|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