Changing Demographics

The significance of the students' message took shape in 1990, with the publication of the National Jewish Population Survey. The survey showed that:

There are over 5.5 million Jews in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of the population.
Half the Jews in the U.S. were born in 1955 or later, after the Holocaust and World War II and after the establishment of the State of Israel.

There is a clear inter-generational pattern of assimilation with increasing remoteness from Judaism in each generation of American Jews.

Jews in the Northeast and Midwest are increasingly moving to the Southeast and Southwest, geographical locations where Jewish infrastructures tend to be new.

The percentage of Jews marrying non-Jews is now at 52 percent, up from nine percent in 1965.
Sobered by these findings, federation leaders realized that Jewish affiliation could no longer be taken for granted. Because of the reduction in anti-Semitism, high mobility rates (especially among younger generations) and looser social networks, maintaining Jewish community and Jewish identity had become precarious.

And so, as previous generations have adapted to confronting the external challenges of their times, federations today have responded to the internal challenges of fostering Jewish continuity – for children, teens and adults. The findings and analysis of The National Jewish Population Survey 2000 will provide further insights for federations to refine their activities.