As Rabbi Weissman discussed in her April Clergy Column Shining a Light on the Bay Area's Jewish Community, the Jewish Community Federation recently released its comprehensive survey of Bay Area Jewish Life. This fascinating study provides insight into the strengths and challenges we face, and highlights interesting similarities and differences with the national survey of American Jews and Judaism conducted by the Pew Research Center a few years ago. Some highlights include these findings:
- The Bay Area contains the 4th largest concentration of Jewish people in the U.S.
- The Bay Area Jewish population is diverse, very mobile within the region, and highly educated
- Young adults and Boomers are the largest age cohorts among adults in Jewish households
- Pockets of poverty, need, and economic vulnerability exist in the midst of affluence
- A relatively small, highly engaged affiliated population is offset by a much larger, substantially less engaged unaffiliated population.
We need to understand these realities and trends because they affect our congregation and because, as a leading Jewish institution in the Bay Area, we will have a hand in determining how they are addressed. A group of congregants joined in an effort known as Project Micah to do just this after publication of the Pew Study. The new JCF study affords us an opportunity to re-visit and update the Project Micah findings and to strengthen our efforts to attract and retain young members and families and grow engagement across all of Beth Am. Continued innovation is key to the long-term vitality of our congregation.