Understanding the Perceptions and Experiences of Jews in Texas
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Despite recent research indicating that the American Jewish population is growing in the Southern United States (Dashefsky and Sheskin 2014), there remains a dearth of information regarding the perceptions and experiences of Jews living in the state of Texas. This study employed the use of qualitative, semi-structured interviews with sixteen participants who identified as Jews and lived in the Central Texas area. Results describe how Jews process and negotiate their identity in social situations in their everyday lives. The findings show that living in Texas does impact the meaning making and formation of Jewish identity in nuanced ways. Furthermore, this study describes how Jews navigate ethnic and racial stigma and discrimination in social contexts, which in turn affects their perceptions of themselves. The results of this exploratory study contribute to an understanding of what it means to be Jewish in Texas, the meaning of Jewish identity, and how Jewish identity is a social and culturally constructed process.