Jewish Federation of St. Louis today released the results of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study, the first study of Jewish St. Louis in 20 years. The study, conducted by the JPAR-Jewish Policy & Action Research group, presents a snapshot of our community today and opportunities for growth in the future.
Over a three month period in 2014, JPAR called over 1,000 Jewish individuals and asked them about their engagement with Jewish life, what is important to them, their needs and points of access they have into the Jewish community.
“For those of us who will be building the St. Louis community over the next 20 years, we need to know who we are today,” explained Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., President and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis. “We need to know not only about those of us who are actively engaged in Jewish life, but also about those who choose not to be engaged. The Community Study helps us discover who we are, where we are and how connected are we with our Jewishness.”
Overall, the study shows that St. Louis’ Jewish community is stable, with a wide range of Jewish engagement. However, over the past 20 years, much has changed with Jews and their interaction with Judaism in St. Louis. The study tells stories of declining rates of participation in Jewish life by a growing minority, especially among younger adults, partly Jewish individuals and those living outside the traditional “Jewish corridor”.
“What surprised us most about the results are the commonly accepted views about our community that are not accurate,” Rehfeld continued. “Those are beliefs about affluence, where we live, our needs, even down to the size of our population.”
How many are we?
- There are an estimated 61,000 Jewish persons in St. Louis, an increase of 14% from 1995.
- There are an additional 28,000 non-Jewish persons living in households with at least one Jewish adult.
- Those people are living in an estimated 32,900 Jewish households*, an increase of 34%.
- Intermarriage has increased, driving the number of people living in Jewish households up by 50%.
- In 1995, one out of every 10 people in Jewish households was not Jewish; today, owing to intermarriage, it is one out of three.
- Of the 89,300 people in Jewish households, 11% consider themselves “partly Jewish” and 31% are not Jewish.
Where do we live?
- The adult Jewish community is stable, with few planning to leave the area, and 11% have moved to the area in the past 10 years.
- The proportion of Jewish households in the St. Louis region is highest in Olivette/Ladue (28%) and lowest in North and South St. Louis County (1%).
- Creve Coeur, Chesterfield, Olivette/Ladue and University City/Clayton have the most Jewish persons, with 67% of the Jewish population living in these four areas.
Who are we?
- 71% percent of Jews under age 65 in St. Louis are employed and 70% have earned a college degree. Just over half were born in the St. Louis area.
- 13% of Jewish households are multi-racial, Hispanic or non-white. 4% are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
- Almost half – 48% – of married Jewish couples in St. Louis are intermarried. That rate has increased from 25% in 1995.
- An estimated 7,500 children in St. Louis live in intermarried households.
- 52% percent of children in all Jewish households are being raised Jewish, 10% are being raised partly Jewish and 14% are undecided. 13% of these children are being raised in another religion.
- There is significant economic vulnerability within the St. Louis Jewish community. 24% of households say they “cannot make ends meet” or are “just managing” financially. 8% of St. Louis Jewish households are poor (under 150% of Federal poverty level, or $35,800 annual income for family of four).
- St. Louis Jews are philanthropic. 91% give to charitable causes and 80% have volunteered in the past year.
How engaged are we in Jewish life?
- There is a geographic divide between more and less engaged Jewish households.
- 60% of Jewish households are in areas where Jewish residential density and connection to Jewish life is high: Creve Coeur, Chesterfield, University City/Clayton, and Olivette/Ladue.
- 40% of Jewish households are in areas with fewer Jewish households, high intermarriage and low affiliation with Jewish life: St. Charles County, St. Louis City, Des Peres/Kirkwood/Webster Groves, North St. Louis County and South St. Louis County.
- We practice Jewish rituals less today than in 1995.
The results of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study are based on a state-of-the-art sampling method. A detailed methodology report is available online at JFedSTL.org/Countmein
*A Jewish household is defined as a household with at least one Jewish adult living in it.