Experts Discuss Collection of Jewish Population Data in U.S.
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Experts Discuss Collection of Jewish Population Data in U.S.

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Methods of improving the collection of Jewish population data in the United States and of achieving national and worldwide comparability of statistics were explored at a conference here of population experts and community organizers sponsored by the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, it was announced here today.

The first gathering of this type in more than a decade, the conference held last Wednesday, brought together leading Jewish demographers from the United States and Israel with the cooperation of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The gathering was addressed by Philip Bernstein, executive director of the CJFWF; Dr. Roberto Bachi, director of the Section of Jewish Demography and Statistics of the Hebrew University Institute; Dr. Moshe Davis, head of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry; and Alvin Chenkin, CJFWF Supervisor of Research and Statistics.

While the conference dealt with demographic research in the United States, the experts present hoped that it would lead to standardization of methods for collecting data and for presenting results, so as to make it possible to compare communities with each other not only in the United States but in other countries as well. It was expected also that this initial session would lead to strengthened community planning in the United States, locally and nationally, and to increased cooperation on demographic research throughout the world.


The demographers and federation planning experts agreed that more refined and comparable population data are imperative to enable the Jewish community organizations and their affiliated local, national and overseas social agencies to plan properly in accordance with shifting movements of people and changes in numbers. They noted the increasing number of such studies by federations, among them Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Rochester, and New York.

It was proposed that steps be undertaken to strengthen population studies in individual cities desiring them for their own planning needs; and furthermore that a process of regular population data collection be initiated on the basis of a national sampling plan. In this connection, it was also suggested that a manual on standardized population research procedures be developed and published as soon as possible, as a guide to communities.

The CJFWF was asked also to make possible continuing exchange of experience and analysis of data among demographers and federation planning staffs; scientific evaluation of study methods; to bring together existing studies for greater use of the findings already accumulated by a number of federations; to explore fellowship possibilities for training in population research.

Committees of social scientists and federation leaders are expected to explore further the proposals emanating from the conference, including further definition of the staffing and costs to carry out the national program required. One of the projections is a major conference of population experts and community organizers to consider a series of working papers on local, national, and international studies.

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