Your Daily Phil: How the Pew survey of American Jewry came to be

Good Tuesday morning!

Today, the Pew Research Center will release “Jewish Americans in 2020,” the follow-up to its first-ever comprehensive survey of the American Jewish community, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” released in 2013. Check eJewishPhilanthropy at 12 p.m. ET for a full report.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has hired the law firm Morgan Lewis to investigate reports from community members of past sexual harassment, gender bias and other forms of inequitable treatment.

Morgan Lewis has conducted similar investigations for National Public Radio and the International Women’s Health Coalition. Four Morgan Lewis partners — Jocelyn Cuttino, Sharon Masling, Grace Speights and Martha Stolley — will lead the effort, and report its findings to a special committee of the HUC-JIR board of governors.

An investigation by Manhattan’s Central Synagogue recently found that a senior leader of the Reform movement engaged in “sexually predatory” behavior with at least three women, including one who was a minor, leading to the temporary revocation of his rabbinic privileges.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will award up to $50,000 to each of 18 cities in low and middle-income countries to facilitate vaccine distribution to high-risk populations. The funding will support public information campaigns, the setup of mass vaccination sites and training for healthcare workers.


To better understand the new Pew survey, here’s a refresher on the last one


The Pew Research Center will release its study of American Jewry, “Jewish Americans in 2020,” at noon ET today. To help you understand the new data, here’s some background reading — a refresher from eJewishPhilanthropy on the survey’s 2013 predecessor, “A Portrait of American Jews.”

Why is it that the Pew Research Center, a secular organization, conducts the Jewish community’s biggest population survey?

In 2000, the Federation system’s umbrella organization — called at the time the United Jewish Communities (UJC) — published the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), a $6 million, five-year project. The UJC released initial population figures, then pulled the full report from publication when it discovered that its polling firm had lost some of the data. An independent review conducted by another polling firm concluded that the NJPS questionnaire and design had problems that could not be fully resolved. In 2010, the federations declined to do another survey, and Jane Eisner, then editor-in-chief of the Forward, encouraged Pew to take on the project. 

How was the 2013 survey conducted?

Under the leadership of Alan Cooperman, now director of religion research at the Pew Research Center, a team of researchers interviewed 3,475 Jewish respondents — 2,786 who said they were of Jewish religion, and 689 who said they were Jewish, but not by religion. The interviews were conducted by phone, and in English and Russian. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The 2013 report was funded by the $6 billion Pew Charitable Trusts with additional support from the Neubauer Family Foundation.

How did the 2013 survey define a Jewish person?

Citing the lack of scholarly consensus on who exactly qualifies as Jewish, the survey’s authors said that they took “a broad approach.” Anyone who fit the following categories was eligible to take the survey: people who described themselves as Jewish or partially Jewish by religion or in another way, and people who did not think of themselves as Jewish, but were raised Jewish or partially Jewish or had a Jewish parent.  

Read the full article here.


What the past year has taught us

Courtesy JFNA

“While the overwhelming health impact of COVID-19 has rightfully been the focus of the Jewish communities’ attention over the past year, an equally deserving new trend may be how our world has accelerated innovative change,” writes Irit Gross, associate vice president at the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

New pathways: “Telemedicine, for example, which had previously been inaccessible for most, opened a new frontier for patients and our Jewish service providers within months, and remote learning, despite its challenges, has also sparked new pathways for Jewish education and community building.”

What JFNA did: “It became clear that we needed to deepen the conversation and find a way to pool institutional knowhow in order to build on what we were observing. So, utilizing our FedLab model that was launched in 2019, we convened a one-day set of workshops and inspirational keynote speakers, allowing nearly 1,000 Jewish professionals and volunteers to think broadly as a group and generate just the kind of thinking the Federation system needs.”

Read the full piece here.


Don’t call it hybrid: Multi-access is the future for Jewish communities

Courtesy URJ

“Not surprisingly over the past number of months, the word “hybrid” has become popularized to refer to this new world we have entered,” write Rabbi Esther L. Lederman,  Cantor Rosalie Will and Rabbi Leora Kaye in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

The hybrid problem: “The challenge with the word hybrid is that it is too limited to describe the new possibilities that are emerging in congregational life. When we use the term hybrid, many leaders assume it means worship services that are both online and in person, happening simultaneously, and that is the only option. Because of its binary nature, the word also sets up an unrealistic expectation of ‘getting it right’ — that somehow the perfect formula can be found. This is a very limiting assumption.”

