2017 Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities

Sponsor(s): JCF: Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Jewish Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

Principal Investigator(s): Steven M. Cohen, Jacob B. Ukeles

Study Dates: June to November 2017

Population Estimates:

Jewish population estimate is 350,000 Jewish persons living in 148,000 Jewish households (any household with at least one Jewish adult).  Another 123,000 non-Jewish persons live in these households (non-Jewish spouses, children not being raised as Jews, etc.) for a total of 473,000 people in these households, 74% of whom are Jewish. 

Jewish adults number approximately 281,000 for the entire study area  -  250,000 in the San Francisco and East Bay service areas.  

"There are no strictly comparable historical data to the 2017 study data. The total
number of Jewish adults in the San Francisco and East Bay federation service areas in 2017—250,000—is the same as the sum of the number of Jewish adults in the 2004 San Francisco study and the 2011 East Bay study."

"As there has been no previous study of the entire Silicon Valley federation service area—the 2004 San Francisco study included Sunnyvale and Cupertino—it is not possible to be certain about change in Silicon Valley. The best conclusion is that the total Jewish population in the Bay Area has been relatively stable over recent years." 

Key Findings:

The 2017 Bay Area Jewish community study -  Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities  -  summarizes results of a study of the 4th largest Jewish community in the United States.  Principal investigators were Steven M. Cohen and Jacob B. "Jack" Ukeles.

"The 2017 Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities is the first-ever comprehensive study of the entire Jewish Bay Area—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma Counties."

Jewish population estimate is 350,000 Jewish persons living in 148,000 Jewish households (any household with at least one Jewish adult).  

Among the major highlights:

♦  Santa Clara County’s Jewish population of 73,000 is the largest of the ten counties in
the Bay Area. 

♦ Of all Jews living in the Bay Area, 1/3 live in the East Bay, 1/3 live in Peninsula & South Bay, and 1/6 live in San Francisco County.

♦ Almost two out of five respondents moved into their current residence in the last five

♦ Only 28% of respondents were born in the Bay Area. 5% were born in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), 3% in Israel.

Demographics: 19% of people in Jewish households are children (under 18);
and 19% are 60 and older. 

♦ Boomers are booming—34% of adult respondents in Jewish households are in their 50s or 60s.

♦ 42% of respondents have a graduate degree—far more than U.S. Jews elsewhere. Women slightly lead men in graduate degrees.

Diversity: 25% of Bay Area Jewish households include a respondent or spouse who is Hispanic, Asian-American, African-American, or of mixed or other ethnic or racial background (other than white). For those age 18 to 34, the percentage is 38%.

♦ One-in-ten households include a respondent who is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents are most numerous in San Francisco—one in five.

Financial Need and Human Services: 22% of households report they are “just managing” financially or “cannot make ends meet,” while 17% say they are “well off.” 

♦ Jewish adults ages 35-49 are most likely to report "just managing" at best -  seniors are most likely to report being "well off."

♦ 2,000 Jewish seniors age 75 and older living alone are much more likely t o report
health problems than those 75 and older living with someone else.

♦ 30% of respondents sought assistance in the prior year for at least one of five human service needs specified in the survey (jobs, child’s special needs, elder services, housing, or disability).   9% sought two services.

Inter-group marriages: Inter-group marriage rates vary widely by age, from a low of 42% among those 65 and older to a high of 66% among those under 35.

♦ The overall couples intermarriage rate in the Bay Area is 54%; just over half of all current marriages which include a Jewish person are marriages to a non-Jewish person.  In comparison, the Pew 2013 national survey of Jews found an overall  61% couples rate of intermariage (DataBank calculations from Pew data).

♦ Just 26% of inter-group couples report they are raising their children as fully Jewish compared with 45% of single parents and 96% of in-group couples.

Jewish engagement: "Based on a wide range of measures, Jewish people in the Bay Area are less Jewishly engaged than Jewish people in the rest of the West (including Los Angeles) and far less Jewishly engaged than Jews in the rest of the U.S.  A relatively small, highly engaged affiliated population is offset by a much larger unaffiliated population that is substantially less engaged."

♦ Four out of ten respondents identify as Reform; another four out of ten do not identify with any denomination. Denomination is strongly related to Jewish engagement. 

♦ Very few respondents are “very interested” in increasing their Jewish connections.

Israel: "Just over 40% of Jewish respondents have been to Israel, somewhat higher than the 34% in the West as a whole (Pew Research Center data)."

♦ Of respondents age 35–49, most have been to Israel.

♦ Equal numbers of Jewish respondents are VERY attached to Israel as are NOT at all attached.

♦ Most respondents feel a Jewish state’s existence is very important, but 22% say it is not important or that they are not sure it is important.  "Younger Jews are less likely to feel very attached to Israel. So are liberals, inter-group couples, and the unaffiliated."


Sampling, interviewing, data weighting conducted by YouGov based on multiple sources of potential Jewish respondents.  "The survey administration was intended to combine probability and non-probability-based samples - using the probability based sample as a true frame of the population to determine the demographics of the ten-county based population."

Methodology report has detailed information; written by Ashley Grosse and Samantha Luks. It includes a detailed discussion of the sampling frames used for data collection, data collection results and response rates, questions used to screen and qualify Jewish respondents, pre-survey letters used as part of the sampling strategy, and the survey questionnaire.

Study was predominantly conducted via Internet June 28, 2017 through November 19, 2017.  Internet study resulted in 3,516 usable responses from qualified respondents.

♦ Sizeable mail-to-web probability component (details in Methodology report) yielded 634 Internet responses (and 10 telephone interviews).

♦ YouGov sample from its national panel yielded 180 interviews.

♦ Vendor-supplied sample of likely Jewish contacts resulted in 1,223 interviews, and 

♦ Jewish community lists (federation and Jewish community center supplied) yielded 1,506 interviews.

Data were weighted by YouGov and post-stratified.  Details in methodology report focus on adjustments to original sampling design necessitated by low telephone sampling results.

"Initially, an RDD telephone survey, a probability based sample, was planned to generate the survey responses that would be used to weight the non-probability based answers. However, an unusually low response rate led to concerns that the Bay area’s unique tech culture and demographics would deem this effort highly flawed, if not financially infeasible."

Summary of sample disposition on page 4 of the methodology report includes response rates (AAPOR RR3) for the sampling frames.

Sample Size: 3,516

Study Notes:

Additional reports and an interactive platform are expected to be available in late Spring, 2018.  Please check the Federation study website for updates and additional information about the Jewish communities in the Bay Area.

The data file from the study should be available through the DataBank by the Fall of 2018.


Funding for the Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life was provided by the Jim Joseph Foundation, Koret Foundation, Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, Levine-Lent Family Foundation, Lisa & John Pritzker Family Fund, Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust, Sinai Memorial Chapel, Taube Philanthropies, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, and by individual donors.

Language: English


Survey Reports

» 2017 Bay Area Portrait of Jewish Life Highlights

Slide Sets

» 2017 Bay Area Portrait of Jewish Slides

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» 2017 Bay Area Portrait of Jewish Life Methodology

Publicity Material

» 2017 Bay Area Portrait of Jewish Life Press Release

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