Date Approved

6-23-1997

Embargo Period

8-25-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations

Department

Public Relations & Advertising

College

College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Shapiro, Steven

Subject(s)

High schools--New Jersey--Cherry Hill; Jewish day schools--New Jersey--Cherry Hill; Jews--Cultural assimilation

Disciplines

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

This study examines the goals and curricula of two supplementary Hebrew high schools and questions whether they changed their focus after the release of the 1990 Council of Jewish Federations' National Jewish Population Survey, which cited a 52% rate of intermarriage since 1985. The study investigates the synagogues' response to the reported 52% rate of intermarriage, as well as the response of the south Jersey Jewish community as a whole. It probes successful strategies for synagogues and their staff to increase the retention rate of their post bar/bat mitzvah students, through their confirmation.

By means of interviews with rabbis, principals, teachers, students, parents of students, and the head of the Department of Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, the study explores the relationship between additional post bar/bat mitzvah Jewish education and resulting student attitudes towards interdating and intermarriage. Results of the interviews were analyzed, using information gleaned from national studies and surveys.

Education is an effective tool for producing young adults with positive attitudes toward their Jewish identity but not necessarily young adults who reject interdating. Youths' attitudes toward interdating correlate strongly with those of their parents: many parents skirt the issue because they lack the skills and knowledge to deal with it. Therefore, communities and synagogues need to take more initiative and direct more resources toward educating the multi-generational family in order to adequately confront the problem of assimilation

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