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Survey: Holocaust Not Part of Diaspora Jewish Identity

Most Jewish Diaspora youth say the Holocaust has shaped their worldview but does not play a role in their Jewish identity, a survey found.

The survey, based on questionnaires completed by 60,000 Jewish teens aged 15 to 17 from more than 20 countries over 12 years, will be presented Tuesday during a conference at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, “Representing the Holocaust: New Perspectives.”

More than 90 percent of the teens, who were on youth group Israel trips, said the Holocaust has an influence on their worldview — more than a third indicated it was a “very important” influence.

By contrast, however, most of the teens did not believe the Holocaust and rising anti-Semitism today play a role in the formation of their Jewish identity. Only 21 percent of the youth indicated that they are Jewish in relation to the Holocaust. A series of other determining factors was more prominent in determining their Jewish identity, such as family, 96 percent; birth, 90 percent; religion, 72 percent; and culture, 67 percent.

“The Shoah is very important and really influences our worldview, but this fact doesn’t explain why we’re Jewish,” according to Erik Cohen of Bar-Ilan University’s Churgin School of Education, who compiled the research. “We are not Jewish because of the Shoah, even if it does have an influence on us.”

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