2013-09-04 / Home

Help shape South Jersey’s Jewish future; answer the ‘JEWISH POP’ call


The bright pop-art posters and splashy social-media messages have done their job; South Jersey is buzzing about “MY JEWISH POP.”

And now, after months of built-up suspense, residents will finally have their say in shaping the future of the Jewish community for years to come.

“MY JEWISH POP,” a research study of the tri-county Jewish population, will begin after Rosh Hashanah. The way to be counted is easy; answer the phone when “JEWISH POP” representatives call seeking confidential information related to social services, family make up, Israel, Jewish education and experiences. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

“The JEWISH POP study is important for our tri-county Jewish community for many reasons,” explained Betty Adler, Jewish Federation president. “One of the most significant reasons is that it will give us data— rather than anecdotal information— on which to base decisions as to what and where new services and programs are needed, even what may not be needed.”

The phone calls will start Sept. 9. Surveys can also be answered online. Soon after the data is compiled, the number crunching begins.

With Federation taking the lead role, highlights will be announced at its Annual Meeting on Sunday, Oct. 13. The comprehensive findings— which will be of interest to every synagogue, Jewish agency and even businesses catering to Jewish populations— will be available online by late fall. The data will be scrutinized to identify trends and analyze needs. It will be widely shared with all stakeholders, according to Adler.

“This is a population study and needs assessment that will not ‘sit on the shelf,’” she said. “The information will be made available not just within the Jewish Federation and our agencies, but also to our synagogues, day schools and other organizations in the community so that they too may plan based on the data. It will also be the platform on which our Federation strategic planning will be based this coming winter.”

MY JEWISH POP will likely give a very different picture from what was gleaned from the last survey, conducted 22 years ago, said Michele Ettinger, chair of the initiative that is officially called the “Community Needs and Population Study.”

“This discovery process and what we learn is going to be very exciting,” Ettinger said. “It’s a very different time than 1991, the last time we did this study. Think about your phone and your computer and what they looked like. Jewish dynamics have changed incredibly too. Family compositions, where people live and what’s important to them are all different.”

Ronit Boyd, Federation planning director, said she looks to the study to confirm some major trends that have already been emerging but have not been formally studied, such as strong growth in Gloucester and Burlington counties as well as the graying of the Jewish population in general. She and other professional and lay Jewish leaders suspect the report will also help to identify unrealized community needs, including how better to engage teenagers and the growing unaffiliated population.

While planning has been in the works for well over a year, the success of MY JEWISH POP hinges upon reaching as many people as possible, Adler said. “It is vital that our Jewish community answer the call, participate in the survey online or call in if they aren’t called,” she said. “By getting a wide sampling of responses, we will indeed learn the most about what our community looks like and needs now and over the next several years.” .

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