Graham, Roy (2011) Jewish community education: continuity and renewal initiatives in British Jewry 1991-2000. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In the 1990s, the leadership of organised, mainstream British Jewry was preoccupied with the challenge of Jewish continuity. Essentially, there were two narratives: a dominant one emphasising the dangers of assimilation and the decline of the community and a second, emerging narrative highlighting opportunities for, and indicators of, revival. During 1991-2000, attempts were made to establish a centrally-coordinated, national framework for mainstream Jewry: this inquiry focused upon Jewish Continuity (1993-98) and UJIA Jewish Renewal (1997-2000 – it continued to operate thereafter).

The context of British Jewry was examined for the purposes of the study. Thereafter, the research presented an analysis of the historiographical implications, addressing ontological and epistemological issues. Positivist and post-modernist approaches were contrasted and a qualified and cautious positivist approach was adopted, recognising the concerns of more relativist/interpretative perspectives. The methodologies of interviewing and documentary analysis were also examined in terms of hermeneutic issues and practical application. It also considered the research areas of triangulation, validity, reliability, reflexivity and ethical concerns. In addition, the data-gathering process was recorded and explained.

A documentary analysis was conducted with unrestricted access to the available primary organisational documents. A literature review revealed a limited body of writing specific to these events and developments. The purposive interview sample comprised thirty-five semi-structured interviews with lay and professional leaders from the organisations themselves and their partners; expert informants were also included in the sample.

The Findings emerged around the following themes: Vision and Planning; Organisation and Implementation; Leadership Roles and Personalities; and the Challenges of Cross-communalism, Relations with Communal Partner Organisations, Funding and Communications and Expectations.

Finally, the Conclusion was presented within the following framework: assessment of the current situation; presentation of an inspiring vision and purpose; clear articulation of compelling messages; motivate and mobilise key community leadership; develop a fundraising plan; assemble the right personnel and leadership in appropriate decision-making structures; negotiate obstacles and challenges; identify and address key stakeholders and partners; establish the educational model and operational approach; generate an implementation plan based on evidence-based strategic planning; create operational structures; encourage and enthuse people around the initiative.

The research has implications and insights for youth and community education and community development practitioners, as well as academic value.

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