How many Jews live in Metro Detroit? At last count, according to the 2010 Update to the Detroit Area Jewish Population Study of 2005, that number is 67,000.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit hypothesizes that a lot has changed since 2010. That’s why it has commissioned another population study, funded by private donors and foundations for $300,000, that will launch Jan. 14. Its purpose is to gather current information and insights into the demographics and social characteristics of the community.

Scott Kaufman

“Accurate and timely data drive smart decisions,” says Federation CEO Scott Kaufman. “Much has changed in Detroit in the 13 years since the last comprehensive Jewish Population Study, and it’s time we put some of our assumptions to the test.”

Some of the questions to be answered: Who are we? Where do we live? What are the strengths and challenges of our Jewish community? Have our numbers — or neighborhoods — changed and, if so, how?

“What trends have arisen with the growth and focus of Federation’s new affinity groups like NEXTGen?” Kaufman continues. “What community services are we using and what services are we missing? To what degree have changes in our population contributed to enrollment in Jewish day schools and religious schools?

“At the other end of the spectrum, given what we know from past studies showing that Detroit tops the charts in the nation’s aging Jewish communities outside the Sunbelt, how do we provide for the growing needs of older adults as they age?”

Answering the Call
When “Count Me Detroit” appears on your caller ID or the number (248-710-0524) appears on your cell phone, Federation asks you to please answer the call. The Population Study survey will begin the week of Jan. 14, and calls will continue for 6-8 weeks or until at least 1,200 surveys are completed. The calls will come from SSRS, an independent  research company. Interviews will be conducted with adults who consider themselves Jewish and are by random digit dialing. Calls average 15-20 minutes.

The survey will be conducted with adults who consider themselves Jewish and is by random digit dialing. The study will be conducted by professional interviewers from an independent company with the goal of completing 1,200 surveys from households randomly selected in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties. Interviewers will not know, and will not ask for, names and addresses of respondents. There will be no solicitation of funds. Not everyone in the community will be called.

Federation has enlisted the services of Ira M. Sheskin, the principal investigator of the 2005 Detroit Jewish Population Study and its 2010 update. Sheskin has authored more than 50 studies of Jewish communities across the United States. He is the editor and a contributing author of The American Jewish Year Book and much of his work can be found at jewishdatabank.org.

Home-based at the University of Miami, Sheskin is director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and professor and chair of the Department of Geography.

In addition to collecting demographic and socio-economic data, the study will ask questions about Jewish identity and engagement as well as attitudes and needs of the Jewish population as a whole and of select subpopulations, including foreign-born Jews, Holocaust survivors, intermarried families and young adults.

Linda Blumberg

“This study in being conducted to provide critical information concerning who we are, where we are, what we are thinking and where we are headed,” says Linda Blumberg, director of Planning and Agency Relations at Federation. “It will identify the crucial needs in our community and help us create a roadmap for all Jewish communal organizations and foundations to address, plan for and serve Jewish needs and interests for years to come.”

Results of the study are expected this summer and will be shared with the community, according to Federation officials.

Vivian Henoch Special to the Jewish News