Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

Socio-demography of American Jewry

Oct. 23-24, 2011
Brandeis University

In 2003, Brandeis University co-hosted a conference for researchers and policymakers on NJPS 2000-1, and we wrestled with how best to interpret and use the data from the decennial survey of American Jews. Although there is no longer a national study of American Jews sponsored by the Jewish community, the past decade has witnessed the growth of alternative approaches to understanding the U.S. Jewish population. To assess current understandings of the socio-demography of American Jewry, Brandeis again hosted a conference of research scholars and policy makers to take stock of current knowledge, consider future research, and engage producers of research and policy makers in conversation about the usefulness of the information being generated.

The conference was hosted in collaboration with key academic and policy centers concerned with the study of American Jewry. The Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation provided generous support for the conference, along with several other foundations. Presenters and discussants include both those who specialize in research on the American Jewish community, as well as researchers who are interested more broadly in religion and culture. In addition, representatives of Jewish philanthropic and communal organizations, along with journalists, were invited.

The specific goals of the conference were to assess the current state of knowledge about the size and characteristics of the American Jewish community, illuminate current socio-demographic research, and consider how the findings of demographic research can be used by scholars, funders, and policy organizations concerned with the Jewish community. One outcome was a scholarly publication summarizing current research and application. But, more importantly, the conference aspired to foster better informed dialogue about American Jewry and enhanced development and use of socio-demographic research.

Speakers and Participants