2014 Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

Principal Investigator(s): Matthew Boxer, Janet Krasner Aronson, Matthew A. Brown, Leonard Saxe

Study Dates: May 2014 through August 2014

Population Estimates:

The estimated number of Jewish persons in the Greater Seattle study area is 63,400, who live in 33,700 Jewish households (defined as households with at least one self-identified Jewish adult). The study estimates a 70% increase in the number of Jewish persons in the study area since the last study in 2001.

Five counties are included as the Study area -  King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, and Island Counties. Geographically, King County has the highest proportion of Jewish persons compared to the total population:

•  2.5% of King County’s population is Jewish; the combined population of Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, and Island Counties is 0.5% Jewish.

Non-Jews in Seattle Jewish households: a total non-Jewish population of approximately 22,200 reside in these Jewish households.  Of these, 4,000 are children not being raised as Jewish, 15,400 are non-Jewish adults without any Jewish background, and 2,800 are currently non-Jewish adults with some Jewish background.

Thus, the total number of people – Jewish and non-Jewish – living in 33,700 Jewish households is 85,600.

Key Findings:

The 2014 Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study was conducted for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, both at Brandeis University.  The study covered five counties within the Greater Seattle area: King, Kirtsap, Island, Pierce and Snohomish Counties (the geographic area identified by the Jewish Federation as the key counties to be included, which are not identical to the census-defined metropolitan statistical areas that include Seattle). In the survey questionnaire, the area is referred to as the Puget Sound region.

Among the major findings of the 2014 survey:


• The Greater Seattle Jewish community is composed of 63,400 Jewish individuals who live in 33,700 households.

• Thirty percent of households include children.

• Sixteen percent of households include only those aged 65 and older.

• The 2014 Jewish population is 70% larger than the 2000-2001 estimate of 37,180 Jewish individuals. Much of the growth has come from newcomers to the community.

Jewish Identity

•  Two-thirds (68%) of Greater Seattle Jewish adults identify as Jewish by religion (JBR) with the remaining 32% identifying as Jewish by means other than religion, such as a cultural or ethnic identity (also called Jews of no religion, or JNR). This is a higher proportion of JNRs than the national average.

•  The largest denomination among Seattle Jews is Reform (28%), followed by Conservative (14%) and Orthodox (7%); 41% of Jewish adults do not affiliate with a specific denomination.

Jewish Connections

• The Jews of Greater Seattle range from those who are highly engaged to those who are completely unengaged from the Jewish community or Judaism in general.

• The highly affiliated, constituting slightly more than 15% of households, are connected to all parts of the organized community.

• Those who are partly affiliated are involved with some organizations and programs but do not participate fully in all aspects of the community.

• The unaffiliated, nearly 40% of households in the community, do not connect with local Jewish institutions or participate in local Jewish programming.

• 34% of all households are synagogue members; 8% claim membership in the Stroum JCC.

• 19% of households always or usually light Shabbat candles; 32% follow at least some rules of kashrut.

• Ties to Israel are strong. 56% have visited Israel at least once.

• 56% feel somewhat or very connected to Israel.

• The vast majority (68%) of Greater Seattle Jewish adults reported that they did not personally experience antisemitism in the past year, and only 6% indicated that they “somewhat” or “very much” experienced antisemitism.

Of those who indicated that they experienced antisemitism, the most frequent events (33%) constituted hearing comments that respondents considered to be antisemitic (e.g., Jewish “jokes”) followed by comments or incidents related to Israel (12%) and the use of Jewish stereotypes (11%).

Not all respondents limited their comments to the past year or to events that transpired in the Greater Seattle area, so it is difficult to draw generalizable conclusions

• Charitable donations are high, but donors are more likely to contribute to non-Jewish than Jewish organizations.

• 92% of respondents indicated that they made charitable donations (of any type) in the year preceding the survey.

• 21% made most or all of their donations to Jewish organization.

• 59% made most or all of their donations to non-Jewish organizations.


•   Marital Status: 61% of Jewish adults are married - of those, 56% are intermarried.

•   Children: 66% of children are being raised Jewish only and another 10% are being raised Jewish and another religion.

• Only 1% are being raised solely with another religion.

• The remainder are being raised in no religion or the parents have not yet decided upon a religion in which to raise them.

