

This research was sponsored by the Pratt Foundation, Melbourne, Australia.

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Correspondence to Zehavit Gross.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Profile of Stakeholder Interviewees, Focus Groups, and Classroom Observations

Location Gender of principal and teaching staff Israeli Non-Israeli Jewish Non-Jewish Student focus groups (student numbers) Parent focus groups (parent numbers) Other individual stakeholders Class observations (student numbers) Total
Sydney 1 3 females
5 males
0 5 3 7 (54) 1 (4) Board President (1)
Board Members (2)
Parents (3)
Past Students (2)
11 (242) 324
Sydney 2 4 females
2 males
0 3 3 4 (30) 0 Parents (3) 8 (136) 181
Sydney 3 3 females
1 male
0 2 2 2 (20) 2 (7) Board President (1)
Board Vice-President (1)
9 (126) 163
Melbourne 1 4 females
3 males
2 5 0 7 (116) 3 (15) Board President (1)
Parents (2)
8 (168) 316
Melbourne 2 3 females
2 males
0 5 0 4 (15) 0 Parent (1) 10 (109) 135
Melbourne 3 3 females
3 males
1 4 1 6 (29) 5 (21) Board President (1)
Board Member (1)
Rabbi (1)
7 (182) 247
Total 36 (20 females,
16 males)
3 24 9 30 (264) 11 (47) 20 53 (963) 1366

Appendix 2: Questionnaire

  • What, in your opinion, is a successful school? What is a successful Jewish school?

  • Do you think your school is a successful Jewish school?

  • What is the mission statement of the school according to your perception? What do you think about it? (agree/disagree?). Would you like to retain it or change it?

  • What is the place of the Jewish studies in your school? What subject areas do you consider to be Jewish studies?

  • What, in your opinion, is a successful Jewish Studies teacher?

  • What is the attitude of the school towards Israel? Are you satisfied with it?

  • What do you see as the place of Jewish Studies within the school curriculum? Central? Marginal? Why?

  • What do you think are the main reasons why parents send their children to Jewish schools?

  • What do you think are the main reasons why parents do not send their children to Jewish schools?

  • Why did you choose this school?

  • What is the main challenge for Jewish Education today?

  • What are the main problems that Jewish day schools have to cope with?

Appendix 3: Written Questionnaire for Students

  1. 1.

    What is the most meaningful Jewish experience you have had at this school? Explain your answer.

  2. 2.

    Do you think your school is a successful Jewish school? In your answer please explain what you see as a successful school and also a successful Jewish school.

  3. 3.

    Why did you/or your parents/or both of you choose this school? Please tell us who made the decision about school choice and whether you think the personal/family reasons reflect the general reasons for other parents/students choosing this school.

  4. 4.

    What are the characteristics of the ideal graduate of your school? Why?

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Gross, Z., Rutland, S.D. Parochial or Transnational Endeavor? The Attitude to Israel of Adolescents in Australian Jewish Day Schools. Cont Jewry 35, 237–261 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12397-015-9152-3

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Keywords

  • Place attachment
  • Identity
  • Israel
  • Exploration
  • Critical engagement