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Study: San Francisco Jews need more outreach
Jewish institutions in the San Francisco area should focus on increasing Jewish engagement among the unaffiliated rather than on fundraising from them, a new study says.

The community-wide scan of Jewish professionals in nearly 100 institutions was carried out by the New York-based Jewish Outreach Institute. Sponsored by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, it follows similar studies in Washington; Tucson, Ariz.; Columbus, Ohio; and Rochester, N.Y.

The Jewish population of the Bay Area has nearly doubled in 20 years, but the area still has low synagogue affiliation and high intermarriage rates compared to the rest of the country. The institute’s executive director, Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, says the study focuses on the Jewish institutions doing outreach rather than on the demographics of the target population, and finds room for improvement in the methods used to reach the unaffiliated. Specifically, the report counsels taking outreach to the streets — into malls, movie theaters and bookstores — rather than waiting for people to seek out Jewish involvement on their own.

“We’re trying to increase engagement,” said Paul Golin, the institute’s assistant executive director. “Hopefully it will lead to affiliation, but that’s not our immediate goal.” Olitzky added that the institute “hopes to build a coalition of professionals that will come together across denominational and institutional lines” to implement the study’s recommendations. The full report will be released April 20 in San Francisco.



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