Jewish Life in DC: A New Community Study

The Steinhardt Social Research Institute (Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University) has released 2017 Greater Washington Jewish Community Study.

The Study provides an up-to-date description of the size and character of DC-area Jewish adults, children, and households. Interviews with over 6,600 Jewish households residing in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Suburban Maryland form the basis of the report.

Among the findings:

  • Greater Washington, DC’s Jewish community numbers nearly 300,000 Jewish adults and children in over 155,000 households.
  • Metro DC’s Jews are younger than the national Jewish population. Compared to the national Jewish population, the Washington-area Jewish community has proportionally more adults ages 30-39 and fewer who are ages 40-64.
  • The community is diverse. Seven percent of of adults identify as LGBTQ, and 7% as a person of color or Hispanic/Latino. Among households with married or partnered Jews, 53% of couples include someone who does not identify as Jewish.
  • A greater share of Metro DC’s Jews are Democrats compared to Jews nationally. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Metro DC’s Jews identify as Democrats, 6% as Republicans, 15% as independents, and 8% other.
  • The District of Columbia is home to 19% of area Jews, Suburban Maryland is home to 39% of area Jews, and Northern Virginia is home to 41% of area Jews.
  • Despite the perception of DC as a “transient community,” 94% of Jews consider the Metro DC area to be their “home base.”
  • Overall, 85% of children in Jewish households are being raised Jewish in some way. Forty percent of Jewish children in grades K-12 are enrolled in Jewish part-time school or Jewish day school.
  • Metro DC Jews are less likely than US Jews overall to identify with a specific denomination. Over one-third (39%) of Metro DC Jews indicate that they have no denomination, compared to 30% of all US Jews. Twenty-six percent of households belong to a synagogue or another Jewish worship community of some type.
  • Approximately two-thirds (68%) of Washington-area Jews have been to Israel or have lived there. One-third (34%) of Washington-area Jews feel very connected to Israel.
  • Jewish community ties are not central to Washington-area Jews. Just over one-quarter (28%) feel that being part of a community is an essential part of being Jewish. One-third (33%) feel very connected to the global Jewish community and 15% feel very connected to the local Jewish community. However, 60% say at least half of their closest friends are Jewish.
  • Forty-one percent of Jewish adults did some volunteer activity in the past month, either with Jewish or non-Jewish organizations.
  • For volunteering and charitable donations, the most popular cause among Metro DC’s Jews is education.
  • Eighty-seven percent of Jewish adults made a charitable contribution in the past year.
  • The majority of DC-area Jewish households are financially comfortable, with 45% describing their standard of living as being prosperous or very comfortable, and another 44% reporting they are reasonably comfortable. Economic insecurity may be a concern for some Jewish households. Thirteen percent of Jewish households do not have enough savings to cover three months of expenses.
  • An estimated 18% of Jewish households include someone with a health limitation.

The complete report is available for download.