The Paideia European-Jewish Leadership Program: Graduate Views of Program Contributions and Impacts

Paideia – the European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden was created in 2000 through grants from the Swedish government and the Marianne and the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation as an academic and applied institute of excellence to work for the rebuilding of Jewish life and culture in Europe, and education for active minority citizenship. It offers an intensive one-year leadership program in Jewish Studies for Jewish life and inter-cultural work. Each year 20-25 participants attend from both Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds and various European countries. Paideia has also developed graduate activities such as alumni conferences and educational weekends across Europe.

In 2010 Paideia approached the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to carry out a follow-up study of graduates who completed the one-year program in 2002-2009 (8 cohorts – 168 graduates), in order  to obtain systematic information on its longer-term contributions, achievements and unmet needs.

The data were collected from 111 graduates through a self-administrated questionnaire, developed by the Brookdale Institute and distributed by Paideia on the web.

The findings from the study show that:

  •  All the graduates continued to be involved in Jewish related activities in their countries of residence after completing the program.
  •  Most of the graduates reported that the program had an important impact on at least one of three areas – their professional careers, the pursuit of Jewish Studies, and their involvement in Jewish community activities.
  • Most of them rated the contribution of the one-year program as high, in various areas related to professional enrichment and other aspects of Jewish identity, personal development and community involvement.
  •  About half the graduates reported professional contact with other graduates. Overwhelmingly, however, the graduates were interested in more contact and in Paideia playing a more proactive role in its promotion.

The study findings were presented to Paidieia Institute staff who have been using them to identify possible directions for the future development of both the one-year program and the activities with the graduates.

The study was funded by Irv and Carol Smokler.