Summary of Key Findings of a Census of Jewish Day Schools in the United States - 2008-09


Source: The AVI CHAI Foundation


This census of the Jewish day schools in the United States covers the 2008-09 school year. It is a follow-up to the comprehensive studies of 1998-99 and 2003-04, both conducted by Dr. Marvin Schick and sponsored by The AVI CHAI Foundation. The statistics in this census include grade by grade enrollments for every Jewish day school in the United States.


There were 228,174 students in Jewish elementary and secondary schools—the four-year-old level through grade 12—in the 2008–09 school year. This represents an increase of 23,000 or 11% from 2003–04, and an increase of more than 43,000 or nearly 25% since
1998–99. There continues to be significant growth in day school enrollment.


Key findings include:

  • Orthodox day school enrollment continues to grow significantly – a 56% increase in Chassidic schools and a 34% increase in Yeshiva-world schools over the past ten years – in large part due to high fertility rates.
  • Community day schools continue to demonstrate growth, both in the number of schools – 98 in 2008-09 as compared to 75 in 1998-99 – and enrollment, which has grown by more than 40% over the past decade. Of note is the increase in Community day high schools, which generates a significant increase in the number of students in non-Orthodox high schools.
  • The difficulties facing the Conservative movement can be seen in the nearly 25% decrease in enrollment over the past ten years.
  • Overall, enrollment in non-Orthodox schools is down 2.5% since 2003-04, yet is still 5% higher than it was in 1998–99.
  • Outreach and immigrant schools, which tend to serve more Judaically-at-risk populations, have lost enrollment, most likely due to a diminishing pool of potential students.
  • Outside of New York and New Jersey, 47% of day school students are enrolled in non-Orthodox schools.
  • Five out of six day school day school students in the United States are enrolled in Orthodox schools.

A full report and analysis are scheduled to appear in both hard copy and online in Fall 2009.

Because the data collection was conducted during the past school year, so that enrollment in all likelihood was not affected by the severe economic downturn that occurred after the school year began, additional research is being conducted early in the new school year to determine whether the economic situation has had an impact on enrollment.

Updated: Nov. 08, 2009