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Social work in Jewish community centers: a question of compatibility.

A sizable, but unknown, proportion of social workers are employed in host settings. Barker (1999, p. 221) defined a host setting as "an organization within which another organization provides specialized services." Host settings include schools, hospitals, prisons and courts, and recreational centers, such as the Young Men's and YoungWomen's Christian Associations (YMCA and YWCA) and Jewish community centers (JCCs).

Employment in host settings poses a unique set of constraints and challenges for social workers. Decision making and major activities associated with the organization's mission are carried out by professionals of other disciplines and the social worker's role is ancillary (Gibelman, in press). Over the years, various commentators (Dane & Simon, 1991; Goren, 1981; Link, 1991; Reisman, 1981; Schafler, 1978) have posited that the incongruities are so great as to bring into question the appropriateness or fit between social work and the work of the host organization. Role conflicts, in particular, have been identified as a major cause of burnout among workers in these settings. These issues and problems, however, are largely based on speculation and anecdotal evidence rather than empirical investigation.

This article presents findings of a national study of JCC professional staff designed to explore the degree of congruence between social work values and JCC practice. Although the JCCs' mission has been modified over the years, it maintains some social service goals. For this reason, JCCs have greater congruence with the social work profession than other host settings. Even though the social work presence is more secure and constant than in other host agencies, social workers are still "guests" (Gibelman, in press). Although this study focused on practice in JCCs, the findings have implications for other sectarian and nonsectarian host settings providing similar types of services.


The JCC is similar to the YMCA and YWCA in its religious origins and its current functions. Its mission focuses on the cultural, physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, and recreational needs of the Jewish community. Created more than 100 years ago, the JCC has continuously evolved to meet changing societal conditions and needs. Changes affecting the purpose and mission of JCCs did not follow a linear process. At times,mission changes were stimulated by Jewish mission-based goals and at other times by social factors.

Professional staff of JCCs have become recognized and respected by the Jewish communal world as a vehicle through which a broad range of programs and services are delivered. Professional schools, institutes, and workshops have provided practical and theoretical knowledge to those choosing careers in Jewish community centers. Since their inception JCCs throughout North America have employed social workers to carry out components of its mission.

In general, social workers are employed by JCCs to work with and provide services to JCC constituents. Those working with adolescents, for example, lead activity groups and provide support to address such issues as self-esteem, socialization, family and school problems, and substance use. Similar services are provided to other segments of the Jewish community, such as single adults, older adults, people with special needs, and college students.

Historically, a social work degree has been the most common and most accepted academic credential for JCC work (Altman, 1988; Berger, 1974; Dubin, 1983; Levy, 1976; Reisman, 1981; Solender, 1957). However, changes in the Jewish community have called into question whether social workers continue to be the most effective professionals for JCC practice. For example, an appreciation for Jewish identity building has come to be seen as a mission of extreme importance to the future of Jewish life (Linzer, Levitz, & Schnall, 1995). Given this identity-building mission, which has been embraced by the JCC, some commentators have suggested that social workers may not be the most logical choice to facilitate achievement of Jewish mission-based goals (Berger, 1966; Bubis, 1980; Fein, 1999; Reisman; Schafler, 1978).

Over the past three decades, hiring trends show that JCCs have been replacing social workers with workers from other disciplines. Graduates with degrees in education, physical education, and Jewish studies have begun to provide new directions for the center movement (Fein, 1999; JCCA, 2000). As a result, social workers in JCCs, now part of an interdisciplinary team, encounter new expectations in line with this changed communal agenda.

The first JCCs, originally called Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Associations, were established by secularized Jews to meet social, cultural, and recreational needs (Kraft, 1948). Between 1881 and 1924, a wave of more religious immigrants from Eastern Europe came to the United States (Waxman, 1983). The earlier wave of immigrants, now leaders in the Jewish community, assumed that the new arrivals were interested, as they had been, in becoming "Americanized." As a result, JCCs were transformed from cultural and recreational facilities to institutions for acculturation and resettlement. English, American history and customs, and other Americanization activities were offered to prepare for naturalization (Kraft, 1967). Many of these activities took place in satellite centers under such names as Jewish settlement houses and Jewish neighborhood centers and were staffed by social workers.

