New Study Finds 6.8 Million Jews Living in U.S.

Research Notes Large Increase in Numbers From 2001 Survey

By JTA

Published September 30, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An estimated 6.8 million Jews live in the United States, with 65 percent of them concentrated in six states, according to a new study.

The estimate counts 4.2 million American adults who self-identify as Jews; 1 million Americans who identify as having a Jewish background but do not identify as Jewish by religion; and approximately 1.6 million Jewish children.

The new population estimates are not based on a new survey. Rather they were synthesized from the data of nearly 350 recent surveys of the U.S. adult population, with more than 320,000 respondents and 6,900 Jewish respondents.

Titled “American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012,” the study was conducted by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

The study finds far more than the 5.2 million American Jews counted in the last national study, the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey. But because the methodology used was completely different, the newer numbers do not demonstrate an increase in the U.S. Jewish population.

Leonard Saxe of Brandeis, one of the researchers who conducted the study, told JTA there is evidence to show the U.S. Jewish population has grown, though not by the percentage increase between his study and the NJPS. Saxe attributed the growth to the immigration of Russian-speaking Jews, programs to bolster Jewish identity and the shifts in attitude that has enabled many children of interfaith marriages to be raised with a Jewish identity.

“There’s unquestionably been an increase; it’s not a 35 percent increase, however,” Saxe said. “And it’s not quite kept pace with the increase in the overall U.S. population.”

About 65 percent of American Jews live in just six states, according to the study’s estimates: New York (20 percent), California (14 percent), Florida (12 percent), New Jersey (8 percent), Massachusetts (5 percent) and Pennsylvania (5 percent). The other four states in the top 10 – Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Ohio – add another 15 percent. The three most Jewish metropolitan areas are New York, South Florida and Los Angeles.

The new methodology was able to produce “highly reliable estimates,” the study’s authors — Saxe, Elizabeth Tighe, Raquel Magidin de Kramer and Daniel Parmer — said in the study.

“What seemed infeasible in the past is feasible today, and is manifest in increased interest in mining ‘big data,’” they said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.