2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): Harvey and Terry Hieken, Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Morton J. and Morton D. May Fund of the Greater St. Louis Jewish Foundation, The Lubin-Green Foundation

Principal Investigator(s): Steven M. Cohen, Jacob B. Ukeles, Ron Miller, David Dutwin, Susan Sherr

Study Dates: April 1, 2014 to June 23, 2014

Population Estimates:

In 2014, there are an estimated 32,900 households in the St. Louis study area (the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County) with at least one adult who considers himself/herself to be Jewish or partly Jewish.

These 32,900 Jewish households include 61,100 Jewish persons  -  50,200 Jewish or partly Jewish adults and 10,900 Jewish or partly Jewish children. 

In addition, a total of 21,600 non-Jewish adults and 6,600 non-Jewish children live in St. Louis Jewish households.  Thus, the total number of people living in St. Louis Jewish households is 89,300.

The number of non-Jewish persons living in St. Louis Jewish households has skyrocketed from 6,000 in 1995 to 28,200 in 2014, an increase of 370%. 

In 2014, 68% of individuals living in Jewish households were Jewish, a sharp decline from 90% in 1995, reflecting increased intermarriage and inter-partnering, as well as a lower rate of children being raised as Jewish or partly Jewish in 2014.


Key Findings:

 St. Louis Jewish Community Study

The results of the 2014 Jewish Community Study of St. Louis are based on 1,003 completed RDD-based (random digit dialed) interviews with a Jewish household respondent in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The study was conducted for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis by JPAR, Jewish Policy & Action Analysis.

Among the major findings of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study:

Jewish Population

•  The number of Jewish persons in St. Louis in 2014 is estimated to be 61,100; in 1995, the number of Jewish persons was 53,400, for an apparent increase of 14% from 1995 to 2014.  

The DATA FILE for the 2014 ST LOUIS JEWISH COMMUNITY STUDY is available for DataBank users to download in SPSS format.

In 1995, the prior study, the number of Jewish persons living in 24,600 Jewish households was estimated to be 53,400  (plus 600 institutionalized Jewish persons).  Published reports from 1995 stressed a 60,000 "Jewish population" number, adding 6,000 non-Jewish persons to the Jewish persons total.

•  In terms of the 14% Jewish persons increase from 1995 to 2014 (53,4000 to 61,100), the  2014 Study was successful in covering the entire three "county" study area, while the 1995 study did not include a significant number of all general households in the study area, mostly households in low Jewish density areas.

•  Thus, the apparent increase in the number of Jewish persons from 1995 to 2014 may reflect improved sampling, interviewing and estimation by the JPAR research team - as well as a possible increase in the number of Jewish persons in St. Louis.

•  An estimated 32,900 Jewish households (at least one Jewish adult lives in them) reside in the Study area, 4.7% of all area households.  Given the relatively low Jewish density of areas excluded in the 1995 study, the number of Jewish households has also increased, partially reflecting increased intermarriage.

 A total of 89,300 people live in these households, including 28,200 non-Jewish persons and 61,100 Jewish persons.

•  Compared to 1995, the number of non-Jewish persons in St. Louis Jewish households has increased about 370% by 2014.


The Olivette-Ladue area has the highest density of the geographic sub-areas: 28% of all households in this area include a Jewish adult.  In Creve Coeur, 21% of households are Jewish, 14% in University City/Clayton and 8% in Chesterfield.  These are also the most Jewishly engaged areas.

Thus, the St. Louis Jewish community reflects a geographic divide between more and less engaged Jewish households; 60% of Jewish households (and 67% of Jewish persons) are located in areas with relatively high Jewish residential density and higher rates of Jewish connection, while 40% of Jewish households and 33% of Jewish persons live in the areas with low density, low affiliation and high intermarriage (St. Charles County, the City of St. Louis and the St, Louis County areas of Des Peres/Kirkwood/Webster Groves, and peripheral-to-the-Jewish-core parts of St Louis County north and south of the central Jewish residential area).


•  Age -  19% of all people living in Jewish St. Louis households are children under age 18, while 18% are seniors.  More than half of the people living in Jewish households in University City/Clayton and Downtown St. Louis are between the ages of 18 and 44.

