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September 08, 1989 - Image 39

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-08

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Detroit's Jewish
population study
is more than
just a census.



Associate Editor


etroit is one of the
last of the 18 major
Jewish communi-
ties in the United
States to re-survey
its Jewish population. Next
month, after the holidays, the
Detroit Jewish community
will begin a 16-month look at
itself for the first time in
more than 30 years.
To accomplish this, more
than 1,000 Jewish households
— one in every 30 Jewish
families — will be interview-
ed by professional
What does the Jewish
Welfare Federation, which is
spending $270,000 to study
Detroit's community, hope to

"The study forces communi-
ty leaders to think about peo-
ple they don't normally think
about," says Steven Cohen of
Queens College, New York,
co-director of the Detroit
study. "The people wanting
the study are highly
motivated and deeply caring.
Their perceptions are shaped
by their peers and the people
in the individual agencies
that they are concerned with.
"This is the rich and the
poor, but they don't se s the
people in the middle or their
needs. This study won't make
decisions, but it will help the
leaders make decisions?'
Co-director Jacob B. Ukeles,
of Ukeles Associates in New
York, sees the results as a tool
for a community that will
spend millions of dollars in
the coming years on agency

buildings and Jewish
"You are already spending
hundreds of thousands to
preserve Oak Park and
Southfield (as Jewish com-
munities)," says Ukeles.
"How much is the right
amount? If we can provide in-
formation on why people
move, we can help make the
right decisions that will be ef-
Adds Cohen, "Where do you
plan to live? If you have
grown children, where do
they live? Is there an out-
migration? An in-migation?"
"And if a lot of young peo-
ple are moving away," says
Ukeles, "should the com-
munity develop intervention
Deciding which questions
to ask thousands of Detroiters
has been the major focus of
the two researchers since
May, when they and Detroit's
Market Opinion Research
firm were awarded the con-
tract by the Jewish Welfare
Federation board. They and
their staffs have organized
and met with four focus

groups totalling 40 Jewish
Detroiters from all walks of
life. They have also met with
lay and professional leaders
from a number of Jewish
agencies here.
"By talking to Jews of
various circumstances about
their concerns," says Cohen,
"you learn about the com-
munity from different angles.
Each meeting has added a
new piece of knowledge?'
The two researchers were
not concerned that the focus
groups were statistically
representative. Cohen was
seeking diversity: singles,
married, divorced, with
children, without children,
and diverse in terms of age,
sex, neighborhood and finan-
cial status.
Says Cohen, "I wanted to
hear a single Jewish mother
speak about her problems!'
Cohen and Ukeles first
worked together in 1980 on
New York's Jewish popula-
tion survey. Cohen is a pro-
fessor of sociology at Queens
College and his focus is the
American Jewish community.
Ukeles has been involved

with urban planning and con-
sulting since 1962 in New
York and Pennsylvania. He
was the founding chairman of
the graduate department of
urban affairs and policy
analysis at the New School
for Social Research and was
executive director for com-
munity sery ices from
1981-85 for the New York
Federation of Jewish

More than 1,000
Jewish households
will be contacted
in October and

Cohen describes himself as
"a policy-oriented researcher"
and Ukeles as a "research-
directed policy analyst. We
complement each other."
The Detroit study is based
in part on a group of core
questions developed by the
North American Jewish Data
Bank, a project spurred by
Detroiter Mandell Berman
and which Ukeles helped



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