Exploring Identity in Jewish College Students: Giving Voice to a Struggle
Contributor(s)Tuere Bowles, Committee Member
Marcie Cohen Ferris, Committee Member
Alyssa Bryant, Committee Chair
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AbstractThe purpose of this study is to explore identity in Jewish college students by using a few Jewish college students' understanding of their own identity. The present research is based on literature surveying cultural and religious identity, particularly in college students. This study uses qualitative methods to explore the experiences of four Jewish college students at one university. A case study approach was used to explore the importance of campus culture on identity. The findings revealed the importance of cultural identity to the student participants. Religious Jewish identity was generally less salient to these participants. The participants also focused on connectivity as a defining characteristic of Jewish identity. This study explores manifestations of Jewish identity, specifically, involvement in Jewish activities, social activism, family interactions, and expressing doubt. The findings are explored in relation to the campus context at this specific institution, the negotiations of Jewish identity in a larger context, and the influence of peers. This research found that although students understand their identity as primarily cultural and secondarily religious, the two aspects of identity are inextricably linked.