A Census of Jewish Supplementary Schools in the United States - 2006-7

Aug. 09, 2008

Source: The Avichai Foundation


This census of Jewish supplementary school enrollment in North America was the first to be carried out in over a quarter century. A list of possible schools was drawn up, based on information made available by the larger bodies of synagogues, umbrella agencies and educational organizations. Over 1700 of the approximately 2100 existing schools provided enrollment data and additional information.


Among the main findings of the census were:


  • Supplementary schools continue to enroll the majority of students receiving a Jewish education. 
  • The estimated total of all children enrolled in Jewish supplementary schools in grades 1 – 12 throughout the United States stands at approximately 230,000. This compares to a total of 172,447 enrolled in the same grades of Jewish day schools as enumerated in a national day school census of 2003–2004.
  • Students are clustered in the grades leading up to Bar/BatMitzvah. After grade 7, enrollment drops precipitously.
  • School affiliation matters. Some types of schools have grown in numbers and increased in size over the past five years.
  • Chabad schools are the most rapidly growing type of school in the field.
  • Schools under Reform auspices now dominate the field. While they constitute 39 percent of all schools, they enroll 57 percent of all students. Schools affiliated as Reform on average have the largest enrollments.
  • Enrollments in schools affiliated with the Conservative movement are shrinking.
  • Most supplementary Jewish schools have small enrollments. 
  • This raises questions about the resources these schools can bring to bear — whether they can afford to hire school heads and teachers who can offer more than a minimum of their time; whether they can get the attention of national organizations or even local central agencies for Jewish education.
  • Shabbat Programs are a missed opportunity for many schools

    This census report raises important questions for educators
    and policy makers about the future of supplementary schools.

Updated: Nov. 06, 2008