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September 2013
Leonard Saxe   

Dear Friends,


One of my New Year's resolutions is to be in more regular contact with supporters and those interested in our work at CMJS and SSRI. For this year's inaugural issue of Constructs, I am pleased to announce that the Steinhardt Social Research Institute is releasing today our latest report on the U.S. Jewish population. 


Last spring, as part of a special issue of Contemporary Jewry, co-edited by myself and Sergio DellaPergola, we published our 2010 U.S. Jewish population estimates. The new report updates these findings and provides detailed state and local estimates, as well as demographic information on American Jews. The total U.S. Jewish population, as detailed in the report, is now estimated at 6.8 million individuals, constituting nearly 2.2% of the U.S. population. We are also very excited to introduce an interactive website that maps the U.S. Jewish population.


Our report co-authored with Elizabeth Tighe, Raquel Magidin de Kramer, and Daniel Parmer comes in advance of the survey release of the Pew Forum on Religion's study of American Jewry. We were advisors to the Pew project and, while I can't discuss the results of their study until publication, our work will provide important context for understanding the Pew findings. I have written an article for the Forward about the Pew study and will share it as soon as possible. It will be followed by several other articles and reports related to American Jewish socio-demography.


Please note also we are highlighting in the sidebar a number of our recent publications. Last year was extremely productive, and our researchers were fully consumed with new projects, conferences, and a number of journal articles, book chapters, and monographs. We expect to share many important findings with you this year as well.


Belated best wishes for a healthy and peaceful 5774 and for a productive academic year. As always, I welcome your comments and questions about our work.


Best regards,


Len signature  

Leonard Saxe, Phd.

Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Social Policy
Director, Steinhardt Social Reseach Institute and Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Steinhardt Social Research Institute 

American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012


In an effort to develop reliable estimates of the size and characteristics of the American Jewish population, the SSRI has used a data synthesis approach to yield estimates of the proportion of U.S. adults who claim Judaism as their religion, the number of secular/cultural Jews (i.e., Jews who identify other than by religion), and the number of children. The accumulated evidence indicates that the U.S. Jewish population is substantially larger than previously estimated.  


Key Findings:


There are an estimated 6.8 million Jewish adults and children in the United States

  • 4.2 million adults self-identify as Jewish when asked about their religion
  • Nearly 1 million adults consider themselves Jewish by background and other criteria
  • There are an estimated 1.6 million Jewish children
The U.S. Jewish population is concentrated in a few number of states and metropolitan areas
  • Over 60% of American Jews live in just six states. Slightly over 20% resides in New York State, 14% in California, followed by 12% in Florida; 8% in New Jersey; and 5% each in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania
  • The largest percentage resides in New York City (13%), with the next largest in Southern Florida (Miami, Palm Beach and Broward counties; 8.6%). New York suburban areas (Long Island & Westchester) account for 7% of the total population. Los Angeles County (including Ventura and Orange counties) accounts for just over 7% of the total population
  • Additional centers include Boston (including western Massachusetts areas), Northern New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Among adults who self-identify as Jewish by religion 
  • Just over 1 million (24%) are aged 65 years and older
  • They are more than twice as likely as other Americans to be college graduates 


The American Jewish Population Project


What is it?


In conjunction with American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012, SSRI has developed the American Jewish Population Project, an innovative effort to map the Jewish population in the United States. This project is intended to allow comparative analyses nationally and locally, as well as over time.  


How can you use it?


These data are designed not only to offer estimates regarding population trends but also to enable local organizations to understand the scale and demographics of the communities they are part of. The information provided can be helpful for benchmarking initiatives and tracking outreach or engagement efforts.




Volume 7, Issue 2
This Issue
American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012
American Jewish Population Project

a CMJS signature project, collects and provides census-like information about Jewish educational programs in North America. 

Two new reports on Jewish day schools are now available. One study, conducted with the Intermediate Task Force of JFNA, explains the unique challenges faced by day schools in smaller communities. The Schechter Day School Network annual report describes enrollment trends and presents information on staffing and tuition in the network's 44 schools.  Read reports here.

 Taglit-Birthright Israel

On June 11-12, 100 scholars and educators from Israel, North America, and Europe met at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a two-day academic symposium, focused on understanding and drawing lessons from the Taglit-Birthright Israel initiative. Co-sponsored by the Cohen Center, the symposium focused on understanding Taglit's history, educational philosophy, and structure. The Cohen Center's longitudinal research on Taglit was featured in the conference including a presentation of new data on the long-term impact of the program. 


 Israel Studies

Just published in 
"Teaching Israel at American Universities: Growth, Placement, and Future Prospects," is based on a census of 316 colleges and universities conducted by CMJS in 2008-09 and 2011-12. The authors describe a slight increase in the number of Israel- focused courses and the variety of their subject matter. (Authors Annette Koren, Janet Krasner Aronson and Leonard Saxe)  

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Constructs is the e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies,   Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and  Fisher-Bernstein Institute