Although Americanization was designed to replace the cultural and religious norms of the new arrivals, there was an unwavering interest on the part of the East European immigrants to retain a strong attachment to their Jewish identity. This ethnoreligious shift stimulated a revival of Jewish purpose in Jewish agencies. The scholar most highly recognized and noted for his writings on JCC purpose was Oscar Janowsky. He conducted the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) 1945-1947 survey, which was the first scientific attempt to probe the attitudes of professionals and lay leaders about JCC mission. Of the 301 JCCs in existence during that time, 270 were visited and 3,516 people were interviewed either individually or in groups. This sample consisted of 1,596 members of center boards, 231 executive directors, and 394 general staff (Janowsky, 1974).

Although the research was conducted using scientific methodology, the interpretation of the data and the conclusions drawn by Janowsky have been criticized. Rather than letting the findings stand on their own, Janowsky went beyond the data to conclude that the JCC should be predominantly Jewish in purpose and character. He used this conclusion to develop a "Statement of Principles." Purposes that he considered important were highlighted; those that did not match his own interests were criticized (Urbont, 1966).

According to Herman (1959), a large and influential group of professionals in the field believed these principles to be a violation of professional social work principles and values. Nevertheless, the emergence of a religious and cultural revival in the greater society gave support to Janowsky's position. His recommendations served as a catalyst for JCC leadership to accept, as an axiom, Jewish purpose over social work.

Since the Janowsky report, the literature has mirrored the view that Jewish communal agencies should enunciate their Jewish purpose. A study focusing on clarifying JCC purpose was conducted in 1962 by the National Association of Jewish Center Workers (NAJCW, now the Association of Jewish Center Professionals [AJCP]). This study had qualitative and quantitative components, involving content analysis of JCC documents, interviews with JCC personnel, and a survey distributed to center workers. Details about the study itself appear to have been discarded; as a result, all information reported is from secondary source material, none of which refers to the quantitative data.

The NAJCW study sought to clarify center purpose for professional and nonprofessional leadership. However, Levy (1964) inferred that the NAJCW study produced a confusing mass of voluminous data and that items identified as purposes were actually functions and items identified as goals were actually value judgments. The methodology was seen as flawed because respondents were confused about the terminology used. A doctoral dissertation by Urbont (1966) attempted a partial replication of the 1962 NAJCW survey, but modified the NAJCW instrument to better clarify terms and made other adjustments to avoid "many of the pitfalls and confusions" that emerged from the NAJCW study (p. 9).

Urbont (1966) conducted a content analysis of the statements of purpose of 151 JCCs. From these documents, he compiled a list of 66 center aims, which served as the basis of a questionnaire that was mailed to 108 executive directors of JCCs. Respondents were asked to rate each goal on a scale of high, moderate, little, or no implementation. He found that goals seeking to perpetuate Jewish tradition received low implementation responses. He concluded that "the movement is not imparting Jewish knowledge ... and ... the movement showed consistent neutrality toward numerous Jewish and general issues, rejecting polarized ends like assimilation and parochial withdrawal" (Urbont, pp. 3-4).

These studies contributed to less attention being given to social services in favor of a heightened focus on Jewish priorities. As the JCC developed a new set of priorities and principles, new questions were raised as to whether social workers, who dominated the field at that time, were capable of carrying out this new mission (Berger, 1966), and whether social work education was providing an appropriate orientation for employment in the JCC field.

Berger (1966), for example, called for the removal of social workers, asserting that as a result of professional ineptitude, the social work profession has had a tragic effect on Jewish identity. He explained that social work was born out of faulty knowledge and distrust of sectarian ideologies. Others similarly questioned whether social work skills were really the most effective to carry out a Jewish mission (Bubis, 1980; Fein, 1999; Reisman, 1981; Schafler, 1978). For example, commentators (for example, Bubis, 1980; Schafler, 1978) maintained that workers needed to use ideologically directive techniques in practice, in which clients would be instructed as to which choices were right or wrong with respect to maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. If a client were to make a choice that was inconsistent with maintaining a Jewish life, it was suggested that the worker ought to deny help. This approach was antithetical to social workers' beliefs.

