Jewish Population Study 2019

In partnership with the Greater Phoenix Jewish Community, Arizona State University is conducting a social survey of the local Jewish community, 17 years after the previous study. The goal of the 2019 study, similar to the study in 2002, is to provide current data to help the Greater Phoenix Jewish Community address the challenges to and opportunities for Jewish life in the Valley of the Sun in the next decade. The outcome will be a report synthesizing the findings of the study to better understand the population as a whole.

Research methods

The 2019 Jewish Communal Study will pursue a multi-mode strategy that will sample from lists provided by multiple community organizations as well as broader sampling methods to capture those with little or no organizational affiliation. Interviewing will occur both on the phone and online. The ASU study team will also use data from other surveys and demographic information to ensure that different segments of the population comprise an accurate share of the study. The questionnaire itself will take about 20 to 25 minutes to complete and will contain a variety of questions on demographic characteristics as well as attitudes, activity, and affiliations. The survey will be in the field in late April and results will be presented to the community in various ways during the summer months.

This approach was used to address several methodological challenges involved with studies of Jewish communities. Some of these are specific to doing research on a statistically small population and some of these are due to general challenges faced by survey researchers as the use of cell phones increase and survey response rates decrease. Different researchers in different communities have used different, or more accurately, competing strategies to measure the number of people who identify as Jews in a particular community and their attitudes on a variety of issues. These strategies include random sample studies conducted by phone, non-probability online panel studies, studies using samples drawn from traditional Jewish names, and studies that have used various community lists. Some strategies are more cost efficient than others, but even resource-intensive studies cannot solve the problem of low incidence, low response rates, and cell phones not tied to a geographic area. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution.

The last study done in the Phoenix area (2002) used a list from the Federation augmented with a more general telephone survey.

Research team

The study is being conducted by a team of ASU researchers and advised by Jewish community leaders. The study lead is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Patrick Kenney and is funded by the ASU’s Office of the Provost. The study is in keeping with ASU’s charter to advance research and help improve the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities ASU serves. Team members include:


Mark Searle

Executive Vice President and University Provost

Searle is executive vice president and university provost at ASU. He holds the rank of professor in the School of Community Resources and Development in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Patrick Kenney

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Kenney is a Foundation Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies and has been on the Arizona State University faculty since 1986. He is an alumnus of the University of Iowa.

Elizabeth Wentz

Dean of Social Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Wentz's research interests include: shape and pattern analysis, geographic information science, applications of GIS to urban environment, urban remote sensing and water resource management.

Kenneth Goldstein

Professor of politics, University of San Francisco

Goldstein is an expert on political campaigns and the impact of political advertising. He is a consultant for the ABC News elections unit and has worked on network election night coverage in every federal election since 1988. He earned his PhD at the University of Michigan.

Frank Jacobson

Volunteer and retired Vice President of Philanthropic Services

Jacobson is the former vice president of philanthropic services at Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Phoenix. Now retired, Jacobson volunteers at his synagogue and serves as the advisory committee chair for the Jewish Population Study.

We acknowledge the individuals below who have agreed to serve on an advisory committee to represent the needs and interests of their respective organizations and the community as a whole.

Michael Blank

Debbie Yunker Kail
Executive Director
Hillel Jewish Student Center ASU

Sheryl Bronkesh
Phoenix Holocaust Association

Rich Kasper
President and CEO
Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix

Rabbi Mari Chernow
Senior Rabbi
Temple Chai

Rick Naimark
Associate Vice President for Program Development Planning

Shelley Cohn
Board Chair
Arizona Community Foundation

Alan Peril
Community Volunteer

Flo Eckstein
Community Volunteer & Retired Publisher, Jewish News of Greater

David Sax
Senior Strategist
DRA Collective

Peter Gordon
Head of School
Pardes Jewish Day School

Dr. Don Schon
Community Volunteer
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix

Marty Haberer
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix

Tina Sheinbein
Executive Director
Jewish Free Loan

Dr. Lorrie Henderson
President and CEO
Jewish Family & Children’s Service

Ira Shulman
Kivel Campus of Care

Rachel Hoffer
Community Volunteer

Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel
Founding Director
Chabad Jewish Student Center at ASU

Jay Jacobs
Valley of the Sun JCC

Linda Zell
Executive Director
Jewish Tuition Organization

Frank Jacobson
Volunteer and retired Vice President of
Philanthropic Services
Jewish Family & Children's Service


Who is part of the study?

There is a limit to who can participate because Jewish-Americans are difficult to accurately sample, and traditional single-lane approaches to sampling the Jewish-American population introduce biases and limitations that result in an incomplete picture of American Jewry. Past efforts to study Jewish-Americans have traditionally employed one of three sampling methods: Jewish Lists: Contacting the names gathered off lists provided by Jewish organizations. These lists have an advantage over other potential sampling methods, because the incidence of people on those lists who identify as Jewish will be substantially higher than any modeled or random sampling method. However, because these lists are not complete, the sample limits the results to the opinions of those Jewish Americans who are members of, donated to, or have participated with, a Jewish organization. Distinctive Jewish Surname: Contacting a list pulled from lists containing only people with Jewish-sounding surnames. This method is more efficient than attempting to reach Jewish Americans through random sampling. However, surname matching also is imperfect. Many Jewish Americans have surnames that are not traditionally Jewish-sounding and many people with Jewish-sounding surnames are not themselves Jewish. Random Sampling: Contacting a list of randomly selected Americans and screening for members of the community. Random sampling smooths out the biasing aspects of the previously two stated sampling approaches. However, it is prohibitively expensive and time consuming to collect the necessary number of responses to build a robust sample of Jewish-Americans by extrapolating from a very small incidence (around two percent of the population). Furthermore, the portababilty of cell phones makes this approach a non-starter in a state like Arizona.

How are you sampling the Jewish-American population in Maricopa County?

To minimize the biasing effects and limitations of each of the above sampling approaches, we will use a mixed sampling method that draws from 23 lists gathered from Jewish organizations across the greater Phoenix area; a random sample of Maricopa County citizens with distinctive Jewish surnames pulled from the voter-file; and a subset of a random voter-file sample of Maricopa County citizens who we will identify as Jewish via the use of a screener administered by phone In each case, the respondent will be given a unique identifier and that respondent will need to pass a screener that requires that the respondent self-identify as Jewish to access the survey. In addition to allowing us to construct a more complete picture of Maricopa County's Jewish community, this mixed method provides us a valuable opportunity to better understand how different sampling methods bias efforts to study Jewish-Arizonans.

When is the survey taking place?

In the week following Passover, our data collection efforts will begin. Mail: All respondents with a valid street address will receive a pre-notification postcard informing them that they can take the survey at a designated webpage. Email: All respondents with a valid email address (including those with a valid street address) will receive an email with a unique direct link to the survey. Phone Follow Up: Any respondent with a valid phone number who received a postcard, and or, email who did not complete the survey will receive a follow-up call reminding them to check their mail or email and of the opportunity to take the survey. Phone Survey: For those respondents who do not complete the survey after a phone follow up, we will attempt to reach them via live-interview to administer the survey. Phone Identification and Recruitment: Respondents drawn from the random voter-file sample of all Maricopa County residents will receive a modified version of the screener we use for the online survey administered by a live interviewer. Those respondents who identify as Jewish in the screen will be requested to provide their contact information so that we can send them an email link to the survey. We will then process and weight the data appropriately to paint a meaningful picture of the Jewish community in greater Phoenix. We will also work with national survey partners to confirm our estimates of the size of the community.

What happens next?

The next step will be the fun part -- sharing and discussing the findings with the community through a variety of forums and publications.


All data collected during this study will be stored privately and securely within Arizona State University's enterprise network. Data will be encrypted and available only to ASU employees directly involved with the study, on an as-needed basis. Access will be controlled via ASU’s ASURITE ID login protocol, with an additional layer of two-factor authentication. For additional information, view ASU's official privacy statement.

Contact and questions

Questions regarding the study can be addressed to Kenneth Goldstein