Problems Among Jewish College
Students in the United States and Israel
Department of Applied Health Science
Department of Sociology
State University of New York at Potsdam
Department of Social Work
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
that, although a high proportion of Jews are light drinkers, relatively
few are heavy drinkers. Research also indicates that the alcohol abuse
and alcoholism rate among Jews is lower than that of other major Western
religious groups, particularly Catholics and Protestants (Engs & Hanson,
1985; O'Brien & Chafetz, 1982). Evidence also suggests, however, that
drinking patterns and problems tend to change as individuals interact with
those individuals of religious or cultural backgrounds that stress different
drinking norms (Greeley, McCready, & Theisen, 1980).
The purpose of the
present research was to examine differences that may exist between Jewish
college students in the United States and Israel regarding their drinking
problems. We assumed that students in the United States have a higher level
of exposure to groups from different drinking traditions and norms than
students in Israel. Consequently, Jewish college students in the United
States were expected to experience a higher degree of anomie in terms of
drinking norms. Because such anomie is associated with drinking problems
(Hanson, 1972), we believed that Jewish college students in the United
States would experience higher rates of drinking problems than their Israeli
counterparts (Israiowitz, 1987).
An anonymous, precoded
instrument was used, which included demographic items, questions regarding
the consumption of alcohol, and 17
was administered to undergraduate students at 72 colleges throughout the
United States in 1984 and
1985. The 150
Jews, who constituted slightly over 3.507o
of the total number of students surveyed (N
provided the sample of Jewish students
from the United States. Ninety-one percent (N =
137) of the Jews were drinkers. A Hebrew version
of the questionnaire was administered to undergraduate students at BenGurion
University of the Negev (Beer-Sheva) in 1986. A
quota sampling method was used to represent the university's major academic
subdivisions. A total of 156 students
completed the questionnaire, 90076 (N = 140) of
whom were Jewish. Eighty-seven percent (N = 122) of the Israeli Jewish
students were drinkers.
differences were found between the drinking behavior of the two samples.
Specifically, it was more common for students in the United States to have
a hangover (X2 = 14.93, p < .001), drive
a car after having several drinks
10.71, p < .01), drive while drinking (X2=
10.70, p < .01), cut class after
drinking (X2 = 3
.99, p < .05), and
miss class because of a hangover (X2 = 9.35, p < .01).
The exposure and interaction with students from different
drinking traditions and mores may be an important factor differentiating
Jewish college students in the United States from their Israeli counterparts.
The only other significant difference between students in the United States
and Israel was that a higher percentage of Israeli students reported being
criticized by someone they were dating because of their drinking
(X2 = 16.70, p < .001). This may be
a result of the cultural orientation toward problem drinking in that country.
Engs, R. C., &
Hanson, D. 1. (1985). The drinking patterns and problems of college students:
1983. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 3](1), 65-83.
Hanson, D. J. (1972). Norm qualities and deviant drinking behavior. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University.
Isralowitz, R. E. (1987). Israeli college students' drinking problems: An exploratory study. Psychological Reports, 60, 324-326.
O'Brien, R., & Chafetz, M. (Eds.). (1982). The encyclopedia of alcoholism. New York: Green Spring.