These statements highlight the dissatisfaction with social work as a discipline in JCCs and the perception that the "only valid business of the JCC" was Jewish identity and survival (Carp, 1975, p. 46). Statements such as those noted created a conflictual professional existence for social workers who remained committed to the values, knowledge, and skills of their profession. In a study of MSWs in the JCC field, Scotch (1968) found that workers who were deeply committed to social work left their positions in JCCs, and those who had strong Jewish identities remained.

In the most recent study of all JCC professional and executive staff, Schor and Cohen (2002) found, based on a 60 percent response rate, that between 1987 and 2001 the number of JCC professionals with any type of master's or graduate degree shrank from 56 percent to 42 percent. Although a decline in the number of social workers was discovered, this is understandable given that in JCCs of the past, MSWs were found in every department, whereas now, they are found primarily in departments that maintain a social service function. Schor and Cohen found that JCCs were hiring fewer workers with advanced credentials and more workers with bachelor's degrees. They called on the JCC movement to "raise the bar" on education attainment.

During the early days of the JCC movement, when social work and JCC work were seen as highly compatible, social workers practiced with a higher degree of functional autonomy. The executive staff of most JCCs were social workers, as were department heads, line staff, and the majority of the JCC labor force (Levy, 1976; Reisman, 1981). The trend, however, toward an interdisciplinary bureaucratic structure with many social workers functioning as "guests," has been apparent since the 1950s (Table 1). A survey of JCC professionals found that the common denominator for staff in all management and program staff was the use of social workers "where possible" (Scotch, 1968). Non-social workers were hired as a result of "recruitment and availability" obstacles.

This study builds on these earlier empirical investigations, and some of the questions asked in these earlier studies have been included. As discussed, the majority of studies conducted on the congruence between JCC needs and social work practice were proclaimed to be methodologically biased or otherwise flawed; for this study, questions on the survey instrument were modified to rectify these deficiencies.


This study sought to explore the extent to which JCC social work professionals employed in nonexecutive capacities reported that they use social work knowledge, values, and skills in carrying out their job responsibilities; and the extent to which JCC social workers reported experiencing conflict in carrying out Jewish-based and social work roles.

The Jewish Community Center Association (JCCA) lists just over 200 JCCs and branches in the United States and Canada. The survey was sent to practitioners at 191 JCCs; personnel of Canadian JCCs and JCC camps were not included. The sample was drawn from a population of MSW and non-MSW personnel who worked in departments that both historically and currently have used social work practitioners to work with children, teenagers, college students, single people, older adults, and camping programs. Other departments of the JCC do not generally employ social work staff and therefore were not included. The names of potential respondents were obtained from the AJCP staff directory; JCC Web sites that list professional personnel; and the human resources department of individual JCCs. A task analysis section of the survey was used to identify the social work content of JCC practice. Theories based on task analysis were identified for hypotheses building and testing.

One hundred ninety-eight of 600 surveys mailed were returned, yielding a 33 percent response rate. Two mailings of the survey were conducted, followed by telephone calls to those who did not respond. JCC professionals are generally committed to expressing their views on their work and profession (Schor & Cohen, 2002). However, past studies of JCC professionals that received high response rates (60 percent to 70 percent) were initiated by JCCA, and respondents may have felt more compelled to respond to research generated by their professional association than by an outside researcher.

Key Variables

The dependent variable consisted of the social work roles generally included in the following six departments: children, teenagers, college students, single people, older adults, and camping. The survey asked respondents to indicate the extent to which they fulfilled specific social work responsibilities. I developed a composite scale representing social work functions at the JCC: work with individuals and groups, community work, agency or interagency coalitions, and program or policy development. Respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they fulfilled these functions.

A factor analysis (principal component, varimax rotation) was conducted on the dependent variable to investigate the dimensionality of the construct. A factor loading value of .4 or greater was used as a guide and two main factors or scales emerged: (1) direct practice functions and (2) indirect practice functions. The results of the factor analysis are shown in the Appendix.

A bivariate correlation coefficient was used to determine the strength of the relationship between direct and indirect aspects of practice. Barker (1999) asserted that direct practice is synonymous with one-on-one personal contact and pertains to the roles used by social workers in working directly with clients. Gibelman (1995) stated that in indirect practice or macro practice, "activities are oriented to achieving social goals or developing human opportunities" (p. xxi). Normality of the two measures was examined through the use of stem-and-leaf plot and a Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) test (Table 2).

