The 2010 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF)

Principal Investigator(s): Jacob B. Ukeles, Ron Miller, David Dutwin, Peter Friedman

Study Dates: March 24, 2010 - June 20, 2010

Population Estimates:

An estimated 291,800 Jewish persons live in 148,000 Jewish households in the Metropolitan Chicago Study area. Including non-Jews, the total number of people living in these households is approximately 381,900.

Key Findings:

The Jewish population of Metropolitan Chicago (Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will and Kane Counties) has increased steadily over the past three decades, increasing by 18% from the 1982 study estimate of 248,000 Jewish persons.


  • In the 2000 Study, an estimated 270,500 Jews lived in the same geographic area; from 2000 to 2010 the Jewish population increased approximately 8%.


  • The definition of Jewish persons used in the Chicago 2010 study follows the definition used in previous studies funded by JUF, counting as "Jewish" only those household members who are unambiguously Jewish ("Jewish-only");


  • "Jewish-and-something else-other religion" household members are not counted as Jewish persons in the Chicago Jewish population studies.

56% of Jewish residents had been born in Chicago; 29% were born elsewhere in the USA, 9% in the former Soviet Union, 1% in Israel, and 5% elsewhere.

The Jewish population is concentrated in the north and northwest as it was in 2000.

Only 9% of all survey respondents believe that they will move out of Metropolitan Chicago in the coming few years.

Children under age 18 constitute 21% of Jewish persons in Chicago, the same as in 2000;


  • Jewish seniors 65 and older represent 21% of 2010 Jewish persons, up from 17% in 2000.


  • The estimated number of Jewish seniors 85 and over has increased 160% from 2000 [3,200] to 2010 [8,300].

Intermarriage rates are moderate: using JUF previous study definitions, 37% of married couples are currently intermarried, compared to a similarly computed 2000 30% intermarriage rate;


  • Using the rate typically show in UAI-JPAR studies, the intermarriage rate would be 33% (unambiguously Jewish person married to unambiguously non-Jewish person); the other 4% of married couples included in the JUF 37% intermarriage rate includes married couples where a Jewish-only person is married to a Jewish-and-something-else person.


  • While intermarriage has increased since 2000 (regardless of definition used), the proportion of children living with intermarried parents being raised unambiguously Jewish ("Jewish-only") increased from 38% in 2000 to 49% in 2010.


  • Intermarried parents who are raising their children unambiguously Jewish are much more connected to the Jewish community than other intermarried families with children.

The percentage of Jewish households which report synagogue membership is 36%, lower than the 42% rate reported in 2000.


  • Synagogue/temple affiliation varies by marital status, age, Jewish identification, and household income.

Jewish respondent denominational patterns in 2010: 45% Reform, 22% Conservative, 8% Traditional, 7% Orthodox, and 4% Reconstructionist; approximately 15% are either secular Jews or say they are non-denominational ("just Jewish").

Financially, just over one-in-three Jewish households subjectively reports it is either just managing financially or cannot make ends meet.


  • Just over half of all single parents and seniors living alone report that they are just managing (at best).


  • Poverty remains a challenge with at least 11% of all households (30,000 Jewish poor) falling below 200% of federal poverty levels.


  • Households fall below the 200% poverty level if their household income is below $22,000 for a one-person household, below $29,000 for a two-person HH, below $37,000 for a three-person HH and below $44,000 for a four-person HH.

Jewish connections indicators:


  • Being Jewish is very important to 75% of Jewish respondents; somewhat important to another 21%.


  • 78% of households report always/usually lighting Chanukah candles compared to 22% who light Shabbat candles; 78%% report always/usually attending a Passover Seder; in 54% of the households a member always/usually fasts on Yom Kippur; 15% of the HH report keeping kosher.


  • 91% of Jewish households interviewed for the 2010 Study report contributions to charitable organizations; 67% report a Jewish contribution; 44% report a JUF donation.


  • 50% of Jewish respondents have been to Israel;


  • 41% of Jewish respondents report being very emotionally attached to Israel, while another 36% report being somewhat attached.