• 40% of Jewish children in Greater Seattle participate in some form of formal Jewish education.

•  Of age-eligible Jewish children, 32% are enrolled in Jewish preschool, 40% in supplementary school, and 5% in day school.
• Of age-eligible Jewish children, 23% participate in a Jewish youth group, 22% attend Jewish overnight camp, and 26% Jewish day camp.

Younger Adults: 17% of Jewish adults are between the ages of 18 and 35 and live in households without any children. Of all Jewish households, 9% are composed only of young adults.

• Young adults are much more likely to have been raised by intermarried parents (41%) compared to older adults (19%).

• Young adults are far more likely to have been raised in Judaism and another religion (20%) compared to older adults (4%).

• Among non-Orthodox young adults, few (20%) are married, but half (48%) of those marriages are to Jews. Young adults who are living with a significant other or partner (13%) are less likely to be with a Jewish partner (27%).

• Young adults think it is more important to raise Jewish children than to have a Jewish spouse or romantic partner. 53% say it is very important to raise Jewish children but half that number, 26%, say it is very important to marry someone Jewish.


• Seniors constitute 12% of the adult Jewish population.

• Of all Jewish households, 16% are composed only of senior adults. About one-quarter (24%) of households have at least one household member aged 65 or older.

• About one-third (34%) of Jewish seniors live alone. Half of Jewish seniors (48%) live with other seniors and the remainder (18%) live with younger people.

• Poverty does not appear to be a widespread problem for households in the Greater Seattle Jewish community, with only 2% reporting that they are poor or nearly poor when asked a question about their standard of living [10% answered “just getting along”].  Nevertheless, households  in which seniors reside are less likely to report living in poverty or near poverty (1%) than the rest of the population.



Survey data were collected from 3,058 Jewish households (at least one Jewish adult) by a combination of telephone interviewing and Internet surveys.

The local survey sampling frame was constructed from two sources: 1) households on 40 Jewish organizational lists, divided into five strata and representing the “known” Jewish households in the study area; and 2) a list of households containing people with likely ethnic Jewish names; the household list was purchased from a commercial data vendor, designed to represent the “unknown” Jewish households in the study area, and segregated into a sixth stratum.  Sample frame construction and other final survey sample details are included in Appendix A of the Technical Appendices report available for download on the right side of this Overview page.

No RDD (random digit dialing) landline or cell phone interviewing was conducted for the survey due to cost considerations.  Households not on the organizational or ethnic names lists were not covered by the sampling frame and had no chance of being interviewed. The number of Jewish households that were not "covered" by the Jewish organizational lists and the ethnic names list is unknown.





Sample Size: 3,058 Jewish Households

Sample Notes:

The Sampling and Interviewing Process - A combination of telephone interviews and email-Internet collected survey data was utilized for the survey data collection phase.  The Questionnaire and Frequency distributions are included in the Technical Appendix starting on page B1 (PDF page 24).

Primary Sample – Internet First, then Telephone Interview.

A primary sample of 6,670 potential respondents was randomly selected from the six list-based strata in Table A2 (see page A5 of Technical Appendix, page 9 of the Technical Appendix PDF). The sampling rate of each stratum was designed to over-sample "...likely Jewish households and likely households with children in order to maximize the representation of those groups within the final sample."

Prenotification letters were mailed to the primary sample of 6,670 households on May 5, 2014. These letters explained the purpose of the survey and provided each household with a unique link to complete the survey independently online. (Households for which one or more e-mail addresses were available also received these letters electronically on May 9, 2014.)

After one week, households that had not completed the survey were contacted by telephone. The primary goal of telephone contact was to administer the survey over the phone if the respondent was unable or unwilling to complete the survey online, or if the respondent simply preferred to complete the survey over the phone, or to request an e-mail address to send them an Internet survey link. Interviewing efforts continued until July 27, 2014, with multiple efforts and reminders provided by the interviewers from the Survey Research Division of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington.

Email-Internet Supplement Only

Following selection of the above sample of 6,670 households, an email-only supplemental sample was identified, which was only contacted via the Internet. This sample included all households that were not selected into the primary sample and had at least one email address included in one of the lists. The supplementary sample was conducted as an email-only survey that was not accompanied by pre-notification letters or phone calls. Email invitations were sent to the 24,332 households in the email supplement on May 29, 2014 with two follow-up reminders. The survey instrument for the email sample was identical to the one used for the primary sample; data collection ended on August 26, 2014.

