New study finds exposure to challenges in Israel encourage community service

NEW YORK (JTA) — Jewish young adults exposed to complex issues surrounding Israel come away with a connection to the Jewish state, according to a new study.

Commissioned by the Jewish Agency for Israel and Repair the World, a Jewish service learning group, the study surveyed 332 young Jewish adults who participated in 12 different Jewish volunteer programs and found that working to address various inequities in Israeli life does not alienate them from Israel.

"There’s no need for program providers and funders to present a rose-colored version of Israel to our young people,” said Dyonna Ginsburg, the director Jewish Service Learning of the Jewish Agency. “Quite the contrary, we should be looking for additional ways to present Israel as it really is.

The study found that 92 percent of participants felt more attached to Israel after completing a social justice program there. Exposure to issues like the divide between secular and religious Israelis and the status of Israeli-Arabs increased their desire to pursue further opportunities in Israel.

“The more people understand about their service, the more committed they will be to it. What’s more, we know that young people — particularly those from affiliated households — become more passionate when their service brings a connection to their own personal heritage,” said Repair the World CEO David Eisner. “We hope these insights will spur collaboration among providers and funders in Israel to build content and positive experiences for those motivated to volunteer.”

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