Jew of Color under counted in census

What demographic selection of the American Jewish community has more members: Jews of color or even the Orthodox?

Jews of color are actually round the same size — 12-15% of American Jews, or about 1 million people — according to new research published last week. The research focused on fixing the prevalent false impression that American Jews are almost entirely white-skinned.

The analysis demonstrates so just how mediocre a task most demographers of American Jews have done in researching non-white Jews, tossing something of a wrench into the field of Jewish population research studies while the corporations that mentor them. Its generating estimation of how many American Jews of color have far-reaching effects for Jewish organizations organizing their funding, their programming, and just how they educate Jewish leaders.

Until this study, estimates for the number of Jews of color when you look at the U.S. varied widely. By the Pew Research Center’s 2013 “Portrait of American Jews,” 7% of Jews described themselves as black, Hispanic or of an unusual racial background. Be’ chol Lashon, a group that promotes racial and ethnic diversity in Judaism, place the number at a fifth regarding the broader population in 2002. Researcher defined “racially and ethnically diverse” Jews as to any or all Jews not of Western or Eastern European heritage, including Sephardic and Mazrahi Jews with roots in Southern Europe, North Africa or even the Middle East.

The new report — funded with a $35,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation — lays out how others try to measure Jews of color both nationally and also by the town were flawed. Its double-entendre would title “Counting Inconsistencies.” You can browse the executive summary here.

Some surveys, like Boston’s 2015 community study, did not ask about race after all. Others (e.g., Philadelphia 2009, Seattle 2014) found their sampling population by contacting people with Jewish-sounding names — something a Jew of color may not have — or limited respondents to people already from the donor and membership lists of established synagogues and Jewish community centers.

Even though they did inquire about race, the surveys did so in ways that suggest they did not have current definitions by what constituted a racial identity, an ethnic identity or only a category of Jewish heritage. For example, some surveys asked about “ethnicity,” while others asked about “Jewish ethnicity.” For a concern about personal identity, Miami’s 2015 study limited respondents to “a) Sephardic Jew, b) A Hispanic Jew or c) What country can be your family from?”

“Ultimately the takeaway regarding the report is the fact that we have been asking these questions very poorly and extremely inconsistently,” said Ari Kelman, a professor of religion at Stanford University, therefore, the study’s lead author. There is way more consistency, Kelman noted, in questions regarding denominational identity: Are you Conservative? Will you be Orthodox?

The first intention regarding the report, Kelman said, would be to take data from 25 Jewish population studies and produce a complete database of demographic information about Jews of color. However, considering that the studies were so inconsistent, their results could never be combined into a single source of information.

“When we set about analyzing that Ilana [Kaufman] wished to do, it became clear that it was impossible,” Kelman said.

The resulting numbers that came out of this study, then, are a rough approximation — not the gold standard for accurate demographic studies. However, Kelman stands by the report’s full results, such as that roughly one out of five Jewish homes has a non-white or multiracial member, and that the proportion of non-white Jews will continue to increase into the 21st century.

For many people who work in organizations that support Jews of color, this type of study was long overdue.

“Most, or even all, of these surveys that float around, they’re by people who aren’t us, and don’t necessarily have the lenses, the set of skills that some people have as Jewish diversity professionals to see in the middle the lines,” said Jared Jackson, the executive director of Jews in most Hues, a non-for-profit in Philadelphia that promotes diversity consciousness within the Jewish world.

Jackson noted this one particularly favorable outcome using this report could be so it would lend credence to calls from Jews of color for racial sensitivity and training as synagogues around the country beef up their security. Synagogue members and security personnel have profiled many Jews of color — Jackson said he hopes that, if people understand that 1 million Jews are not white, they might be less likely to want to pull aside a non-white person in the shul lobby on Shabbat.

The report also shows that, into the 21st century, the American Jewish community should come closer to mirroring the racial and ethnic diversity of the country at large, Kaufman said.

That is a lovely thing that our community has all of this diversity, and certainly will continue steadily to grow.

Prepared, in this case, Kaufman said, means updating curricula in Jewish schools and seminaries, increasing diversity training at synagogues and directing funding to programs that help Jews of color feel visible and respected in the broader Jewish community — something which is certainly not always a given.

Diane Tobin, the founder, and director of Be’ chol Lashon said that she welcomed the report, but added that readers should keep in your mind “the caveat that race is a social construct with ever-shifting boundaries.” Even 70 years back, she noted, white-skinned Jews were not yet considered white.

Counting Jews remains a complex and contentious issue, not only for Jews of color however for all Jews.

There is still much to be discovered about American Jews of color. How many have been profiled in a Jewish setting? Exactly how many have moved away from Jewish observance, and how many towards it? How many will say they “pass” as white? What several Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews consider themselves white, and just how many usually do not? Do they believe about Israel differently than white-skinned Jews? How many identify as “culturally” Jewish, and just how many have a belief in God?

Jews likewise require to focus on something Jews of color have now been saying for a long time: that their racial and ethnic identities are not any less important to them than their Jewish identities, and really should be treated as a result. She acknowledged that that might be an arduous pill to swallow for many white Jews since many were raised being defined solely by their religion.

Jews used to be isolated, and then we have successfully incorporated into a free of charge market society of choice around identity.

Reference
Cannes Lions: Lena Waithe Says Diversity Is About More …. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cannes-lions-lena-waithe-says-diversity-is-more-just-screen-time-1122225

Jews Of Color Have Been Consistently – forward.com. https://forward.com/news/national/425129/jews-of-color-survey-jewish-population/

The University Of Kansas Health System – Sports Medicine …. https://www.kansashealthsystem.com/care/centers/sports-medicine-performance-center/resources


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