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June 14, 1985 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

44

Friday, June 14, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

NOTEBOOK

A leading
demographer's
profile of the
American Jewish
community
highlighted a recent
Jewish press
convention, which
also included a
Democratic
Governor's critique
of his party and a
plea for the 8,000
Jews left behind in
Ethiopia.

Most Jews attend synagogue at least once or twice a year, but the level of commitment does not seem to run deep.

Good News, Bad News
For American Jewry

BY GARY ROSENBLATT

Editor

A Mile Wide And
An Inch Deep

Phoenix — A leading Amer-
ican Jewish demographer
says there is good news and
bad news regarding the
future of American Jewry:
namely, that Jewish iden-
tification is a mile wide and
an inch deep.
Prof. Gary Tobin, a social
planner and associate pro-
fessor at Brandeis University
who has done Jewish demog-
raphic studies in a number of
communities — he is current-
ly working on a major project
for Baltimore's Associated
Jewish Charities — offered a
profile of the American
Jewish community. He focus-
ed more on the quality of
Jewish life than the numeri-
cal aspects that have receiv-
ed so much attention in re-
cent years.

Addressing a session of the
43rd annual American Jew-
ish Press Association conven-
tion, Tobin discounted a
widely reported demographic
study suggesting that the
American Jewish population
will decrease dramatically in
the next century. He said
that the research involved
was insufficient at best, and
that his own findings point to
a Jewish population that
"will likely decrease some-
what but is certainly not in a
perilous situation."
"I don't share the sense of
alarm that we hear in some
circles," Tobin said.
His message to the 60 Jew-
ish newspaper editors and
publishers attending the con-
vention was clear: the Jewish
press can play a critical role
as "the glue to hold Jews to-
gether," replacing such "old
glues that no longer hold like
ritual observance, geographic

proximity and intricate
friendship networks." Tobin
said that Jewish newspapers
could serve as the "central in-
strumentality of the com-
munity," providing for a
clearing house for ideas for
Jews from all areas of the
spectrum.
The American Jewish
Press Association (AJPA)
meeting, hosted by the
Greater Phoenix Jewish
News, also featured a talk by
Arizona Governor Bruce
Babbitt, a potential Demo-
cratic Presidential candidate
for 1988, who talked about
what's wrong with the Demo-
cratic Party, and a report by
Howard Lenhoff of the
American Association for
Ethiopian Jews on efforts to
save the 8,000 Jews still in
Ethiopia.
Dr. Tobin's analysis focus-
ed on Jewish demographics,
religious commitment and

organizational data, based on
studies of 17 communities
comprising about 70 percent
of the American Jewish popu-
lation.
The biggest change over
the last 20 years is the
"phenomenal population
shift" from New York to
Florida of about 600,000
Jews. Tobin called this shift
"bigger than the exodus from
Egypt." He noted that many
former New Yorkers have
also settled in cities like
Phoenix, Denver and Wash-
ington, D.C.
Overall, Jews are moving
more than ever, from city to
city and from one part of a
city to another, a mobility re-
flecting that of the general
American population.
The size of the average
Jewish family is decreasing,
but only slightly, from about
2.8 to somewhere between 2.2
and 2.6. About two-thirds of

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