For each hypothesis, the independent variable consisted of the factors JCC professionals may use or encounter as part of their job.

Composite indices were also developed to reflect independent variables: the extent to which JCC program staff perceive that there is value placed on social work practices and affiliations at the JCC; the importance of having a social work education and social work skills; the importance of Jewish literacy for work at the JCC; the extent to which JCC program staff use Jewish-based skills, values, and knowledge; and the extent to which JCC program staff experience role conflict (see Table 3). These indices were developed specifically for this study. A Cronbach's alpha was conducted to assess the reliability of the indices. Responses were recategorized as high or low based on original rating scales, that is, high to low corresponding with "important" to "unimportant" "agree" to "disagree" and "often" to "rarely."

Several sources were used as a basis for devising the questions on the instrument. These sources in cluded the Standards for the Classification of Social Work Practice (NASW, 1981), the Standards for JCCs (JCCA, 2000), and the Jewish Communal Service Association's 1999 survey of its membership. The survey was divided into three sections on the basis of these sources.

The NASW standards are 20 years old. More recent works on social work job classification were also referenced for use in survey design. These include Teare and Sheafor's (1995) task descriptions of social work practice and O'Hare and Collins's (1997) scale for measuring social work practice skills.

Questions regarding the Judaic components of practice in the JCC were developed using the JCCA (2000) Standards for JCCs. These standards were subjected to review and validation by key informants within the JCC movement (JCCA).

The instrument was pretested to assess the extent to which respondents interpreted the questions as intended. The pretest demonstrated that the items in the questionnaire were understood. A panel of experts was used to help judge whether the scales that emerged from the factor analysis accurately reflected the two aspects of practice. Focus groups were also used to ensure that the research questions accurately reflected agency realities. Two changes were made: Two demographic open-ended questions were added, and the questionnaire was shortened; I felt that the questionnaire was lengthy and could affect the response rate. Data analysis involved the use of two statistical tests, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the independent t test. The independent variables were dichotomized by determining the mean and combining the scores. Each scale was dichotomized as greater (importance, time spent) or lesser (importance, time spent). Scores above the mean were scored as high and those at or below the mean were scored as low. Where significant F values were found, comparison tests among means were performed using the Bonferroni post hoc test. For example, this test was applied to investigate differences between MSWs and those with other or no master's degree.


Composite Indices

A bivariate correlation coefficient was used to determine the strength of the relationship between direct and indirect aspects of the professional role at the JCC. The test revealed relatively low correlations (.377, p = 000). This suggests that the two were separate and distinct. The shape and distribution of the stem-and-leaf plots revealed that the data conformed to a normal distribution. The p level of the K-S test, which was greater than .20 for both distributions, indicated normalcy. Scores were calculated by obtaining a mean score for the set of items in each scale. Cronbach's alphas, conducted to assess the reliability of the independent variable composite indices, all were above .70.


Social workers in JCCs share many of the demographic characteristics of the overall social work labor force: overwhelmingly female and white (Gibelman & Schervish, 1997). JCC personnel are relatively young, with the vast majority under age 50.

Almost all (96.6 percent) of the respondents had a bachelor's degree, nearly two-thirds (65.7 percent) had a master's degree, and more than one-quarter (27.6 percent) had received their degree after 1990. More than 70 percent of respondents with master's degrees had an MSW; for 65.7 percent it was the sole post-baccalaureate degree, and 5.6 percent held a joint MSW/Jewish communal service degree.

The Social Work Role

Social workers were engaged in direct and indirect practice roles. There appears to be an important distinction between the roles of MSWs and non-MSWs, with MSWs more involved in direct practice roles. Non-social workers, 46 percent of whom did not hold a master's degree (JCCA, 2000), may be engaged in similar roles, but did not use the same methods or education to carry these out (see Table 4). The Bonferroni post hoc test revealed a significant mean difference between those with MSWs and those without a master's degree.

