2007 Survey of American Jews

Sponsor(s): The Jewish Identity Project of Reboot - Andrea and Charles Bronfman Charities

Principal Investigator(s): Steven M. Cohen, Ari Y. Kelman

Study Dates: December 20, 2006 to January 28, 2007

Key Findings:

Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation From Israel analyzes data from non-Orthodox Jewish respondents to a combined mail and web-based survey, the 2007 Survey of American Jews.

The report summarizes the Cohen-Kelman argument that younger American Jews are less connected to Israel than older American Jews - with the clear conclusion that increasing distance from Israel has begun to move towards alienation.


While the majority of younger Jews remain attached to Israel, the report focuses upon younger, less connected, non-Orthodox, and increasingly intermarried Jews for whom Israel is less salient than it was to prior generations."In sharp contrast to their parents and grandparents, non-Orthodox younger Jews, on the whole, feel much less attached to Israel than their elders."

"Moreover, in the past one could speak of mounting indifference to Israel as the major orientation of the unengaged. In contrast, these days we find instances of genuine alienation as many more Jews, especially young people, profess a near-total absence of any positive feelings toward Israel."

The Cohen-Kelman report created considerable controversy, considerable reaction, and multiple responses which either supported their thesis, criticized it, or which noted that the data cited by critics and supporters was essentially the same data - interpreted differently.


American Jewish adults

Sample Size: Study reports summarize data from 1,704 non-Orthodox Jews who responded to a Synovate, Inc. mail and web-based survey.

Sample Notes:

Data reported in Cohen-Kelman presentations reflect 1,704 non-Orthodox Jewish respondents to the 2007 survey, excluding 124 Orthodox respondents.

Data file variable "Filter $" allows for the inclusion of the 1,704 non-Orthodox and the exclusion of the Orthodox so data users can use the same analytical scheme.


Of the initial 1,828 respondents in the data file, 703 had completed the Internet survey while 1,125 had completed the mail version (overall response rates were 48% Internet and 59% mail).

Of the 1,704 non-Orthodox respondents, 652 completed the Internet survey and 1,052 the mail survey.

Data should be analyzed using the variable "wtboth."

Appendix includes a comparison of the weighted Synovate sample with NJPS (National Jewish Population Survey) data.


Beyond Distancing... includes a discussion of potential/probable sample bias, focusing on the under-representation of 21-24 year old Jews and unmarried Jews - noting that these biases do not at all invalidate their conclusions.

Study Notes: Reports available below include the Cohen-Kelman initial paper, Beyond Distancing... , as well as two briefer articles from the authors ("Distancing is Closer..." and "Thinking About Distancing..." which were published in a special Contemporary Jewry edition which summarized the entire debate.

Also available is a PDF of a Cohen-Kelman PowerPoint summary ("The Uncontestable, Incontrovertible, and Absolutely Convincing Case ..."} presented at a session of the 2008 meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies which focused on the distancing debate.

A few related slide presentations/commentaries are also available below.