Research Areas

Birthright

Jewish Education

Understanding the ways in which Jewish education works or doesn’t in particular frameworks and the relationship of Jewish education to Jewish identity are essential components of any policy discussion regarding Jewish engagement and/or Jewish continuity. 

Our program of research falls into two categories of Jewish education: formal and experiential. Our projects in formal education have included studies of day schools and day school funding structures.  Our projects related to experiential education have included studies of Jewish service, opportunities for teenagers, and Jewish camp.

Birthright Israel is a model of experiential education, and we have an extensive program of research related to the program's impact on a number of outcomes related to Jewish identity and attachment to Israel.

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Israel Studies

The dynamic relationship of American Jews to Israel is one of our most robust areas of research. Our largest program of research concerns Birthright Israel. Included in our Birthright studies is the Jewish Futures Project that is following a sample of 4000 young adults who applied to Birthright Israel. 

This program of research includes studies that explore attachment to Israel (and the question of generational distancing), how American Jews think about political issues pertaining to Israel, and how their views affect their feelings of connection to the Jewish state. 

A new thread of our program of research related to Israel is designed to understand the extent of hostility toward Israel and antisemitism on North American campuses and assess the relationship between these trends and Jewish students’ support for and connection to Israel.

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Socio-Demography

Knowing the size of the American Jewish community and understanding how Jews view their identities is central to assessing the current state of Jewish life. Because the US census does not ask citizens to identify themselves by religion, gathering accurate data about the Jewish population is extremely complicated. The Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) has become the leader in developing new approaches to studying Jewish socio-demographics. SSRI both develops national population estimates and works with local Jewish communities to develop more focused studies: 

The American Jewish Population Project (AJPP) synthesizes data from nationally representative surveys of the US population to arrive at and map the US Jewish population. The synthesis enables comparative analyses nationally and locally, as well as over time. The estimates are designed to be useful for research, policy planning, and as survey controls.

SSRI's community studies survey Jews in specific communities. Data from the AJPP are used to help develop estimates of local populations. Incorporation of AJPP process allows for more reliable population estimates and is cost-effective. This allows a community to focus surveys on understanding the dynamics of Jewish life in that particular region.