URJ Releases Preliminary Findings From 2 Important Surveys Demonstrating Effectiveness Of Work In Priority Areas

Inside Leadership

URJ Releases Preliminary Findings From 2 Important Surveys Demonstrating Effectiveness Of Work In Priority Areas

On Eve of Largest Biennial General Assembly Ever

Press Release
Press Release

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

New York, NY; November 29, 2017 – As a record 6,000 participants from 500 congregations (hailing from 51 states and territories, six Canadian provinces, and 12 other countries) prepare to gather in Boston next week for the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Biennial General Assembly, the URJ today released preliminary findings from two important surveys concerning the effectiveness of its work in priority areas.

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs explained, “Our work raising up the next generation of Jewish leaders in North America and advocating for religious pluralism in Israel are among our very highest priorities, and we are proud to see that these authoritative surveys provide data to support what we have long thought to be true: The URJ’s work in these areas is making a profound difference. Individually, and especially when viewed together, they make a strong, data-driven argument that the Reform Movement is making great progress on priority concerns.”

Significant Progress on Strengthening Reform Judaism in Israel

The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) hired one of Israel’s leading public opinion research firms, the Dialogue Company, including renowned lead researcher Professor Camil Fuchs, to conduct a comprehensive survey on a wide array of questions concerning the status of the Reform Movement and religious pluralism in general.

Among the key preliminary findings:

  • This survey shows the highest rate of self-identification with Reform Judaism ever.
  • More than half (56%) of the secular Israeli public say they have attended a lifecycle ceremony officiated by a Reform or Conservative rabbi, up about 10% from 2010.
  • There is overwhelming support (81%) among the secular public for giving full equality to non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. For the first time, there is wide support (49%) among the traditional public, as well.
  • A vast majority (90%) of all respondents recognized the importance of the relationship with Diaspora Jewry for the State of Israel.

Strong Evidence of the Impact of Reform Movement Youth Programs on Jewish Identify

The URJ retained leading impact evaluation firm Rosov Consulting to examine the effect of participation in summer camp, youth group, and other Reform Movement youth activities on the Jewish identities of the participants.

Among the key preliminary findings:

  • Alumni are far more likely to care about being Jewish than are the general Reform population (as represented by the Pew survey data). Alumni, regardless of whether they come from interfaith families, are more than twice as likely (81% vs. 37%) to say that identifying as Jewish is “very important” to them.
  • Alumni are three times more likely than non-alumni to say that “being part of a Jewish community” is an essential part of being Jewish.
  • Younger alumni (ages 25-39) place a higher value on “choosing and adapting Jewish rituals” than their older peers.
  • Alumni are more likely to marry Jewish, whether or not they themselves were raised in interfaith families.

Miriam T. Chilton, Vice President Youth, URJ, says of the findings, “As the Jewish community is facing challenges to retain active participants, URJ Youth programs prove to be the antidote, providing a future of engaged participants, looking to pass along their Jewish values and education to their children.”

The full findings are expected to be released in early 2018.

The full survey results will confirm the success of the URJ Youth model, which reinforces congregational engagement by connecting local, regional, and national youth programs. Being able to provide complementary and meaningful engagement opportunities across individual communities drives a sense of belonging to greater Jewish community throughout the course of a lifetime.

Rabbi Jacobs added, “The study confirms that our evolving approach to Youth programming is creating committed Jewish adults. By delving deep into this research, we will be able to innovate new opportunities to engage our youth and create a larger generation of adults with strong, positive feelings toward their Judaism, Israel, and creating a just world.”


About the Union for Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

Visit us at www.URJ.org to learn about our social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities, and how you can work with us to create a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Enjoy related content at ReformJudaism.org and connect with URJ on Twitter and Facebook.

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