The findings suggest that regardless of a worker's credentials, there was an appreciation for the principles and practices of and affiliations with social work (t = 3.01, p = .033) (see Table 5). This finding is contrary to much of the commentary concerning the "fit" between social work practice and JCC mission (Berger, 1966; Bubis, 1980; Fein, 1999; Reisman, 1981; Schafler, 1978). Also, social workers' perceptions of JCC commitment to social work practices and principles, whether positive or negative, did not play a part in determining role implementation (t = -2.24, p = .027).

Findings also indicate that, in general, JCC workers are committed to the Jewish mission of the agency. Two key findings support this conclusion. The first concerns perceptions about the importance of Jewish literacy for work in the JCC (Table 5). Alone, this finding merely suggests that workers perceive that a familiarity with key phrases, ideas, concepts, texts, and moments in Jewish experience is important to their work (t = -1.43, p = .104) (Table 5). The second finding, pertaining to the extent to which workers use Jewish practice principles, suggests that perceptions are manifest in the way social workers practice in JCCs (direct t = -4.26, p = .000) (indirect t = 5.71, p = .000) (see Table 5). This finding is significant in that it negates a key complaint of earlier commentators (for example, Bubis, 1980; Schafler, 1978) that social workers in JCCs are indifferent to the Jewish component of practice. The findings also indicate that workers experience only minimal role conflict between Jewish and social work roles (t = 1.78, p = .081) (Table 5).


The 33 percent response rate suggests the operation of self-selection bias. That is, the workers who chose to participate in the study may not have been representative of JCC workers in general. Demographic information was not available for potential respondents; as a result, it was not possible to determine how respondents differed from nonrespondents. The findings reflect the views of respondents, not the total population. The findings are limited to the extent that respondents interpret the nature of the tasks they perform in the same way. For example, a term such as "diagnosis" may be interpreted differently by different people. As a result, responses may differ on the basis of interpretation or perception.

Several of the conclusions reached relating to MSWs may be applicable to other helping professions, including psychology, Jewish communal service, guidance, psychiatry, and counseling. Many of the skills, values, and knowledge attributed to social work are generic to these other helping professions. In future studies, a greater degree of specificity may help to identify the uniqueness of each helping profession. Although findings can be generalizable to other helping professions, it should be noted that there are relatively few JCC workers with non-social work master's degrees.


Although there has been a dearth of empirical investigations about the extent to which social work knowledge and skills are applied to JCC work, a review of the opinion-based literature strongly suggested that the social work role in the JCC has been obfuscated (Altman, 1988; Carp, 1975; Shiffman, 1956). This study investigated perceptions about social work in the JCC from the vantage point of current professional employees. The results are instructive with regard to at least partially negating much of the earlier and ongoing dialogue about the role of social work in JCCs.

Many of the stated reasons for the diminution of the social work role in JCCs are rooted in philosophical preferences or perceptions about the desired orientation of JCC activities. Thus, much of the literature has reflected what commentators think "ought to be" based on their own frame of reference. It appears that this animosity either was exaggerated in the absence of empirical verification or has not resulted in the elimination of the social work role in JCCs. This and other studies (Schor & Cohen, 2002) revealed that although less so than in the past, social workers are still hired by JCCs. Nevertheless, the social work role has evolved.

In the past, JCCs were almost entirely staffed by social workers. It was not unusual to find social workers teaching sports and fitness, leading pottery classes, or directing a nursery school. For example, in 1987, 31 percent of physical education directors in JCCs were MSWs, today the figure is closer to 1 percent. In 1987, 34 percent of early childhood directors were MSWs, today the figure is closer to 2 percent (Schor & Cohen, 2002). The data demonstrate that relatively few social workers continue to work in departments not related to social services. This appears to suggest that hiring patterns in JCCs may merely represent the attempt to better connect credentials with job requirements.

Commentators have identified various issues related to guest status that are applicable to the JCC. The literature on guest status indicates that social workers typically experience tension, if not role conflict, in schools, hospitals, prisons, and religious institutions (Dane & Simon, 1991; Garland, 1995; Midgley & Sanzenbach, 1989). Taylor and colleagues (2000) explained that territory encroachment; mistrust; personal bias; differences in beliefs, values, and goals; and confidentiality can produce conflict between the church and its social work employees. The results of other empirical studies show similar findings--conflicts are to be expected (Garland; Garland & Escobar, 1988; Midgley & Sanzenbach; Van Hook, 1997).

