Study: Jewish population of St. Louis rose by 14 percent in last two decades


(JTA) — The Jewish population of St. Louis increased 14 percent, to 61,000, in the last 20 years, according to a new study.

The results of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study, the first study of Jewish St. Louis in 20 years, were released last month.

The study found that the number of Jewish households — defined as a household with at least one Jew living in it — has increased by 34 percent, to about 32,900. Of the 89,300 people living in Jewish households, 11 percent consider themselves “partly Jewish” and 31 percent are not Jewish, according to the survey.

In 1995, one out of every 10 people in Jewish households was not Jewish. Today that number is one in three, according to the survey.

Some 48 percent of married couples in St. Louis Jewish households are intermarried, while 63 percent of couples married after 2000 have intermarried.

About 47 percent of Jewish respondents identified themselves as Reform, 20 percent as Conservative, 5 percent as Orthodox and 21 percent as “just Jewish.”

The telephone survey of 1,003 respondents in Jewish households was conducted between April 2014 and June 2014 by Jewish Policy & Action Research, an independent agency that is a strategic alliance between Ukeles Associates and Social Science Research Solutions. JPAR’s researchers have conducted 20 studies of Jewish communities in the United States. The team includes Steven M. Cohen, Jacob Ukeles, Ron Miller, Susan Sherr and David Dutwin.

The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Some 19 percent of the people living in Jewish households are 17 or younger, and 18 percent are 65 or older, according to the study, which also found that 29 percent of households have at least one child living at home. In addition, some 55 percent of respondents were born in the St. Louis area.

Only 5 percent of respondents plan to move from St. Louis in the next two years, with the number increasing to 13 percent for those under age 35.

Some 46 percent of respondents are members of synagogues, down from 56 percent in 1995; 26 percent are members of the JCC, up from 24 percent 20 years ago; and 13 percent keep kosher, up from 9 percent. Those who always or usually light Sabbath candles dropped to 17 percent from 24 percent, and seder participation fell to 60 percent from 77 percent.

Cohen told the St. Louis Jewish Light that the results are similar to surveys in population studies in other Midwestern cities.

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