Getting down to the nitty-gritty as population study 2000 shapes up

NEW YORK, April 26 (JTA) — Just how does one go about taking the pulse of the American Jewish community? Organizers of the National Jewish Population Study 2000 are intensely involved in putting the pieces together as they seek to update the findings of a similar study from 1990 and also explore new areas. With an estimated budget of $3.6 million, demographer Jim Schwartz is heading the effort for the Council of Jewish Federations. He and several committees are in the process of figuring out the questions to be asked, the people to be involved and what to do with the data once it is collected. One of the goals is to raise the size of the sample — from the 2,414 respondents in 1990 to 5,000 completed interviews this time around — to get as accurate a portrait of U.S. Jews as possible. Just which Jews around the country will be selected to be involved will be determined as part of a scientifically selected sampling. Initial research for the new study will be conducted as part of what is known as an omnibus shared-cost survey run by a large market research firm. That means that Americans reached through random-digit dialing who are answering questions on everything from the type of dog food they buy to the kind of car they drive will also be asked: “Are you Jewish?” and “Was anyone in your household born Jewish?” Those who answer yes to either question will be contacted again by professional interviewers, who will screen them between April 1, 1999, and April 1, 2000, according to CJF’s schedule. Respondents who pass that level of questioning will be contacted again, for the real interview itself, which will likely take 20 to 25 minutes, and is slated to happen between April 1 and July 1, 2000. That interview will plumb a range of aspects of the respondents’ Jewish identity with questions that are still under discussion. But they are sure to include an assessment of whether they are Jewish by birth or conversion, single or married, married to a Jew or a non-Jew and in what faith, if any, their children are being raised. Once the information is gathered, it is scheduled to be tabulated between July 1 and Oct. 1, 2000. A highlight report is slated to be written between October 2000 and March 2001, and issued on April 1, 2001. The CJF is planning an academic conference on the survey for Oct. 1, 2001, and is scheduling the publication of monographs and scholarly analyses of the data through January 2003.

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