•  Place of Birth - 55% of survey respondents were born in the St. Louis area, 4% in the Former Soviet Union and 1% in Israel.  11% of all respondents have moved to the area in the 10 years preceding the survey.  Only 5% of all respondents plan to move away from the St. Louis ares in the two year period following their interview.

•  Employment, Education -  16% of all Jewish survey respondents and spouses/partners under age 65 are self-employed and another 71% employed by others.  70% of Jewish respondents and spouses/partners  have a college degree; 37% a graduate degree.

•  Diversity - 4% of St. Louis Jewish households include someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  Among respondents under age 30, the LGBT percentage is 9%.  13% of Jewish households include at least one person who is multiracial, Hispanic or non-white.

• Children - 29% of all area Jewish households include a child (almost 10,000 households), while 31% of all households include a senior; 40% of the households are without a child and/or a senior

Jewish Engagement of Children 

•  Of all children in Jewish households ages 0-4, just 16% have gone to Jewish preschools (including infant care, day care and nursery schools), 53% were enrolled in non-Jewish preschools, and 31% were not in any preschool/nursery/day care programs (usually the youngest children).

•  43% of households with at least one child ages 5-17 have sent a child to a Jewish day camp;  27% of all households with children 5-17 have sent a child to an overnight Jewish camp; 27% of households with children 5-17 have sent a child to a Jewish youth group,  Only 16% of households with children have sent a  child on a trip to Israel.

Adult Jewish Identity 

•  About half (47%) of Jewish respondents identify as Reform, 20% as Conservative, 5% as Orthodox and 21% as “Just Jewish.”

•  In 1995, 60% of Jewish respondents identified as Reform, 21% as Conservative, 3% as Orthodox and 11% as “other.”

•  53% of Jewish respondents report that being Jewish is very important to them, while another 31% feel it is somewhat important.

•  Only 31% of non-denominational and secular Jewish respondents feel that being Jewish is very important, compared to 87% of Orthodox respondents, 83% of Conservative and 51% of Reform.

•  33% of Jewish respondents feel strongly connected to the St. Louis Jewish community.

•  74% of Jewish respondents feel attached to Israel: 38% feel very attached and another 36% feel somewhat attached.

•  More young adults ages 18-34 feel very attached to Israel (47%) than adults
ages 35-49 (29%), ages 50-64 (37%) and ages 65+ (42%).

•  Travel to Israel has increased since 1995, especially among younger Jewish respondents. In 1995, 35% of all Jewish respondents had traveled to Israel, compared to 43% in 2014.

Jewish Household Connections to Jewish Life

•  Wide variation in Jewish friendship patterns exists in the St. Louis Jewish community;  27% of all survey respondents say most or all of their friends are Jewish, 20% say half, 29% say some and 24% say few or none of their close friends are Jewish.

•  46% of Jewish households report that they are synagogue/temple affiliated; in 1995, the reported percentage was 56%

•  29% of the household respondents report that they attend Jewish religious services at least once a month (1995: 31%), 26% never attend, and the remainder attend a few times, only on special occasions or only on the High Holidays.

•  26% of St. Louis Jewish households report a JCC (Jewish community center) membership, up from 24% in 1995.

•  13% of Jewish households report that their home is kosher in 2014 compared to 9% in 1995.  In 1995 and in 2014, a similar 57% of Jewish respondents report always fasting on Yom Kippur (including those who report that they cannot fast due to health issues).

•  In general, however, Jewish ritual practice appears to have declined since 1995.  The percentage of Jewish households that always/usually lights Chanukah candles declined from  72% to 58% in 1995, the percentage that always/usually participate in a Passover Seder declined from 77% to 60%, and the percent that always/usually light Shabbat candles declined from 24% to 17%.


-  48% of married St. Louis couples are intermarried, a sharp increase from the 25% reported in 1995.  The intermarriage rate appears to have leveled off since the 1980s.

•  Declines in overall rates of Jewish participation and engagement noted above generally reflect the lower level of participation in Jewish life of intermarried vs. inmarried Jewish households, and the increase in intermarriage since 1995. 

Raising Children Jewish.

•  Overall, 52% of all children in Jewish households are being raised Jewish-only and 10% partly Jewish; 11% are being raised without a religion (but no Jewishly), 14% have an undecided status, and 13% are being raised in another religion.

•  However, almost every child in an inmarried household is being raised as Jewish-only (88%)  or partly Jewish (3%); almost none are being raised in another religion.