Social workers in this study expressed relatively little role conflict. In general, the study population appears to have achieved a balance between their role as social work practitioners and as JCC agency employees. This may infer a good fit between social work and JCC practice, at least among the responding population, diminishing the likelihood of role conflict. Even if there are conflicts, they are apparently not of sufficient import to affect practice adversely; the conflicts are resolved in some form without overt negative repercussions.

Key informants were asked to comment on these findings. The individuals chosen to participate represent a range of organizational levels (for example, line worker, middle management, executive, and retiree and consultant); geographic locations; and professional background and experience. Thus, their perceptions represent a wide and varied range of opinions and are valid reflections of the JCC field. They suggested that as social workers have become less consigned to non-social service roles such as physical education, Jewish education, and early childhood education, the probability and incidences of role conflict have decreased. For example, social workers of the past may have had more Jewish educational and religious responsibilities, Jewish educators are now hired to fulfill these roles (J. Katz, assistant executive director, Sephardic Community Center, Brooklyn, NY; S. Schauder, director, Friedman Commission for Jewish Education of the Palm Beaches, FL; D.Turitz, director, Older Adult Services, JCC on the Palisades, NJ; J. Boeko (retired), former executive vice president JCC MetroWest, NJ; T. Horwitz, program director, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, NJ, personal communication, May 1, 2003).

Schor and Cohen (2002) asserted that the shift in the educational training of JCC professional staff from MSW to specialized degrees has increasingly connected training to particular responsibilities. This phenomenon occurred across social work settings and fields of practice and is termed specialization (Gibelman, 1995). The same holds true for social workers in JCCs; roles may have become more clearly defined. For example, several JCCs have hired rabbis and Jewish educators for Jewish education roles.These roles were formerly assigned to social workers. In effect, staying within the boundaries of a professional domain limits the conditions under which value conflicts can occur. This congruence between social work practice principles and JCC role implementation may be a manifestation of continued specialization, role delineation, and clarification in JCCs.

These findings imply that role: conflict is not necessarily inherent in relationships between social workers and host agencies. Findings further suggest that social workers in JCCs possess two important traits that agencies seek in their workers: social services and Jewish knowledge and skills. Anecdotal descriptions and prescriptions without an empirical base may have offered misleading conceptions about the role of social work in JCCs, or conversely, the conflicts may have resolved in part as a reflection of time and JCC evolution.


Findings from this study revealed more compatibility between social work and the JCC than has been reflected in the literature. The findings, although limited because of low response rate and potential selection bias among respondents, suggest congruence between social work and JCC practice for the following reasons: The skills and knowledge for competent practice established by JCCA are reflected in the practice of social workers. Social workers perceive that Jewish literacy is important; when this is coupled with a professionally motivated attention to the agency's Jewish role, supported by ethnic-sensitive practice skill, the social worker is uniquely positioned to meet the Jewish needs of constituents. Role conflict is minimal, suggesting that past ideological conflicts may have been addressed.

The JCC, once host to social work, is now a multidisciplinary agency. Social work, once central to the competence sought in all JCC staff, has been assigned to roles and functions that primarily address social service needs.

The study findings heighten the ability to understand the context of social work practice in JCCs as it is characterized today. They demonstrate that social workers actively call on their knowledge, values, and skills; deal with the social welfare concerns of constituents; and use the agency's Jewish function as a guide for their practice. However, this study raises questions about the use and deployment of professional personnel in JCCs. The data revealed differences in the knowledge, skills, and values of social workers and their non-social worker counterparts; the question remains as to what type of professional education produces the best outcomes in terms of JCC goals and objectives. Answering this question involves conducting an assessment of the outcomes of service in relation to the objectives of service, an area of investigation relatively new in the human services and ripe for research.