  • There has been a marked increase in volunteering: 54% of Jewish respondents indicate that they had volunteered for a Jewish cause compared with 29% in 2000.

Diversity within the Jewish community is reflected in many ways, including GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) Jews and multi-racial households.


  • Just about 3% of the community's Jewish households include a GLBT household member;


  • 4% of the Jewish households can be classified as multi-racial.

Adult Jewish households and Jewish persons living in a six county Metropolitan Chicago area; 74% of the 148,100 Jewish households reside in Cook County, 18% in Lake County.

Sample Size: 1,993 Jewish household interviews completed via 20 minute telephone interview.

Sample Notes:

The 2010 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community Study was conducted by JPAR: Jewish Policy and Action Research - - a strategic alliance between Ukeles Associates, Inc. (UAI) and Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS).

The sampling design utilized three complementary, stratified random sampling frames within Metropolitan Chicago: (1) A landline based, unduplicated, Jewish community list of known households generated from the lists of major Jewish organizations in the community, including JUF; (2) a landline based residual random digit dialing (RDD) frame, which included all possible telephone numbers in the Study area, after the List telephone numbers had electronically purged; and (3) an RDD cell phone frame for the entire area.


  • The total number of separate telephone numbers called for the study was over 156,000, including almost 26,000 within the cell phone frames.


  • Almost 15,000 households (including almost 12,000 non-Jewish households) completed the screening interview sufficiently so that their "Jewish" status could be determined.


  • 70% of Jewish households completed the 20 minute telephone interview.


  • Response rate (AAPOR3) was 46%.


  • Survey error estimate is +/- 4.6% for analyses using all 1,993 interviews from the 2010 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community Study.


  • Additional details, including discussion of post-stratification and weighting, are available in the Research Methodology report from SSRS in the downloadable files section.
Study Notes:

Of the 1,993 survey respondents, 4% of all unweighted interviews were completed with non-Jewish spouses who felt comfortable answering questions about their household's Jewish experiences, in order to maximize participation of intermarried couples.


  • Within the RDD frame, 14% of all weighted completed interviews were with non-Jewish spouses, while another 2% were with Jewish-and-something-else respondents.


  • Interviews with non-Jewish spouses accounted for 29% of all weighted completed interviews with intermarried couples.

Data file is available below in zip file which has both SPSS.SAV format (with more extensive labeling) and SPPS.por format


  • The data are weighted to reflect estimates of Jewish households and Jewish persons in the Metropolitan Chicago, as well as the total number of people living in Jewish households.


  • Data file weighting variables: (1) v715 HHWT_T75 is post-stratification weight which extrapolates to all Jewish households in Metropolitan Chicago - exact number is 148,087 rounded to 148,100 for reports; (2) v716 JewWt_T75 is post-stratified weight for unambiguously Jewish persons living in these households (Jewish+else or Jewish+other religion persons not included in this weight following previous Chicago study reporting models: precise 291,758 rounded to 291,800 in reports; (3) v717 PopWt_T75 extrapolates to ALL people living in these households: precise 381,858 rounded to 381,900 in reports.


  • Weighted Jewish household numbers: of the 148,100 Jewish households, 37% came from List-based landline interviews, 3% from DJN-not on Jewish community list, 43% from RDD-landlines interviews and 16% from cell-phone interviews.


  • Unweighted 1993 Survey Interviews:

    (a) Landline calls : 1,302 Jewish community list landline interviews, 327 landline Residual RDD frame interviews (after deletion of Jewish community list phone numbers from the RDD frame): 204 of these residual RDD interviews were completed with respondents with a distinctive Jewish name (DJN) from telephone numbers listed in local electronic telephone directories and 123 interviews were completed from residual RDD sampling frames (both directory unlisted and listed without Jewish surnames).

    (b) Cell Phone calls: 364 cell phone interviews were completed, including 335 from an extensive Jewish community list sampling frame of 7,500 cell phone numbers and 29 RDD cell phone interviews.