Intergenerational Study of American Jewish Community Launches Today

Study Probes Attitudes, Activities and Plans …
in a Rapidly Shifting Landscape

by Dr. David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb

A new survey is being launched today by Dr. David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb that explores the attitudes, activities, plans, priorities and beliefs of Jewish adults 18 and over.

The research targets all four adult generational groups (Millennials, Gen X-ers, Boomers and WWII/Greatest) so that program planners, organizational leaders and funders in the Jewish community can make decisions based on timely insights into how people feel about their connections to Jewish life, as well as the emerging similarities and differences among these generational groups.

Our hope is to stimulate new ideas about ways to engage more people more actively in Jewish life. Given the rapid pace of change today, data and insights like these are increasingly important.

We are fielding this survey now because much of the research we observe today is limited by age or geographic region or subject matter, or by a lack of resources. As Gary Rosenblatt wrote in The New York Jewish Week on March 28th:

“… there are only a handful of key researchers in the Jewish community doing studies on population figures, assimilation, religious practice and other key elements of Jewish life, with an eye toward communal planning…(S)ociologists now bemoan the fact that there has been no national Jewish population survey since (2001).”

We hope to help address this situation, even though this survey is not comparable in scope to a national population study. Still, we are pleased to report that ten national organizations and 30 local federations have thus far agreed to participate in the project by forwarding a link to the questionnaire to their members, supporters and constituents. This is the methodology Dr. Elcott used to generate the sample in his successful study of Jewish Baby Boomers and encore careers in 2009.

Our plan is to field this new and broader research survey annually and to make it available free of charge to as many Jewish organizations, leaders, funders and participants as possible.

We welcome responses from any U.S. readers of eJewishPhilanthropy. Just click here to fill out the questionnaire. Please forward the link to friends and colleagues to invite them to participate as well.

We also welcome the involvement of other organizations, federations and networks to broaden the sample even more. You can email us at: to inquire about participating in the project. All you need to do is share the questionnaire link with your constituents or members.

In a time of limited resources and surging information needs, collaboration on research and program design can benefit organizations, funders, professionals and activists across the Jewish landscape – and ignite new thinking, priorities and models of engagement.

Dr. David Elcott is the Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Stuart Himmelfarb is CEO and, with Dr. Elcott, co-founder of B3/The Jewish Boomer Platform, an initiative dedicated to engaging – or re-engaging – Boomers in Jewish life. They can be reached at