The "Full Sample"

The combination of the primary sample and the email-only supplement is the “full sample.” It consisted initially of 6,670 numbers that were to be called by telephone [if needed] and 24,332 e-mail only contacts. 

• Of all of these households, 5,211 households completed the screener (AAPOR response rates by frame listed in Table A3, page A7 of Technical Appendix A).

• A preliminary designation of Jewish household was made for 1,182 households from the primary Internet-telephone sample and 1,974 from the supplemental e-mail only survey frame for a total of 3,156 completed interviews (note: total is 3,153 on page A7 of technical report.

• Ultimately, survey questionnaire review resulted in just under 100 interviews being disqualified as not including a Jewish adult, yielding the final sample of 3,058 households which include a Jewish adult who lives in the Greater Seattle study area.

• Of these 3,058 Jewish households with a Jewish adult, 2,935 were contacted from the Jewish organizational lists and 123 (4%) from the purchased commercial lists.


Study Notes:

Jewish Population Estimate: 63,400

The 2014 Greater Seattle area estimate of 63,400 Jewish persons is based on a combination of information from a data-synthesis projected conducted by the Cohen Center and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University and the results of the local survey data collection process itself. 

A complex multi-stage estimation and weighting process was used to combine these two sources of information.  The survey data results reflect this process, which among other steps, adjusts the 3,058 Jewish household interviews to provide 1) an estimate of adult JBRs (Jews by religion) as calculated from an external data-synthesis project; 2) the number of adult JNRs based on the proportion of JBRs and JNRs derived from the local survey and 3) the number of Jewish children, also from the local survey.

The main steps are highlighted here; interested readers should consult the Technical Appendix for further details.

Step 1 - The data-synthesis project models and analyzes the results of hundreds of RDD-based general population surveys which include data on respondent religion; generates an estimate of the number of adult Jews by religion (JBRs) in the study area; and uses this estimate as an external baseline for estimation and weighting data gathered from the local survey. The data-synthesis project  estimated 32,700 adult Jews by religion in the study area.

Step 2 - The data-synthesis project does not yield an estimate for adult Jews of No Religion (JNRs), that is, people who consider themselves Jewish for reasons other than religion.  Instead, an estimate of the adult JNR population is derived from the local survey, which contains data on the Jewish status – JBR, JNR and non-Jewish – of every adult household member.  The data-synthesis estimate of JBRs was multiplied by the ratio of JNRs to JBRs in stratum 6 of the local survey (stratum 6 was assumed by the researchers to include the most representative of adult JNRs) to calculate a population estimate of adult JNRs.  This calculation yielded an adult JNR estimate of 16,900. 

(Note that estimates in the Technical Appendix on page A14 are slightly different than the estimates cited above, which come from the main report’s executive summary). 

Step 3 – data from the local survey on children were added to the adult population estimates. Calculations yielded an estimate of 13,800 Jewish children in the Jewish households, for a grand total of 63,400 Jewish persons (49,600 Jewish adults and 13,800 Jewish children).

Confidence Interval

As reported in the technical appendix, the 95% confidence interval (CI) around the data-synthesis estimate of 32,700 adult JBRs is between 17,600 and 53,300.   No confidence intervals are reported for the adult JNR estimate of 16,900, the Jewish children estimate of 13,800 or the total Jewish population estimate of 63,400.


The Final Study report is available at the top of the list of materials available for downloading on the right side of this page - it includes all sections of the report, several of which have been made available separately by the Federation and the researchers. 

The Technical Appendices are available at the bottom of the downloading list.  Appendix A is a methodological appendix.  Appendix B: Survey Instrument and Codebook has the questionnaire and frequency distributions for all questions.  Appendix C has additional survey documentation, including the pre-notification letter, briefing materials for interviewers, etc.  Appendix D has a series of Maps while Appendix E describes the neighborhood organizational scheme.

Data File: A public use data file, in Stata, is downloadable from the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University; the Zip file also includes instructions for use and the "do" statement from Stata.

All questions about the public use data file should be directed to SSRI.


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