Jewish Journal

Two Surveys of U.S. Jewish Population on the Horizon - Finally

by Pini Herman

March 11, 2013 | 11:47 am

Bean Counting to Discover the American Jewish Cholent

Usually surveys only make news when they are released, but two long overdue surveys of the U.S.Jewish population are being planned. The surveys are being planned by two different entities, the Pew Research Center and the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU.

The two US Jewish population surveys seem not to be replicative of each other.  The Pew Research Center's survey will be in the tradition of its previous surveys of American religious groups. Alan Cooperman, Associate Director - Research, at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Pew Research is “not repeating the 1990 or 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Surveys and will not use the NJPS name.”   The Berman Jewish Policy Archives at NYU did call it's planned study a National Jewish Population Survey and will focus on gathering data relevant to  Jewish communal and social policy issues. Use of both planned surveys may create a more comprehensive picture of North America's Jews.

Rather than being undertaken by the Jewish Federations of North America, the entity that has historically undertaken the NJPS, and collected much money over the years from Jews by claiming that this is one of it's primary roles, JFNA, as an organization, is not involved in both the upcoming Jewish population studies according to Jessica Pallay of JFNA.  

The U.S. Jewish survey being currently undertaken by  Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, (a project of the Pew Research Center) has an advisory council which has some members who are also involved with the BJPA 2013 National Jewish Population Survey planning..

A $1million for a challenge grant to the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner toward the costs of conducting a 2013 National Jewish Population Study has been created. Challenge grant matching funds are being currently solicited. The research team leading the effort will be headed by Steven M. Cohen, director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, and Jack Ukeles of Ukeles Associates, along with David Dutwin and Melissa Herrmann of Social Science Research Solutions, and Ron Miller of Ukeles Associates.

Mandell “Bill” Berman, whose foundation issued the challenge grant, will serve as honorary chair of the BJPA study.

Now, the question is whether the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will be inspired by the national initiatives and field a Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey last published in 1997, sixteen years ago.

Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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