Studying the American Jewish Community
The study of American Jews just released by the Pew Religion & Public Life Project in October is the most recent of many demographic studies that have been conducted on the American Jewish community. Since the US Census does not ask questions of religion, other studies serve to compile data on how many Jews there are, their denominational affiliations, their political leanings, how they identify Jewishly, and many more important insights into the lives of today’s American Jews.
How is this data relevant in a Jewish classroom? High school students will be intrigued not only by the data on where Jews live and how many there are, but also data on education, income, and political and denominational affiliation. How do these figures compare to them and their classmates? To their families and their synagogue communities?
Teaching Idea: For older students, conduct a Jewish identity survey of their class or school (depending on the size). What do you want to know? What questions do you need to ask in order to get the information you want? Will the survey be anonymous?
GoogleForms works well as a survey instrument. Students work collaboratively to create the questions, email the survey, and the responses appear in tables and charts.
- A Portrait of Jewish Americans, The Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project.
The most recent survey of the American Jewish community, issued October 1, 2013. After 70,000 screening interviews, the survey was completed with 3,475 individuals, both “Jews by religion” and “Jews of no religion” (raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent, but not practicing Jewishly). Highlights from the study appear in an infographic.
Issued September, 2013 by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University. This study estimates the American Jewish population at 6.8 million, and 1.8% of the US adult population is Jewish.
This report, issued in 2012, assessed religious life in 232 countries from more than 2,500 data sources.
This is the World Jewish Population Report for 2012, showing Jewish population statistics for countries around the globe, including: America; countries in S. America; countries of the European Union and FSU; and, Israel. See especially page 59 for a comparison chart of Jewish population compared to the general population of each country.
View population statistics by state, geographic area, and compare statistics since 1970.
- American Jewish Committee Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, 2012
Conducted annually since 1990 this survey shows denominational and political affiliation, as well as views on a variety of issues important to American Jews.
Download two maps showing 1) estimated Jewish population in the US by county in 2011; and 2) estimated Jewish percentage of the US population by county in 2011. These maps vividly show that Jewish communities are clustered on the two coasts and in the cities.
- US Religious Landscape Survey, Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project
This survey from 2008 offers not only specific data on Jews in America, but also shows each religious group in comparison to others. See, for example, which religious group has a higher percentage than Jews of post-graduate education as its highest education achieved.
Conducted every ten years, this survey was the last major survey made by the American Jewish community.
This was part of a national study of religious identity in America. The study found that: more than half of all Jews surveyed identified themselves as either Reform or Conservative; and, nearly half of all Jews belonged to a synagogue or other religious organization. See the brief highlights for summaries.