How the Newest New York Jewish Community Study Has Changed How We Study Jews

February 4, 2013

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


Haviv Rettig Gur writes about how the latest community study of New York Jewry  by the UJA-Federation of New York has broken new ground in the complicated art of studying American Jews. By sampling an unprecedented 6,000 households, asking new kinds of questions about religious practice, and focusing on areas with low rates of affiliation alongside the more concentrated Jewish communities, the study has for the first time offered local Jewish organizations and community planners new tools for tackling questions of identity, engagement, poverty and education.


He writes:

"It’s hard to overstate the importance of this larger scale and higher resolution. In mid-January, the team carrying out the study, which was funded by UJA-Federation of New York, released an information-rich geography report that offers a snapshot of Jewish life in each region of the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County…


In addition to the larger sample that allowed for more detailed study of the geographic distribution, the researchers used a more sophisticated sampling design, called a “stratified random sample,” that enabled them to focus in on populations the community is interested in understanding but where more conventional methods would have a difficult time offering insight….


…the researchers identified areas more likely to have less affiliated Jews and made sure samples from those areas were interviewed in great enough numbers to offer statistically significant insights into the habits and affiliations of less engaged Jews – the very ones that many Jewish groups, including UJA-Federation, want to understand and reach.


These techniques allowed the new study, whose findings will continue to be published into the spring, to reveal some profoundly important traits and trends in the New York community.


So why does this matter? Is the larger sample size really so important? In practical terms, what do we gain from this expanded study?


In a word: Everything."

Read his engaging analysis on eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Feb. 12, 2013