• About 7,500 children  -  43% of all children in St. Louis Jewish households - live in an intermarried family. 

•  Just under half of children in intermarried households are being raised as Jewish (27% Jewish-only and 18% partly Jewish), 26% without a religion and 19% in another religion. 

Jewish Philanthropy & Volunteering

•  St. Louis Jewish households are philanthropic. 91% gave to charitable causes and 62% gave to a Jewish charity, including 38% who report donating to the Jewish Federation.

• Young adults are less likely to give to Jewish causes than older adults, but they are equally as likely to give to non-Jewish charities.

•  St. Louis Jews are also involved in Tikkun Olam, or “repairing the world,” through volunteerism; 80% volunteered somewhere in the past twelve months, with 44% of the households volunteering for a Jewish organization.

Poverty and Social Services

•  Economic Vulnerability. There is significant economic vulnerability within the St. Louis Jewish community.

•  24% of households “cannot make ends meet” or are “just managing” financially.

•  8% of Jewish households in St. Louis are poor (under 150% of Federal poverty level, or $35,800 annual income for family of four) and 18% are near poor (between
150%-250% of Federal poverty level, or $59,600 annual income for family of four).

•  Food insecurity: 25% of the Jewish poor and 28% of the near poor cut the size of their meals or skipped meals over the past year because there wasn’t enough money for food.  Overall, 8% of all Jewish households reported food insecurity in the 2014 Study.

•  Cost is a significant barrier to living a Jewish life for many low-income families.  On every indicator of cost issues related to Jewish engagement, the least affluent households were most likely to report that cost "prevented" them from engaging in Jewish life during the "past year or two" than the more affluent.

•  17% of those with incomes under $50,000 report that they were prevented from joining a synagogue compared to 8% of those with household incomes of at least $150,000; JCC membership impact was even stronger, 23% of the least affluent and 7% report cost prevented membership.

• Among households with children, 25% of those with incomes under $75,000 report that cost prevented them from sending a child to a Jewish day camp, 21%  to a Jewish overnight camp, and 22% to a Jewish full time day school.  Comparable percentages for households with incomes of at least $150,000 were 8%, 9% and 2% respectively.

• Social Services Assistance - 36% of all Jewish households report that they sought assistance for at least one human services need when answering the survey.  Services included assistance for children and adults, seniors, serious or chronic illness in the household, and financial assistance.  A few specific findings:

•  17% of households with children sought assistance for a child with a physical disability or a learning disability;

•  11% report seeking assistance for an adult with a disability, including Alzheimer's

•  10% report seeking assistance for a senior in the household

•  6% report seeking housing assistance or financial assistance

Jewish seniors who live alone are potentially at-risk:

•   Of the 3,000 Jewish seniors living alone, 64% have an adult child in the
St. Louis area who could assist them if needed.

• Over one-third (about 1,000) of Jewish seniors living alone have no adult
child living in the St. Louis area, or do not have any adult children at all.





1,003 Jewish household interviews completed between April 1, 2014 and June 23, 2014.

Of these interviews, 898 were completed with Jewish respondents (852 "Jewish-only" and 46 "partially" Jewish respondents), as well as with 105 non-Jewish respondents.  The non-Jewish respondents were comfortable answering the survey about their household's Jewish experiences and behaviors, and provided a wealth of information on intermarried couples in the community - 58% (weighted) of all intermarried households were represented in the interviewing process by a non-Jewish respondent.

Sample Size: 1,003

Sample Notes:

The public release of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study results was on February 18, 2015 at Temple Israel.  The Executive Summary booklet and the Slide Set used in the public presentation were made available at the Jewish Federation website the next day.  The expanded slide set with additional data was updated and added in June, 2015 after a series of community presentations by the Federation were completed. (All materials from the 2014 study are available for downloading at the Berman Jewish DataBank on right side of this Overview page).

Additional public presentations of study results were made on April 20, 2015 (Human Services: Poverty, Hunger, Social Services and Seniors), April 29, 2015 (Jewish Identity and Engagement Intermarriage, Formal and Informal Education Synagogue Membership and Ritual Practice) and May 27, 2015 (Young Adults Demography, Geography and Engagement).  Slide sets from these presentations were added to downloadable files in June 2015.


