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New Study Shows Greater Cincinnati's Jewish Community Is Stable

Robert White
Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Suzi Brant with daughter Vallie Freeman and granddaughter Harper, representing three generations of Jewish women in Cincinnati.

A newly released survey of Greater Cincinnati's Jewish community indicates the population is stable. The study, conducted in 2019, provides an update from the last one in 2008.

There are an estimated 32,100 Jewish individuals in Greater Cincinnati, according to the report commissioned by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. That's up 6% from 2008.

Federation CEO Shep Englander says the groups are excited to dig into the findings.

"What are the big takeaways; what are the actionable areas?" he says. "And how do we use everything we've learned here to become even more welcoming and engaging; to get up-to-date to understand how to meet Jewish people and families and households where they are and understand what they're looking for?"

One of the most significant changes, the groups say, is the percentage of Jews - 55% - who have non-Jewish partners. That's higher than the national intermarriage average of 44% and 49% for the Midwest.  Jewish households increased 36% and the number of people living in Jewish households rose roughly 24%. Of the 10,200 children living in Jewish homes, a little over half (5,700) are being raised in the faith.

"This reality poses challenges," the groups write in a release, "including a smaller percentage of children being raised Jewish, as well as opportunities, including an increase in the number and diversity of Cincinnati's Jewish households."

Englander adds, "Many of those households are interested in learning about Jewish tradition and bringing it into their homes but may need different approaches or different kinds of information or opportunities, and we're really going to dig into this study to understand how we can be even better at that."

Reform Judaism makes up the largest denomination percentage at 35%, though 41% of respondents listed themselves as "secular/cultural" or "just Jewish." Cincinnati is considered the birthplace of the Reform faith in North America, with the founding of Hebrew Union College and the leadership of Rabbi Issac Wise during the 19th century. Conservative Jews make up 13% with Orthodox (5%) and "other" (5%) rounding out the numbers.

You can findthe full 134-page report at this link. Englander says several hundred people came out Wednesday night when the report was introduced to the community and he got a sense that people were excited for what comes next.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.