The National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001 found an overall American Jewish population of 5.2 million, which it contrasted with the 5.5 million population figure found in the last population survey in 1990. The new survey’s appendix cautioned, however, that several methodological decisions could have resulted in an undercount in the new survey, making the two population figures incomparable.
The population was divided into two categories: 4.3 million “strongly connected Jews” and another 900,000 “people of Jewish background” — persons who were born Jewish and are not practicing a different religion but do not affirm their Jewish identity.
• Within the “strongly connected” population of 4.3 million, 79% of children ages 6 to17 have received some Jewish schooling and 41% of college students report that they have taken a Jewish studies class.
• Day school enrollment is also rising with 29% of youth ages 6 to 17 in the “strongly connected” segment saying they have attended day schools or yeshivas and 23% of those ages 18 to 34 saying they have attended such schools. Percentages for the overall Jewish population could not be determined.
• An estimated 353,000 people, including 272,000 adults and 81,000 children, live in households with incomes below the poverty line.
• Jews live in 2.9 million households, with a total of 6.7 million people. Thus, two out of every nine people living in households with Jews in them are non-Jews.
• The median Jewish age is 42, compared to 35 for Americans generally, and the birthrate was 1.86 children per woman, slightly below the 1.93 rate for American women generally.
• There was a drop in the population of Jewish children, especially in the 0 to 4 age bracket, and though the initial report did not contain the exact figure, it said 20% of the overall Jewish population is composed of children, down by one percentage point from a decade ago.
• According to the study, 33% of interfaith couples report they are “raising their children Jewish,” compared to 96% of Jewish couples who do.
With Reporting by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency