Data On Jewish Community Now On Web
How many of America’s 5.2 million Jews are married to non-Jews? And how many of this nation’s Jewish adults attend religious services monthly?
Data that provide answers to such questions concerning the social and demographic characteristics of the American Jewish community are now available at an interactive website administered by UConn’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, in collaboration with the Institute for Social Inquiry (Roper Center) and supported by United Jewish Communities (UJC).
The website can be reached at www.jewishdatabank.org and is available to all for non-commercial use.
“The website contains the most advanced database of social scientific studies of North American Jewry and allows researchers to better understand the size and composition of different Jewish populations in the United States,” says Arnold Dashefsky, a professor of sociology and director of the Judaic studies center. “Individuals can now download data from the archive over the web and conduct their own analysis of it.”
The website is the result of a new partnership between the Center for Judaic Studies and UJC, a New York-based philanthropic organization representing 155 Jewish community federations and 400 independent Jewish communities across North America.
Over two decades, the UJC has amassed the largest archive of social scientific and demographic studies of North American Jewry in an effort to promote understanding of changes within the Jewish community. This archive – the Mandell L. Berman North American Jewish Data Bank – is now the principal repository of social scientific and demographic studies of the North American Jewish community.
Included among its holdings are national surveys of the U.S. and Canadian Jewish populations in 1971 and 1990, more than 90 local Jewish community studies from the 1960’s to the present, and the National Jewish Population Survey of 2000-2001 – reflecting the most recently collected data.
The archive, established in 1986 by one of the UJC’s predecessor organizations, the Council of Jewish Federations, originally was based at the City University of New York’s Center for Jewish Studies. Last summer, the data bank was moved from Brandeis University, its second home, to UConn, under the auspices of the Center for Judaic Studies. The UJC is also providing a three-year grant of $240,000 to support promotion of the data bank archive.
“We are so pleased to form this new partnership with the University of Connecticut,” says Mandell Berman, founder of the North American Jewish Data Bank. “University scholars, such as Dr. Arnold Dashefsky, will be able to effectively analyze the information housed in the data bank, including studies from North American Jewish communities and data from the National Jewish Population Survey, and publish findings based upon the material that will help shape the Jewish community.”
UJC’s decision to move the data bank to UConn was motivated in part by its mission to disseminate and encourage utilization of the archive by academics, students, and other researchers interested in Jewish life in North America. The North American Jewish Data Bank will continue to acquire, archive, and disseminate both contemporary and historical data and reports.
“Our goal is to aid understanding of the Jewish community,” says Lorraine Blass, vice president of UJC. “With our new partnership with the University of Connecticut and the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, we hope to improve the quality of research about North American Jewry and bring a new and exciting perspective to furthering that goal.”
A critical link in achieving that goal is the involvement of UConn’s Institute for Social Inquiry or Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. The Roper Center – the largest and oldest archive of public opinion data in the world – is collaborating with the Center for Judaic Studies in administering the website to make the data bank available as an electronic archive.
In partnership with administrators at the Judaic studies center, Roper Center staff with expertise in statistical analysis and computer data access systems, made UConn’s software compatible with the data bank’s holdings. With the website now operational, the North American Jewish Data Bank’s numerous unique data sets are now widely accessible and capable of being readily searched and analyzed by academics, students, demographers, and others who are interested in better understanding the American Jewish community.
“This collection represents a valuable set of topical data for the broader social science community,” says Lois Timms-Ferrara, associate director of the Roper Center. “The attentiveness of the UJC to these data is evident in their decision to archive these studies at the Roper Center, where the application of contemporary archiving standards assure these data will be preserved in perpetuity.”
Adds Dashefsky, “Understanding the characteristics of the American Jewish community is important, both for community leaders and for scholars of religion and society.
With the combined resources of the Judaic studies and Roper centers, a major thrust of our UConn contribution will be toward expanding the dissemination and utilization of the data bank archives.”