Posted on February 16, 2011
On page. 4 it says: “According to a recent study, participants in Jewish Service Learning programs are usually between 11-19 years of age, with most participants being 15- or 16- years-old; a smaller cohort is older than 19. Jewish Service Learning program providers estimate that in the United States, more than 8,000 teens participate in single-day Jewish Service Learning projects, and another 3,500 Jewish young adults participate in immersive Jewish Service Learning programs annually. These figures seem relatively substantial until one compares them with participation in Birthright Israel, which plans to take almost 10,000 young adults (ages 18-26) to Israel in Winter 2010-2011 alone, and which received more than 23,600 applications for those spots in just seven days.”
I have not done formal research but do not think the comparison to Birthright Israel is fair or accurate. The report that they reference only includes certain Service Learning experiences and excludes many if not all of those that take place in day schools, Hebrew schools, youth movements and in Jewish teen philanthropy programs and in other settings.
I know that those in the field of Jewish teen philanthropy do not consider their work to be Service Learning but think that if one asks a professional associated with one of the 85 Jewish teen philanthropy programs throughout the county to look at the goals the report mentions on page 3 and the process oriented indicators of quality commonly identified by program providers on page 4 they would agree that these apply to their programs as well. The report says:
“Examples of some of the goals of Jewish Service Learning programs include:
…There are, however, a collection of process-oriented (rather than outcome-oriented) indicators of quality commonly identified by program providers. These are:
My point is that more than 8,000 Jewish teens participate in single-day Jewish Service Learning projects and more teens are involved in ongoing programs and I believe the number is a lot closer to Birthright Israel than they think.