British Jews praised in study as model for minority groups minorities

Named "Creating Community and Accumulating Social Capital: Jews Associating with Other Jews in Manchester," the report casts a light on how cultural bonds and associations hold communities together.

The concept of social capital, basically the premise that social networks have value and are integral to a cohesive civil society, was popularized by Harvard scholar Robert Putnam in his 2000 book, "Bowling Alone."

Written by social researcher Ernest Schlesinger, the JPR study looked at 13 separate recreational associations, including soccer leagues, golf clubs and Jewish theater.

Among its findings, the study shows how cultural rather than just religious bonds have become the common denominator in ensuring a sense of kinship between many Jewish people in the northern English city — a phenomenon inherent throughout Jewish communities in Britain, the research finds.

"This is a groundbreaking report," said JPR's director of research, Stanley Waterman. "It casts a light on a critical dimension of U.K. Jewish life by showing the power of the nonideological and nonreligious links that hold our communities together."

Waterman also points to its implications for other ethnic communities and the wider society.

"While the general feeling is that overall social capital is in a state of decline, studies such as this show that among key ethnic and religious groups, voluntary, grassroots associations still play a key role in holding individual communities, and society in general, together."

The Manchester report also has been acclaimed by British government officials as giving insight into how public policy may be executed to ensure that communities remain vibrant in an increasingly individualistic society.