Population Report: More Jews Live in the U.S. than in Israel

October 22, 2010 — Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) have published a 2010 report on the American Jewish population, as part of a new North American Jewish Data Bank Report series.

The new report called Jewish Population in the United States-2010 shows a greater number of Jews in the U.S. than in Israel. While the article puts the total number of Jews in the U.S. at around 6.5 million, the authors recognize there may be some double counting in the methodology and believe the number to be fewer than 6.4 million.

Interestingly, the U.S. report contradicts the estimate that will appear in the World Jewish Population Report to be issued in the near future in the same report series, which will show 5.3 million U.S. Jews, explains Ira Sheskin, professor of Geography and Regional Studies at UM College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of this report.

‘The article on the Jewish Population in the U.S. shows a greater number of Jews in the U.S. than in Israel, while the World Report will claim the opposite,’ says Sheskin. The difference is in the methodology. ‘While the World Report uses national studies for its estimate, the U.S. Report sums up estimates of the Jewish population in over 1,000 local Jewish communities to develop a national estimate,’ says Sheskin, who is also director of the Jewish Demography Project at the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at UM.

The report was published by the Mandell L. Berman-North American Jewish Data Bank at the University of Connecticut, in coordination with the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ) and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). The data collected previously made possible an analysis of the Jewish population by U.S. Congressional districts for the first time, explains Arnold Dashefsky, professor of sociology at UConn and co-author of this report.

‘Each report that we have prepared, including reports for 2006, 2007, and 2008, is better than the previous one because we continue to add new scientific estimates and discover new concentrations of Jews in local communities,’ says Dashefsky, who is also director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at UConn.

Other findings in the report include:

New Internet-based estimates of small Jewish communities that had not been included in previous reports
Vignettes of seven US communities: The Berkshires, MA; Broward County, FL; Cincinnati, OH; Hartford, CT; Middlesex County, NJ; Phoenix, AZ and Pittsburgh, PA.
Comparisons among local Jewish communities on four different criteria: percentage of persons in Jewish households in a community age 65 and over; percentage of adult children who remain in their parents? community when they establish their own homes; emotional attachment to Israel; and the percentage and number of Holocaust survivors and children of survivors.
Some community estimates show marked increases in population, mainly because the data had not been updated yearly. Philadelphia increased to 214,600 Jews from 206,100 Jews in 1997; and Portland, OR increased to 42,000 Jews from the former estimate of 25,500 Jews.
Other increases are reported as a result of new methodology. Orange County, CA shows an increase of 33 percent; Ocean County, NJ, a 36 percent increase; and Dutchess County, NY, a 138 percent increase.
Only two communities show significant decreases in Jewish population. Buffalo, NY decreased to 13,000 Jews from 18,500 Jews in 1995; and Dayton, OH decreased to 4,000 Jews from the former estimate of 5,000 Jews.

The data will be accessible to researchers via an online spreadsheet, which will allow Sheskin and Dashefsky to update information as new estimates are obtained. The report is available at: http://www.jewishdatabank.org

The Demise of the American Jewish Year Book

Previous population reports had been a part of the American Jewish Year Book, which, after 108 years, ceased publication in 2008. The book was a major source of information for the organized American Jewish community, and for academic historians and social scientists around the world. The Year Book carried major review articles about various aspects of American and world Jewish life, as well as articles on Jewish population size in over 1,000 American Jewish communities and in over 100 countries. According to Sheskin, the current economy and new media were influential in bringing about the end of the Year Book.

’I believe that two factors caused the demise of the American Jewish Year Book. First, the down turn of the economy over the past two years. Second, I suspect that the sales of many Year Book-type volumes have been significantly impacted by the speed and accessibility of information on the Internet,? says Sheskin.

The researchers would like to include the reports in a revised Year Book. A meeting will be held at the 2010 Association for Jewish Studies annual meeting in Boston to discuss what to include in a new Year Book and how to publish it.

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