2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study Overview

We began this year of so much change with an important project: the 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study. This study was commissioned by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to provide a fresh portrait of our local Jewish community.

A diverse group of volunteer and professional leaders who served on the Community Study Advisory Committee helped select the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) at Brandeis University to conduct the 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study. The Cohen Center is a renowned research institute that has worked with more than a dozen Jewish communities to develop studies like ours, using its cutting-edge methodology illustrate the characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors unique to Jewish Cincinnati.

Since the rollout of the study earlier this year, the Foundation, in coordination with Federation, has engaged in further analysis of and reflection about the results. The data indicate that many people in our community seek greater connection to Jewish life and practice. We also know that people experience different barriers to connection. While these trends are relevant to the entire community, they play out in meaningful ways with particular populations, including interfaith families with children, families with young children ages 0-5 and young adults without children.

Our work is now focused on gathering more information through qualitative research. The goal is to develop an unvarnished diagnostic of what these population segments are experiencing in their lives holistically—where they find meaning and challenge—and overlay this with how they view the Jewish community and opportunities and barriers to connection. This research is part of a broader learning agenda that over time, will include more diversity in age and life stage. Our learning will build on the work of the Federation’s Beyond 2020 focus groups which previously engaged many of these segments.

The Foundation seeks to leverage this information and use it to inform its development as a strategic funder. This includes defining its goals and outcomes and pursuing new funding opportunities inspired by the learnings from this fresh research. At the same time, the Foundation remains committed to core communal institutions and the individuals who frequent them, and will apply a strategic lens to this work, as well. Taken together, with the new initiatives in tandem with the current grant portfolio, the Foundation intends with respect to these new areas of learning and investment, the Foundation will be guided by the following focus areas:

  1. Create a broader connection to the Jewish Community for individuals with diverse expressions of Jewish life and practice.

  2. Create an expanded delivery system of services that is relevant to the plurality of the Cincinnati Jewish community; this will involve thinking creatively about the delivery mechanisms that currently exist along with those that can be newly designed or reimagined.

  3. Act where significant investment of capital makes a difference. The Foundation is in a unique position to allocate time and distance to think strategically, long term and holistically and commit financial resources to make scale-level investments intended to bring about extraordinary impact – and evolution when needed.

We look forward to continuing to discuss the Community Study with you. A high-level overview of the basic findings in the study can be found on the next page.

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