"Reinventing Our Jewish Community: Can the West Be Won?"

Sponsor(s): Western Area Task Force: Council of Jewish Federations

Principal Investigator(s): Jacob B. Ukeles, Mark I. Berger, Steven M. Abrahamson, Ami Nahshon

Study Dates: December, 1994 analysis of 1990 NJPS data.

Key Findings:

"Reinventing Our Jewish Community: Can the West be Won" analyzes data from the 1990 NJPS (National Jewish Population Survey) to answer explore the issues of Western US Jewry's connection to Jewish community, differences between western Jews and Jews from other regions, and strategies needed to create Jewish community in a radically different geographic and cultural context than older, traditional Jewish communities in the US East and Midwest.

Among the issues noted:

 The Culture of the West

•  Along with the South, the West has very high Jewish in-migration. Only four out of ten adult Jews residing in the West were born in the West.

• Jewish continuity and identity are a concern everywhere. In the West, the problem is more acute. Jewish affiliation, knowledge, education, religious identification, and traditional Jewish practice in the home seem to be at lower levels than in other regions.

•  In the West, one out of three Jews se1f-define as secular. There are more "secular Jews" in the West than in other regions. Secular Jews have lower affiliation rates than Jews who identify by religion - they are less attracted to being Jewish, less attached to Israel, less concerned about intermarriage, and less likely to live in Jewish neighborhoods.

•  Western Jews are the least likely to indicate that being Jewish is important in their
lives, the least likely to contribute to UJA-Federation, and the least likely to belong to
a synagogue.

•  Important aspects of Western American culture permeate and transform the Jewish
West - Westerners appear to be more self-directed and family-minded than community-minded; value informality; show great entrepreneurial spirit, technological orientation, and economic individualism; are more likely to be recreation- and outdoors-oriented; are more interested in spirituality than organized religion; are less organization-minded; and are more inclined to be wary of big government or centralized authority.

 

Language: English