Which Jews join Jewish Community Centers in the United States? More specifically, how do they differ from other Jews, both from those who are otherwise affiliated with Jewish communal life by way of congregations and other organizations, and from the even larger number who are totally unaffiliated? This is the central question this memorandum seeks to address. Learning of the sorts of American Jews who are more or less likely to join a JCC provides the requisite grounding for considering the policies and practices affecting membership recruitment. Know who the JCCs currently reach can suggest the sort of constituencies that may be most amenable for further membership recruitment efforts. And, knowing who the JCCs fail to attract can provide clues to the sorts of barriers that inhibit Jews from joining Jewish Community Centers.
This statistical analysis is based upon the recently conducted National Jewish Population Study (NJPS), sponsored by the United Jewish Communities. Fielded in 2000-01, the survey consists of over 4,500 Jewish households across the United States. (Canada is not included, and patterns in Canada may well differ from those found in the United States.) To be clear, these data apply only to Jews (defined very broadly). They do not encompass non-Jews, except for those who may be living in households with an adult Jew.
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Cohen, Steven M. Demographic and Jewish Identity Characteristics of JCC Members: Comparisons with Affiliated and Unaffiliated Jews in the United States. Florence G. Heller-JCC Association (JCCA) Research Center. 18 April 2004: