Community Studies - FAQ


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For general questions related to community studies, please refer to the FAQ ABOUT COMMUNITY STUDIES

For general questions related to participation in the survey, please refer to the FAQ PARTICIPATION IN THE SURVEY

Who is conducting the study?

The Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) at Brandeis University is a multi-disciplinary research institute dedicated to the study of American Jewry and religious and cultural identity. The Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI), hosted at CMJS, is committed to the development and application of innovative approaches to socio-demographic research for the study of Jewish, religious, and cultural identity.

Why do you need our membership and/or mailing list?

The starting point for a community study is the combined list of all households who are connected in any way with the organized Jewish community. In most Jewish communities, the majority of Jews are associated with at least one Jewish organization, so the best way that we can get in touch with your community’s members is through these organizations. The addition of your organization’s mailing/membership list contributes to the success of the survey and ensures that your members and participants have an opportunity to participate.

How will the list be used?

We will take all names and contact information from the list and combine those with lists provided by other organizations. Duplicates will be eliminated so that no household appears more than once. From this list, a random sample of households will be selected and invited to complete the survey.

Will the people on the list know who gave their name?

People who receive the survey will not know specifically which organization supplied their name. The lists will also be supplemented with publicly available data.

How will you protect the confidentiality of the people on the list?

All lists will be uploaded to Brandeis via a secure transmission and stored in password-protected files that are available only to the team of researchers. The data will not be released to any agency in your local Jewish community or any other outside organization. At the end of the project, the lists and all identifying data about survey participants will be destroyed.

My members have not given their permission to release their contact information. What should I tell them?

You can refer them to this FAQ list and assure them of the confidentiality of the information and the importance of the study to the community. Also remind them that removing a name from your list will not necessarily remove them from the study since we have multiple sources of information. Finally, please assure them that if they are selected to participate in the survey, they are free to refuse. You can also share this information with them:

What about those in the Jewish community who do not appear on any organizational lists?

While the majority of Jews in most communities are members of at least one Jewish organization, there will be some Jews who are not associated with any community organizations. To reach this segment of the population, we access publicly available information and purchase lists of likely Jewish households from commercial data brokers. 


What should be included in the list?

The more information you can provide, the more helpful the list will be. Information that we request includes names of all adult members of the households, number of children, mailing address, all phone numbers (work, home, and cell), and all email addresses, but we still appreciate lists that contain less information.

For synagogues and other member organizations:

If your list includes current members and nonmembers (participants, former members, etc.), please include all but distinguish between them. You could include separate lists of members and nonmembers, or a status column that distinguishes members from nonmembers.

For schools, camps, and other programs for children:

Your list might include parents and others (grandparents, donors, etc.), Please include all but distinguish between them. You can provide separate lists or by include a status column that identifies parents. If your list includes children’s names, please take care to identify them as children rather than adults. We will not contact any children directly but will only contact their parents.

For social service agencies:

We respect the privacy of recipients of services, whether or not they are covered by HIPAA.  If it is not appropriate to identify recipients of services, please send us contact information for donors, volunteers, and any others who are on your mailing lists.

What format should the list be in?

A table format with one household per row is most useful (similar to this table). We prefer an Excel spreadsheet (see an example in Excel here), however, if you use another format, we will take care of converting it.

There are people who are not Jewish on the list.  Should they be included?

Please leave everyone on the list, as we want to speak with as much of the Jewish community as possible and don’t want to miss any responses and information that could be helpful. If you know for certain that some households do not include anyone who is Jewish, those households may be identified and/or removed. It is not necessary to do this.

I’m ready to send the list. How do I send it?

On the web page for your community, you will find a button labelled “Upload organization files.” Simply click on the button to follow the instructions for secure file upload.

What other information do you need?

On the web page for your community, you will find a button labelled “Enter organization info.” Simply click on the button to follow the instructions. You will be asked for your contact information in case we have any questions as well as basic information about your list and the size of your organization.

For more information, contact Matthew Boxer ( or Janet Aronson (