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Berman Foundation issues $1 million challenge grant to renew population survey

(JTA) — The Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation issued a $1million challenge grant toward the costs of conducting a 2013 National Jewish Population Study.

The announcement of the challenge grant to the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner was made Monday in Baltimore at the Jewish Federations of North America annual General Assembly. The matching funds must be raised by Sept. 1 to meet the conditions of the challenge grant.

The research team leading the effort will be headed by Steven M. Cohen, director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, and Jack Ukeles of Ukeles Associates, along with David Dutwin and Melissa Herrmann of Social Science Research Solutions, and Ron Miller of Ukeles Associates. 

Mandell “Bill” Berman, whose foundation issued the challenge grant, will serve as honorary chair of the study.

“In prior years, National Jewish Population Studies have engendered spirited conversation about the Jewish future and provided the stimulus for important changes in Jewish public policy,” Berman said in announcing the challenge grant. “With an increasingly diverse national Jewish community, with new challenges to the Jewish communal system, and with great ambiguity about our effectiveness in many areas of Jewish life, we absolutely need the information, analysis and discourse that only a National Jewish Population Study can provide.”

The study would be the first since 2000-2001, which cost $6 million to complete and was beset with problems, including lost data and inconsistent methodology with the 1990 NJPS, according to scholars. 

In 2011, the Jewish Federations of North America declined to take a lead role in the implementation of a national population survey.

"NJPS was very useful for the Jewish community at large,” JFNA spokesman Joe Berkofsky explained at the time, "but given limited resources we decided to focus on research that would directly benefit federations."

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