Growing up Jewish in Poland presents the findings of a study about the developmental trajectories of 17 children and adolescents from 14 families living in Poland who attended the Lauder-JDC International Jewish Youth Camp Szarvas (Hungary) for the first time at the time of the study (2015-2018). Resorting to a longitudinal analysis, the present study aims to examine what happens, over a period of three years, to a group of Jewish boys and girls that have experienced a Jewish summer camp for the first time in summer 2015. The study focused on the role that the summer camp itself plays in shaping a proactive Jewish life but also analyzed more globally other aspects that influence Jewish participation. What are the main factors that affect Jewish participation both on the kid’s and on the parents’ perspective? What are the possible “Jewish” trajectories of 13-to-16-year-old teenagers in Central Eastern Europe? Do they keep connected with Jewish life? If yes, how? What’s their scale of values? What are their priorities, their hopes, and their perceived future as they make their way from teenagehood to young adults?
The main methodological feature of this study lies in it being a qualitative, longitudinal, observational cohort study. In contrast to most studies that explore development retrospectively, this study involved interviewing first-time Szarvas campers and their families over a longer period, with up to three consecutive interviews per family over a period of three years. To our knowledge, this research experience is unique in Jewish Europe.