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Building Up Jewish Identity in Youth Leisure Programs on the Example of Taglit Birthright

Student: Aleksandra Chebotareva

Supervisor: Jeanne Kormina

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Sociology and Social Informatics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2021

This research paper tries to understand the perception of Jewish Identity through leisure and educational program - Taglit Birthright Israel by young people with Jewish roots. The research also includes an attempt in formulating the construct of Jewish identity from the perception of the participants. In order to conduct this research, interviews with Taglit participants 2018-2020 and Madrichs from 2 non-religious Jewish centers from Saint petersburg were held. The research revealed that that Taglit acts as the social provider into the Jewish community: informants get to know about other programmes, using which they have an opportunity to move to Israel; some of the informants connect their career with Jewish community after Taglit and start to visit Jewish centers and participate in Jewish events where they can ask questions about their identity. In defining who might be considered a Jew, the informants highlighted: the blood relations, keeping the traditions and interest towards Jewish life as important, however they show neutral feelings towards religion, which is a good indicator of Secular Jewishness. Also, Jewish centers are considered as the forums that show that Jewish identity does not have one particular constant image, identity is allowed to be very personalised for each member. Jewish centers also have a role to show that identity is not situational (Brubaker, 2000) but can fit the individual beyond Jewish community which makes it invariable.

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