The Generational Transmission of Jewish Values in Small Communities: The Utility and Magic of Thinking Small

Richardson, Samuel, Sociology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wilcox, William, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia

As with other groups, Jewish identity salience levels are higher within those Jewish communities which have a smaller share of the overall population than those communities which enjoy a larger share; this is true even among those individuals who do not engage regularly in religious practices. Based on this foundation as well as my own mixed-methods research I argue that those who live in small Jewish communities have different patterns of identity development and maintenance, community structure, and – most importantly – generational transmission of values than those who live in the large urban centers. Behaviors such as assimilation and out-migration may also be less likely among those who reside in small Jewish communities. If this is true, it could be that in 100 years’ time the non-Orthodox Jewish world will be more accurately and strongly represented by Charleston, WV, Ashland, OR, and Colorado Springs, CO, than Boston, MA, Washington, DC, or Los Angeles, CA. In order to fully understand life in small Jewish communities and the future impact they may have on American Jewry as a whole, I am calling for a nation-wide survey focused specifically on these important yet under-studied communities.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
small, jewish, communities, identity, salience
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