Boston's Jewish Community: The 1985 CJP Demographic Study

Sponsor(s): Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP)

Principal Investigator(s): Sherry R. Israel

Study Dates: Interviewing April to mid-June 1985 - telephone interviewing used in 1985 for 1,287 Jewish households in the data file, while there were an additional 158 in-person interviews in Brookline-Brighton.

Population Estimates: 1985 Report estimates that there are a total of 228,000 people living in 100,000 Jewish households in the Greater Boston area; estimate does not differentiate between Jewish persons and non-Jewish persons in Jewish households, but combines them as "Jewish population."
Key Findings: 1985 Study Highlights:

  • Number of Jewish households in the broad study area increased to 100,000 from 80,000 in 1975 and 70,000 in 1965; number of people in Jewish households to 228,000 in 1985 from 195,000 in 15 (after a decline from 208,000 in 1965); report differentiates CJP area and broader Greater Boston throughout;

  • Jewish community is "...larger, better educated, more professional and managerial, more native born, living in smaller households and physically more dispersed than it was ten years ago."

  • 41% of Jewish adults were synagogue affiliated in 1985, the same as in 1975;

  • 39% of Jewish adults reported a contribution to the Jewish Federation, compared to a reported 44% in 1975, and 59% in 1965;

  • 33% of Jewish adults had visited Israel, compared to 19% in 1975;

  • 42% of Jewish adults identified as Reform Jews, 33% as Conservative, 4% as Orthodox, 14% had no preference, and 7% gave either a different answer or did not answer;

  • 83% report seder attendance, 79% light Chanukah candles, 31% light Shabbat candles, and 15%-17% use kosher meat and/or separate dishes; the percentage lighting Shabbat candles dropped significantly from 48% in 1975 to 31% in 1985;

  • 15% of Jewish respondents married only once and currently married were married to a non-Jewish raised spouse; a higher percentage of second marriages married non-Jewish raised persons.

Sample: Jewish Households in Greater Boston; all cities and towns in the 1980 Boston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) plus additional areas served by CJP.

Sample Size: The total number of Interviews in the data file (which was added by the Data Bank in May 2012) is 1,445; 5 cases have "0" weights on RW2, an important weighting variable.

Sample Notes:

Although the data file has 1,445 cases (with 5 weighted = "0"), other different sample size estimates are published in the 1985 report, since additional interviews may have been added to the data file afterwards, and/or there was incomplete information on some of the completed interviews (see Table 1.1, Table 1.2, page 10).

The 1985 Study was the first to utilize telephone interviewing; 1965 and 1975 studies were based on face-face in-home interviews.

  • However, 158 in-person interviews were completed in Brookline-Brighton.

  • Thus, the Study included a comparison of results in Brookline-Brighton from telephone interviews and in-person interviews; comparisons showed statistical differences on 2 variables only: foreign-born status and owner-renter status, so data were weighted and combined.

    Two weights are included at the front of the data file: (1) RW2 appears to be a Jewish respondents/adults weight which when used approximates the data reported in the Study reports for "Jewish adults;" (2) Weight2 appears to be a base weight which was multiplied by the number of people in the household ("C809") to construct "RW2."

    The number of interviews in the data file correspond to many of the numbers listed in Table 1.1; (a) Telephone from CJP lists: 653 [see variable "C754 unweighted, "1" code totals to 653]; (b) In-person Interviews: 158 in Brookline-Brighton from CJP List [variable "C754," code 3 = 158; plus, (c) RDD interviews in Brookline-Brighton totaling 69, plus other RDD interviews elsewhere ["C754" code "2" = 634 interviews]

    The sampling procedure was a combination of names randomly drawn from the CJP (Federation list) and random digit dialing in the larger community. The data were weighted to compensate for differential sampling by methodology, and geographic oversampling in the RDD telephone frame.

Study Notes: The 1985 Report did not differentiate between Jewish and non-Jewish persons in Jewish households in the Jewish population estimates, following earlier study policies.

  • "The Jewish population is defined as spouses and children of Jewish adults, regardless of religious preference, but it excludes unrelated non-Jewish adults."

  • The 1995 Report followed the same model.

  • In 2005, the Preliminary (Summary) Report presented separate estimates for Jewish persons and non-Jewish persons for 1995 and 2005, but not for prior years.

  • In 2005, the definition of the geographic area included shifted from Greater Boston to the CJP catchment area only.


Survey Reports

» Main Report

» Exploratory Committee Report

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» Questionnaire

Data Files and Data Definitions

» Zipped SPSS Data File

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