Promoting the Religious Development of Jewish Boys: A Literature Review and Environmental Scan

By Max Klau

Moving Traditions, 2007

Moving Traditions has decided to turn its attention to the world of Jewish adolescent boys. Anecdotal evidence suggests that boys are considerably less well served than girls by existing Jewish programming. Numerically, they are underrepresented across the landscape of existing Jewish youth programs, and there is reason to believe that those boys who do participate are less engaged than their female peers. But what is the extent of the problem? With this literature review, we hope to provide an informed answer to this question. We begin our investigation by surveying the broad landscape of American religious involvement writ large. In both Jewish and non-Jewish communities, how religiously involved are young people in general? How involved are boys and girls in all types of religious programming? Exploring these questions ensures that our exploration of work done within the Jewish community is appropriately contextualized within the broader environment.

We then review the literature related to youth development. Once again, this research is not specifically focused on Jews or Judaism. Rather, it presents an overview of the burgeoning movement to promote positive development. In seeking to support strengths, as opposed to preventing pathology, the youth development movement has begun to explore a broad range of questions with a clear relevance to our interests with this project. What qualities foster resilience in the face of adversity? What does positive, healthy development really look like? How can programs foster this kind of development? We provide an overview of this literature in the belief that this information will illuminate our investigation into Jewish boys in relevant and valuable ways. Lastly, we present a review of research devoted specifically to Jewish boys. There is currently a vast infrastructure of programs, schools, camps, youth groups, and other educational endeavors working with -- though usually not focused on -- Jewish boys. We gather together the research and literature focused specifically on this infrastructure, with a particular focus on the ways existing programs meet -- or fail to meet -- the needs of Jewish boys. We conclude our literature review with an overview of key findings, and highlight frontiers for further research and exploration.

Topic: Programming, Gender, Youth, Jewish Identification, Engagement, Boys, Literature Review, Identity Formation, Religion

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Genre: Literature Review

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Klau, Max. Promoting the Religious Development of Jewish Boys: A Literature Review and Environmental Scan. Moving Traditions. 2007:


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