The 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study's state-of-the-art RDD (random digit dialed) survey sampling, interviewing and data weighting are described in the detailed Methodology report written for JPAR by David Dutwin, JPAR's Chief Methodologist, and Susan Sherr (available on the right side of this Study page).  It includes a complete sample disposition for the Study, a detailed description of the sample design  (unduplicated LIST, RDD landlines, RDD cell phones) as well as post-stratification efforts, design effect calculations and a comparison to other JPAR study design effects, Jewish household and population estimate and weighting procedures, potential error ranges, etc.

The screening questions used to determine if a Jewish adult resided in the household, the main interview questionnaire, the FAQs for interviews and a pronunciation guide for SSRS interviewers are also available as separate downloads under "documentation."

Survey interviewing was completed between April 1, 2014 and June 23, 2014.  A total of 181,762 different numbers were called numbers were dialed, of which 38,344 were cell phone numbers. 

Potential sampling error for all 1,003 completed interviews is +/- 4.5% (including design effect).

Table 5 in the Methodology Report provides a complete sample disposition by sampling frame.  Response rate was 38.5% overall: 42.8% in the land line strata and 25.8% in the cell phone strata. 

• 292 interviews were completed with respondents on cell phones.

• Over 100 of these cell phone interviews were completed through RDD-dialing only.

The study achieved an 83% cooperation rate for identified Jewish households - essentially the same rate in the land line and the cell phone frames.


Study Notes:

The 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study was conducted for the Jewish Federation by JPAR - Jewish Policy & Action Research. JPAR is a strategic alliance of UAI (Ukeles Associates, Inc., New York) and SSRS (Social Science Research Solutions, Media, PA.).

SSRS  - David Dutwin and Susan Sherr were responsible for sample design and sample selection, the interviewing process, the construction of the initial data file and Jewish population estimates, and weighting of the data file.

THE DATA FILE FOR THE 2014 ST. LOUIS JEWISH COMMUNITY STUDY is available for downloading via the DataBank (see right side of page).

Unweighted N= 1,003. 

Zipped data file includes SPSS SAV and SPSS POR versions, 545 variables.  Weight variables are HHWtFinal, v318 (projects to 32,908 Jewish households, precise), v319 WtJews (61,117 Jewish persons precise), v320 WtPPL (89,255 all people in HH including non-Jews). There is also a StatHHWT variable (v321) which divides the household weight for each case in the data by the average household weight to produce a weight with N=1,003 after weighting and stratification, which can be used for statistical testing.

The data file is designed to be used in SPSS SAV -  all labeling assumes SPSS SAV will be used.  For Berman Jewish DataBank users who need to use the PORTABLE - POR -  file, a PDF which summarizes the variable name truncations in the transition from SAV to POR is included in the zip file - it is not needed by SAV users.


The UAI Research team  - Steven M. Cohen, Ron Miller and Jacob B. Ukeles -  provided data analysis, modifications to the data file (such as hundreds of recoded variables), slide preparation and report writing.  Steven M. Cohen's video for the Federation in the Spring of 2014, prior to the survey's field calls,  was designed to explain the survey to St. Louis residents and to encourage participation of Jewish and non-Jewish potential respondents; it is available as a "You-Tube" link in the Publicity section on the bottom right of this Study page.

Language: English


Survey Reports

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Executive Summary Booklet

Slide Sets

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Slides - Public Presentation February 18, 2015 (JPAR)

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Slides - Expanded Slide Set with Additional Data 2015

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Slides - Human Services Presentation by Federation (April 20, 2015)

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Slides - Jewish Identity and Engagement Presentation by Federation (April 29, 2015)

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study: Slides - Young Adults Presentation by Federation (May 27, 2015)

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Research Methodology - JPAR

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Screening Questionnaire - JPAR -SSRS

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Survey Questions - JPAR- SSRS

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - FAQs for Interviewers - SSRS

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Pronunciation Guide for Interviewers - SSRS

Data Files and Data Definitions

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Zipped SPSS DATA FILES - March 2015

Publicity Material

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Pre-Survey Publicity Video Encouraging Community Participation - Professor Steven M. Cohen for JPAR - Spring 2014

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - St Louis Public Radio Summary - Article

» 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study - Federation Website Pre-Release Publicity (Feb 17, 2015)

Bookmark and Share