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Ortho Kids Like Ritual, Summer-Camp Study Shows

While Reform campers define Jewishness through success

Ari M. Brostoff
October 22, 2009

An Israeli sociologist has published a study based on surveys he conducted with more than 700 kids at Jewish summer camps across the United States. Campers were presented with a list of 132 symbols—a range incluiding a talis, the Talmud, a Star of David, the Holocaust, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen—and asked how much each one “expressed an aspect of their personal Jewish identity,” Ynet reports. The results are interesting: Kids at Orthodox summer camps identified their Jewishness primarily with religious practice, the Holocaust, Israel, and discrimination; at Conservative camps, they associated it with values like democracy, co-existence, ecology, and peace; Reform campers saw their Judaism best expressed through such achievements as wealth and success. Anne Frank and Hanukkah are apparently Reform, while Auschwitz and Talmud study are Orthodox.

Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.