2008 Middlesex Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County (NJ)

Principal Investigator(s): Ira M. Sheskin

Study Dates: June 2008

Population Estimates: 52,000 Jewish persons live in 24,000 Jewish households in Middlesex. An additional 4,600 non-Jewish persons also reside in these Jewish households.
Key Findings:
  • 9% of all households in Middlesex are Jewish; 7% of all people living in Middlesex County are Jewish.
  • Middlesex has the third largest Jewish population in New Jersey.

  • 16% of adults in Jewish households were born in the local Middlesex community; 10% are foreign-born.

  • Median age is 55; 18% of all people in Jewish households are children under 18, while 36% are 65 or over (23% at least age 75).

  • 84% of children are being raised as Jews.

  • Only 14% of all married couples are intermarried (84% inmarried, 2% conversionary); 33% of children in intermarried households are being raised as Jews.

  • 7% of Jewish respondents identify as Orthodox, 35% Conservative, 29% Reform, 29% Just Jewish.

  • 44% of Jewish households report current synagogue membership in the telephone survey; another 14% are members of either the JCC (atypically: only 1%) or another Jewish organization (13%).

  • 54% of Jewish households contain a member who has visited Israel; 27% of Jewish respondents are extremely emotionally attached to Israel; 31% very attached.

  • 8% of Jewish respondents report personally experiencing anti-Semitism in Middlesex in the year proceeding the survey; 13% of households with children report a school-related anti-Semitic episode related to a child ages 6-17.

  • 44% of households report that they donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County (JFGMC) in the past year.

Sample: Households with a Jewish adult in Middlesex County were the sampling target. Report analyzes and presents data for the entire county, as well as dividing the area into four geographic regions: North, Highland Park-South Edison, Central and South.

The J

Sample Size: 1,076 completed Jewish household interviews - - 469 RDD (random digit dialed) and 607 from DJNs - distinctive Jewish names - from local telephone directories.

Sample Notes: Over 27,000 different telephone numbers were dialed in the 2008 RDD frame.

The interview data have been weighted so that the DJN interviews were adjusted statistically to resemble the RDD interviews. "The RDD sample was compared to the DJN sample on a number of key variables. It was found (using chi-square tests) that these two samples did differ significantly on geographic area and length of residence. In addition, due to small differences, weighting factors also were applied for age of the head of the household, synagogue membership, type of marriage, and household income to make the DJN sample somewhat more like the RDD sample."

Data File weights include "wf" and "wfhh" - "wf" adjusts total of 1076 interviews to 1033 by weighting the RDD interviews based on number of telephone numbers in the household. "Wfhh" extrapolates to number of jewish households (24,000) - 59% of weighted interviews from the DJN interviews, 41% from RDD dialing.

Study Notes:

In addition to the 2008 survey-based data for Middlesex County, an estimated 1,450 Jewish households live in zip code 08873 (Somerset), which is part of the Federation's service area, but not in Middlesex County. Estimates for Somerset 2008 are based only on an analysis of DJNs (distinctive Jewish surnames) in telephone directories, not on RDD telephone interviews.

Please note that there is also a 1991 Jewish Population Study of Middlesex County available at the Data Bank.

  • In 1991, the study area included Somerset and estimated that 62,900 Jews lived in the Middlesex Federation area. In comparison, in 2008, 55,500 Jews were estimated to live in the corresponding areas: 52,000 RDD-based in Middlesex County, plus the 3,500 DJN-based estimate for Somerset.
  • The 1991 study apparently used a variant of RDD (random digit dialing) telephone calling for the Jewish population estimates; methodological details are sketchy.

  • The 1991 report is somewhat useful for an estimate of the number of Jews, but less useful for an analysis of the characteristics of Jews and Jewish households, since the 1991 report combined the interviews from the RDD and the non-RDD frames without weighting when describing characteristics of the Jewish community, thereby (as the author noted in 1991) slightly overstating the Jewish connections of the Middlesex Jewish community.