All in all, the findings from this study suggest that social workers in JCCs possess two distinctly important traits that agencies seek in their workers: social services and Jewish knowledge and skills. These findings, I hope, will be noted by JCCs and other Jewish agencies in the ongoing examination of hiring patterns and personnel needs.
Appendix: Factor Analysis of Items in the Composite Scales: Direct
Social Work Practice Roles and Indirect Social Work Roles

 Factor Factor
 Loading Loading
 1 2
 Direct Indirect

 1 How often do you talk with individuals about
 their problems in order to reassure, provide
 support, or reduce anxiety? .52# -.08

 2 How often do you examine how the social
 environment affects your constituents? .50# .09

 3 How often do you advocate on behalf of your
 constituents in order to persuade others that
 they qualify for services or help? .66# -.11

 4 How often do you help constituents with basic
 interpersonal skills? .54# .29

 5 How often do you visit other agencies in the
 community and attend meetings in order to keep
 up-to-date on services? .25 .59#

 6 How often do you confront your constituents
 about unacceptable behavior in order to bring
 about change and promote adjustment? .59# -.29

 7 How often do you take your constituent's
 lifestyle and culture into consideration when
 evaluating his/her behavior? .65# -.20

 8 How often do you observe people and gather
 information in order to determine if physical,
 psychological, or sexual abuse has taken
 place? .60# .29

 9 How often do you conduct studies to identify
 community needs? .17 .51#

10 How often do you teach your constituents how
 to use the JCC's services? .53# .01

11 How often do you develop collaborations with
 others in the agency and in other agencies? .21 .52#

12 How often do you discuss options with
 individuals to help them understand choices
 and/or resolve a particular problem? .63# -.20

13 How often do you observe individuals and
 gather information in order to determine if a
 need exists for special counseling or mental
 health services? .67# -.22

14 How often do you help your constituents meet
 eligibility requirements for various economic,
 social, or other services? .58# -.28

15 How often do you foster the self-determination
 of constituents, including them in all
 decisions that affect them? .51# -.02

16 How often do you teach people skills that help
 them deal with their social role and
 responsibilities? .61# -.16

17 How often do you connect your constituents
 with services offered both inside and outside
 the JCC? .65# -.12

18 How often do you help constituents anticipate
 situations that may cause problems for them? .75 -.20

19 How often do you help constituents reduce
 dysfunctional ways of thinking or acting that
 contribute to their problems? .68# -.35

20 How often do you act as a community resource? .39 .41#

21 How often do you act as a liaison from your
 department to other agencies? .31 .46#

22 How often do you develop leadership skills
 with constituents? .51# .08

23 How often do you engage constituents in
 lobbying and other political action in their
 own behalf? .52# .15

Note: Boldface indicates factors loading above .40 comprised
each composite measure.

Note: Factors loading above .40 comprised each composite
measure is indicated with #.

Table 1: Distribution of MSWs for
Selected Job Categories in Jewish
Community Centers

 1987 2001 %
Job Category (%) (%) Change

Executive director 66 46 -20
Assistant executive director 55 33 -22
Program director 35 18 -17
Camp director 27 12 -15
Direct service 24 18 -6
Physical education director 31 1 -30
Preschool director 34 2 -33

Source: Schor, J., & Cohen, S. (2002). Centering on professionals:
The 2001 study of JCC personnel in North America. New York: Jewish
Community Center Association.

Table 2: Scales Reflecting the Two Dependent Variables for
Social Worker Roles in Jewish Community Centers

 No. of Score
Variable Items N Alpha M Range

Direct practice roles 34 178 .945 3.19 1 to 5

Indirect practice roles 12 178 .868 3.18 1 to 5

 Interpretation of Scale

Variable Low High

Direct practice roles Less frequent use of More frequent use of
 direct practice to direct practice to
 carry out job carry out job
 responsibilities responsibilities

Indirect practice roles Less frequent use of Most frequent use of
 indirect practice to indirect practice to
 carryn out job carry out job
 responsibilities responsibilities

Table 3: Scales Reflecting Perceptions and Experiences of JCC
Program Staff

 No. of Score
Scale Items N Alpha M Range

Perception of whether the 3 178 .822 4.015 2-5
agency places a value on social
work practices and
affiliations (a)

Perceptions about the 9 178 .722 3.268 1.33-5
importance of having a social
work education (b)

Perception that Jewish literacy 5 177 .701 3.531 1.20-5
is important for JCC work (c)

The extent to which program 10 178 .849 3.334 1-5
staff use Jewish based skills,
values and knowledge as part
of their job (d)

