Researchers arrive at a first-ever estimate of Jewish educators

June 3, 2021

Source: eJewish Philanthopy 


There were more than 72,000 Jewish educators working in the United States in 2019, according to a new study from the Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) that aims to better understand and support the Jewish educational workforce.

“Any mature and specific field needs a knowledge base for policy makers and funders to make decisions, respond to needs and take advantage of opportunities,” said Stacie Cherner, director of learning and evaluation at the Jim Joseph Foundation, which funded the research for the report, along with the William Davidson Foundation. The study’s authors and backers say this research is the first of its kind.

Researchers have in the past studied Jewish day schools and yeshiva teachers, as in the Educators in Jewish Schools Study of 2006 by the Jewish Education Center of North America, said Arielle Levites, CASJE’s managing director. This study uses a much broader definition of “educator”: Someone who educates or “engages” in a Jewish setting, regardless of the subject taught or whether the educator identifies as Jewish. This includes full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, but no pulpit rabbis, people who work solely in operations or administration or those who have a non-educational expertise, such as school psychologist or therapist.

The study counted educators not only in schools but also in camps, supplementary schools, preschools, youth groups, museums, adult education programs, college campus organizations, afterschool programs and family engagement or social justice organizations.

The census is the first of a series of papers exploring Jewish educators’ career trajectories, to be released starting in July, Levites said.

The study found that in 2019, there were about 96,000 educator positions. The greater number of roles compared with educators does not indicate a shortage, but the fact that many educators fill multiple roles, such as a classroom teacher who also works in a summer camp, Levites said.

The researchers arrived at the census estimates both by gathering data from national organizations that maintain their own databases, like the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Hillel International and the Orthodox Union, and by surveying individual educational institutions. Of the large national organizations, 55% responded, while 33% of the institutions that filled out the survey responded.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021