For the first time since 2008, the local Jewish community has an updated, benchmark study of Jewish Cincinnati. The Brandeis University Cohen Center for Modern Jewish studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, also at Brandeis, prepared this new report for the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Two of the lead authors of the Brandeis study were Dr. Leonard Saxe and Dr. Janet Krasner Aronson, both of whom shared their findings in front of a large audience at the JCC last Wednesday evening, Jan. 15. Saxe said “This community study is designed to describe, not evaluate.”
Among the key findings: There are 18,900 Jewish households (households with at least one Jewish adult) in Greater Cincinnati. They include an estimated 32,100 Jewish individuals. That’s a six percent increase from 2008. Between the years 2008 and 2019 the number of people living in Jewish households rose by twenty-four percent and the number of Jewish households increased thirty-six percent. However, the number of non-Jewish adults in those households rose by seventy-three percent, a figure that shows a large number of interfaith homes in Greater Cincinnati.
Fifty-six percent of all children in Jewish households in our area are being raised Jewish in some form—secularly, religiously or culturally—including children being brought up both Jewish and in another religion. One third of children in Jewish households are being raised with no religion or their parents have not yet made a decision about their children’s religion. More than half of the children whose parents have not yet chosen a religion for them are under the age of six.
Twenty-eight percent of Cincinnati-area Jewish households belong to a synagogue or other worship community, but four out of every five adult Jews say Judaism is a part of their daily lives. Sixty-two percent of Jewish adults have attended a Jewish religious service at least once during the past year. Also within the past year, fifty-nine percent of Jewish adults have attended one or more programs sponsored by a Jewish organization. In a typical year, sixty-three percent of Jewish adults attend a Passover Seder and eighty-two percent light Chanukah candles.
Where Do Greater Cincinnati Jews Live?
The Brandeis study finds that the Jewish population is located in four geographic sectors: Urban, Central and East, Outer Suburbs and Outlying areas. The highest proportions of Jewish households are located in the Urban, Center and East areas. The lowest proportion is in outlying areas. The Urban sector includes neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Walnut Hills, Mt. Lookout and Clifton. The Central and East sectors include communities such as Blue Ash, Golf Manor, Montgomery and Amberley Village. The Outer Suburbs consist of areas such as Loveland, Mason and West Chester/Fairfield. The largest concentration of Jewish children (forty-three percent) is in the Central and East regions. The largest share of Jewish young adults (forty-six percent) is in the Urban sector.
Inmarriage and Intermarriage
Three quarters of Greater Cincinnati Jewish households include a couple which is married or partnered. Fifty-five percent of these adults are married to or partnered with a non-Jewish spouse. That’s higher than the national rate of forty-four percent.
Half of all the couples in interfaith relationships say that the local Jewish community is somewhat or very supportive of them.
The largest Jewish denomination in the Cincinnati area (slightly more than a third of Jewish adults) is Reform. Thirteen percent of local Jews are Conservative. Five percent are Orthodox. Forty-one percent of Jewish adults do not identify with any denomination of Judaism. They consider themselves secular, just Jewish or are not specific about their denomination.
The 2019 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study will be the subject of a Year of Learning for community leaders and individuals. The objective will be to gain new insights that will lead to more questions and further research, as congregations, agencies, organizations and funders plan for an evolving Jewish community in the next decade.
We will take a look at more key findings of the 2019 Jewish Community Study in next week’s issue.