The extent to which program 3 102 .730 1.973 1-3
staff experience role
conflict (e)

 Interpretation of Scale

Scale Low High

Perception of whether the Agency does not Agency values
agency places a value on social value social work social work
work practices and
affiliations (a)

Perceptions about the Social work Social work
importance of having a social education for JCC education for
work education (b) work is not JCC work is
 important very important

Perception that Jewish literacy Jewish literacy is Jewish
is important for JCC work (c) of little importance literacy is of

The extent to which program Little or no time A great deal
staff use Jewish based skills, spent on Jewish- of time spent
values and knowledge as part based skills on Jewish-
of their job (d) based skills

The extent to which program Experience little Experience a
staff experience role role conflict great deal of
conflict (e) role conflict

(a) Sample items: Social work skills and values are respected in my
agency. Social workers are viewed negatively in my agency (reverse
coded). The JCC expects social workers to "put aside" their
professional education in order to be an effective JCC worker (reverse

(b) Sample items: Concern about the abilities of JCC colleagues without
an MSW. A degree in social work is important for anyone working with
older adults, teenagers, youths and single adults. My job could be done
by someone without a social work education (reverse coded).

(c) Sample items: Having knowledge of Jewish history, holidays, and
religious practices. Opportunities for continuing Jewish education for
professionals. Engaging in regular Jewish learning and education.

(d) Sample items: Do you carry out Jewish life and living programs? Do
you include Jewish values and Jewish meanings behind activities into
programming? Do you think about how to add Jewish knowledge or values
to programs, activities and services?

(e) Sample items: I often struggle balancing my Jewish role with my
other JCC roles. It is my perception that workers experience conflict
between Jewish and social work values. Non-social workers in my JCC are
less conflicted about their role.

Table 4: Type of Master's Degree and
Direct/Indirect Practice Tasks of Social
Workers in Jewish Community Centers

Variable Description M SD

Type of master's MSW or MSW student 3.26 .57
degree and Other type of master's degree 3.19 .57
direct/indirect No master's degree 2.99 .70
practice tasks

Notes: F(2, 176) = 3.185, p = .04. Bonferroni group 1 versus group 3.

Table 5: Relationships between Direct/Indirect Practice Tasks
and Perceptions/Experiences of JCC Program Staff

 Direct Indirect

Scale t 2-tailed t 2-tailed

Perceived importance -3.01 .033 * -.08 .003 *
of the principles,
practices, and affiliations
of social work

Perceived value of social -2.24 .027 * .51 .608
work practices and

Perception that Jewish -1.43 .104 (+) -3.09 .003 *
literacy is important

Use of Jewish-based -4.16 .000 * 5.71 .000 *
skills, values, and

The extent to which 1.78 .081 (+) -.28 .081
role conflict is

 Scale df Score

Perceived importance 176 Less important
of the principles, More important
practices, and affiliations
of social work

Perceived value of social 99 Less important
work practices and More important

Perception that Jewish 75 Less important
literacy is important More important

Use of Jewish-based 176 Less time spent
skills, values, and More time spent

The extent to which 149 Less role conflct
role conflict is More role conflct

 Direct Indirect

Scale M SD M SD

Perceived importance 3.02 .613 3.10 .687
of the principles, 3.30 .595 3.17 .687
practices, and affiliations
of social work

Perceived value of social 2.99 .622 3.12 .650
work practices and 3.41 .619 3.27 .663

Perception that Jewish 3.17 .545 2.92 .569
literacy is important 3.35 .586 3.41 .787

Use of Jewish-based 2.98 .597 2.91 .626
skills, values, and 3.36 .582 3.45 .637

The extent to which 3.32 .594 3.19 .619
role conflict is 3.12 .634 3.16 .709

Notes: Degrees of freedom (df) applies to direct practice and
indirect practice.

* Statistically significant at the [less than or equal to] .05 level.

(+) Indicates a trend.


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Jay Sweifach, DSW, is assistant professor, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10033; The author thanks Dr. Margaret Gibelman, Wurzweiler School of social Work, for her support and guidance.

Original manuscript received November 6, 2002

Final revision received December 22, 2003

Accepted April 22, 2004
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