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A Project of

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The 1981-1982 National Survey of American Jews

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To fill the need for current information on the country's Jewish population, the American Jewish Committee recently sponsored a study using an experimental, low-cost sampling technique to survey a representative group of American Jews. In the fall of 1981, a six-page questionnaire was mailed to approximately 1,700 people having about a dozen Distinctive Jewish Names (such as Cohen, Kaplan, Levine, etc.) who were listed in the telephone directories of over 40 communities of all sizes throughout the continental United States. The survey replicates many previously reported findings pertaining to American Jews (especially in the demographic area), documents characteristics and trends noted earlier by astute observers of American Jewry, and clarifies some issues by sharpening our understanding of the thinking and practices of American Jews. The experience of this first survey has shown that it is possible to collect reasonably representative survey data on American Jews at relatively low cost. This successful experiment with the mail-back Distinctive Jewish Name technique may ultimately spur other researchers to collect additional data on these and other matters, thereby contributing to improved and expanded quantitative research on American Jewry.

In The American Jewish Yearbook, American Jewish Committee, 1983, p.89-110.