Jewish teen-agers in the Washington area are against mixed marriages, in favor of greater participation of women in synagogue services and divided in their adherence to Jewish beliefs and rituals, according to a new sampling of their community.
The survey, which was conducted by the 10th grade American history class at the Jewish Day School of Greater Washington, in Rockville, does not profess to be a complete reflection of the views of Jews between the ages of 15 and 17.
However, it is "meaningful," said Rita Wisotsky, the class's teacher. tr for ad one
Her class sent out questionaires to 500 teen-agers from lists collected from synagogues and youth organizations. The lists were heavily weighted toward the Conservative branch because of the availability of Conservative lists, she said.
A total of 204 youths responded.Of those, 39 per cent are male and 61 per cent female. Of the total, 13 per cent were Reform, 75 per cent Conservative and 8 per cent Orthodox.
Dr. Solomon Burak, headmaster of the school, said that while the results are limited, for analysis, they are "quite legitimate."
"I would say the survey is fairly reflective of the attitudes, divisions and problems in the community," he said.
Mrs. Wisotsky said she devised the idea to involve her students in research for the course rather than gimply writing a term paper or taking a test. She said the technique, though imperfect, was important as a learning experience. The students formulated the questions and collated the results.
"There were a few surprises," said Saul Kravitz, 15, one of the students who conducted the survey," but most of the things we could estimate before we started."
If there was a surprise, it was on the questions woman's equality in the worship.
To the question: "Do you feel that women's participation in the synagogue service should be the same as men?" - 63 per cent answered "yes," 23 per cent said "no," 11 per cent said "unsure" and 3 per cent said "indifferent."
Of the males who said "yes," none was Orthodox. Fifty per cent of the Conservative males and 75 per cent of the Reform males said "yes".
Of the females, 54 per cent of Orthodox, 70 per cent of the Conservative and 86 per cent of the Reform said "yes."
"I thought the Orthodox girls would respond more liberally than the boys, but not by so much" said Kravitz a Conservative.
To the question "Judaism will be weakened as women are allowed to become rabbis" - 15 per cent said "yes," 65 per cent said "no," 17 per cent said "unsure," and 3 per cent said "indifferent." Of the three groups, only reform Jews have women rabbis.
The survey found that 59 per cent of the respondents agreed that "belief in God is basic to my life as a Jew," while 15 per cent said "no" and 24 per cent were "unsure."
Thirty-seven per cent responded that "belief in the world to come is an important Jewish concept," a principal most commonly associated with more traditional attitudes. Forty-two per cent said that "religious observance is necessary to being a good Jew," while 39 per cent said "no" and 14 per cent were "unsure."
Forty per cent of the respondents said they attend synagogue weekly, while 21 per cent go only on High Holidays, 33 per cent "occasionally," 1 per cent "daily" and 2 per cent "never." The survey notes that "virtually all the responses were from youths who are affiliated with temples. Only males were in the "never" category.
One half the respondents said they pray only on the Sabbath, while 29 per cent pray only on High Holidays, 9 per cent "once a day," 3 per cent "three times a day" and 7 per cent "never." The ones who pray three times a day are mostly males Orthodox.
Marriage with partners outside the Jewish faith was considered a "primary threat to Jewish survivial" by 70 per cent of the respondents. Seventeen per cent disagreed and 9 per cent said they are "unsure!" Only 11 per cent said they wwould "forbid" a mixed marriage by their own child, while 53 per cent said they would "advise against it," 28 per cent said they would "leave it up to the child," 2 per cent said they "don't care" and 1 per cent said they would "encourage it."
Forty per cent said "an important part of being a good Jew means keeping a kosher home."
Asked which is most important to them, their "American heritage or their "Jewish heritage," 41 per cent said the Jewish heritage, 6 per cent selected "American heritage" 35 per cent said "both" and 18 per cent said "neither."
Moving to Israel was seen by 34 per cent of them as "more important said more needed" than sending financial support. Thirty-three per cent said they were unsure."
In a series of questions related to Soviet Jewry, the respondents were lukewarm about the value of boycotting Russian goods and services, boycotting companies dealing with the Soviet Union, sending letters to governments, giving money and attending vigils to help Soviet Jews. The boycotts were considered the weakest form of protest.
The most effective measure was deemed a financial contribution to a Soviet Jewry committee. "This substantiates the charge," the students wrote, "that Jews think that the surefire solution to any problem is money, while they may be reluctant to contribute their time and effort."