Enter multi-access: “Although multi-access isn’t quite as catchy of a term, it can be helpful in opening up our eyes to what is possible. Multi-access is focused on people, hybrid is focused on technologies. Multi-access allows us to adopt the viewpoint of the people who actually make up our communities.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Cross-Cutting Issue: Two-thirds of children suffering from a mental health disorder in the United States do not receive help, which is one of the statistics that inspired the Morgan Stanley Foundation last February to invest $20 million to create its Alliance for Children’s Mental health, reports Paul Karon in Inside Philanthropy. When the pandemic hit, the crisis worsened, spurring Morgan Stanley to announce an award program for mental health nonprofits working in innovative ways, and to intensify its efforts to encourage other private sector donors to see children’s mental health as an issue that needs to be addressed in other fields, such as education. “You don’t have to change your portfolio to be all mental health funding, but children’s mental health affects all the other things you’re funding,” said Joan Steinberg, president of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and CEO of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s advisory board.[InsidePhilanthropy]

New Rules: Nabeeha Kazi Hutchins, the CEO of a reproductive and sexual health advocacy organization that both gives grants and receives them, shares her gratitude for funders’ flexibility during the pandemic and urges them to maintain that attitude as the world reopens in a blog post on the website of the Center for Effective Philanthropy. That’s what she plans to do, she writes, citing instances of how her group, PAI, provided new, pandemic-related funding as needed in both Mexico and Kenya to fill gaps in health services. “Less restrictive, more flexible funding is the only way to ensure that the organizations that best understand the needs of their communities have the power and the means to drive sustained systems change that will benefit the people they serve,” she concludes. [CEP]

Water Fight: A shareholder spat at Cambrian Innovation, Inc., a high-tech wastewater company whose biggest investor is Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple Inc.’s co-founder, reflects the challenges of impact investing that pursues both profits and social good, reflectsJohn Hechinger in a Bloomberg analysis. At issue is Cambrian’s acquisition of a rival, Baswood, in which Powell Jobs also owned a majority stake, and some Cambrian investors’ allegation that Powell Jobs had a conflict of interest as a result. “The tension around the deal may reflect the challenges of investing in a new industry where the rewards are uncertain and long-term. In the early 2000s venture capitalists bet heavily on wastewater-treatment companies such as Cambrian and Baswood. By 2013 most had lost interest,” Hechinger writes. [Bloomberg]

Different Style: Charities are scrambling to understand a newly powerful female class of billionaire donors that give very differently from their male counterparts, writes Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in the Financial Times. Many female donors eschew the word “philanthropist,” finding it paternalistic and not compatible with their desire to be partners with the groups they support; they also tend to give to causes that men overlook, such as income inequality. “Women give for different reasons. It’s not necessary to have their name on the building,” said Melissa Effron Hayek, who runs a women in philanthropy program at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They want to be engaged and feel the impact of their giving.” [FT]

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Word on the Street

Israeli state prosecutors have filed indictments for bribery, money laundering and breach of trust against Eliezer Sandberg, former chair of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal… Missouri’s state legislature passed a bill on May 7 that would provide vouchers in the form of scholarship dollars for children to attend the school of their choice, including Jewish day schools… The Center for Jewish Ethics, affiliated with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, has awarded the 2021 Whizin Prize to Miriam Attia… About 90 athletes from 21 different types of sports will represent Israel in the Tokyo Olympic Games…

Pic of the Day

Nir Alon/Alamy Live News

As air raid sirens sound in Jerusalem yesterday, a Jerusalemite takes shelter in her secure room.



Israeli actress, she appeared in 30 episodes of “Shtisel” and played the lead role in the Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox,” Shira Haas
Comedian Mort Sahl… Israeli optical and kinetic artist and sculptor, Yaacov Agam… Retired judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, law professor at George Washington University, author of a memoir about his survival in Nazi concentration camps, Thomas Buergenthal… Sociologist and author, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D… Israeli social activist, Iris Stern Levi… Treasurer and Receiver-General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Deborah Goldberg… Past President and then Chairman of AIPAC, Mort Fridman, MD… Copy chief at Random House and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, Benjamin Dreyer… CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, Bill Ackman… Senior fellow and a Middle East analyst at the Hudson Institute, Michael Pregent… Member of the California State Senate, his district includes San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County, Scott Wiener… EVP for North American content at sports streaming service DAZN, Jamie Horowitz… Filmmaker and podcast host, Dan Trachtenberg… Manager of special projects in the Office of the President at Carnegie Mellon University, Pamela Eichenbaum… Senior cost analyst at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Michael Jeremy Alexander… PR and marketing coordinator at Leket Israel, Shira Woolf… Staff writer at Time MagazineOlivia B. Waxman… Associate in paid search at Wavemaker, James Frichner… 
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