Thursday, December 16, 2004

Not long enough...

Brandeis has unveiled a study of the long-term affects of the birthright programme, up to 4 years after participation. On the plus side:
They found that 52 percent of participants felt "very much" connected to Israel when they were surveyed in late 2003 to early 2004, or two to four years after their trip. Beforehand, only 35% gave such an assessment... Feelings of strong connection to the Jewish people jumped from 58% among participants before their visit to 69% after, a rate sustained years later.... Additionally, the rate of non-participants who felt it was very important to only date Jews dropped from 27% to 24%, while for those who participated it rose from 22% to 35%.
On the minus side: The report also found that,
"despite positive attitudes toward Jewish peoplehood, the trip has little effect on ethical behavior, religious behavior or participation in organized Jewish life."
This, of course, seems like a disappointment; birthright will only have fulfilled its potential if positive feelings are translated into positive behaviour. I would suggest, however, that it is still way too early to really measure the effects of birthright. These will only become clear in 10-15 years time, when we know whether participants were more likely to marry Jewish and bring their kids up Jewish. The effects of such experiences often do not kick in until it's time to settle down and have children.

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