2015 Nashville and Middle Tennessee Jewish Community Study

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation of Nashville

Principal Investigator(s): Matthew Boxer, Janet Krasner Aronson, Matthew A. Brookner, Ashley Perry

Study Dates: April 15, 2015 - July 17, 2015

Population Estimates:

The 2015 report estimates that approximately 8,000 Jewish persons reside in the Nashville & Middle Tennessee area -  6,500 adults who consider themselves to be Jewish and/or their religion to be Judaism, and 1,500 Jewish children.

A total of 11,000 people (Jews and non-Jews) reside in 4,700 households with at least one Jewish adult. 

Key Findings:

The 2015 Nashville & Middle Tennessee Jewish Community Study was conducted for the Jewish Federation by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University.

Among the key findings highlighted in the report:

♦ There are approximately 11,000 people currently living in Jewish households in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, including 6,500 Jewish adults and 1,500 Jewish children as well as 2,200 non-Jewish adults and 800 non-Jewish children.

♦ Children aged 17 or younger comprise about one-fifth of the population (21% of all people; 19% of Jewish individuals).  Of the 2,300 children in Jewish households, 65% are being raised as Jews. 

♦ Over 90% of the 6,500 Jewish adults identify as Jewish by religion.

♦ Over half of all married couples (56%) are intermarried, higher than the Pew 2013 estimated national average of 44%. (Overall, three-fifths of Jewish households in Nashville and Middle Tennessee include a married couple.)

♦ Over 80% of Jewish households in Nashville and Middle Tennessee have at least some involvement in Jewish communal life, and nearly half (47%) are moderately or highly engaged.

♦ Over three-quarters (82%) of households have been to one or more programs organized by a local synagogue in the past year.

♦ Half (51%) of Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s Jewish community members have been to Israel; by contrast, 43% of all American Jews have been to Israel.

♦ In terms of frequency of visiting Israel, 21% of Nashville/Middle Tennessee Jewish community members have visited Israel more than once, very similar to the national estimate of 23% of U.S. Jews who have visited more than once.

♦ 86% of households light Hanukah candles and 81% of households participate in a
Passover seder.  In contrast, the 2013 Pew study reported that about 70% of Jews nationally attended a seder in the previous year.

♦ Half of all households (49%) light Shabbat candles at least sometimes, but only 16% usually or always light Shabbat candles. By comparison, Pew data indicate that 23% of Jewish households nationally usually or always lit Shabbat candles.




1,015 Jewish households interviewed by telephone or completed an online survey.  

Sample Size: 1,015

Sample Notes:

Technical Appendix describes research methodology and the research process in great detail. The questionnaire and basic survey results are included.

Sample frame details summarize the list-based nature of the study  -  sampling frames based on Jewish Federation list, multiple other Jewish organizational lists and a purchased list of likely Jewish households.  

♦ "In order to find any Jewish-connected households not already known to the organized Jewish community, a list of possible Jewish households was purchased from a commercial data broker, Infogroup, and was added to the sample. This list consisted of over 12,000 households that were identified as likely to include someone who was Hebrew-speaking or Jewish by ethnicity, ethnic group, or religion. These households that appeared on this list and no organizational list – nearly 11,000 households – represented the “unaffiliated” Jewish community."

A primary sample was drawn through stratified random sampling from the lists, and a secondary sample was constructed among those not selected for the primary sample but who had email addresses available.  Of the 1,015 Jewish household interviews, 725 were completed on the telephone from the primary sample and an additional 290 households interviews were completed online from the secondary sample.

A series of design, post-stratification and propensity scoring weights were calculated and applied to the achieved sample in order to represent the population from which the sample was drawn (the sampling frames and their lists) and to estimate the size of that population. 

The study did not employ a Random Digit Dial sampling frame for survey interviews or estimation of the Jewish population, citing difficulties associated with RDD sampling of a rare population. 

The Technical Appendix discusses sample biases and limitations.


Study Notes:

A public use dataset in Stata is available from the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University; the zip file includes instructions for use and the Stata "do" statements.

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

Language: English


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