4 Takeaways From Survey of Baltimore Jewish Population

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The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore held a presentation on May 20 to analyze the results of its population survey, which it revealed last week. (Read part one).

Some points that will influence The Associated going forward are migration, youth philanthropy, community vulnerabilities, and perceptions of anti-Semitism.


1. Moving

The presentation reflected on the size of the community, which experienced modest growth over the past decade — an increase of 11% in Jewish households and 4% in Jewish individuals since 2010. Most notably, there is a shift from the county to downtown, and downtown to the Towson area.

Graphic by
The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University

Leaders of the session noted that fewer people have been here since their birth than is perceived.

Of 95,400 Jews, 57% are in the “Jewish hub of Baltimore,” meaning Pikesville, Park Heights, Mt. Washington, Owings Mills, and Reisterstown. But a whopping 60% of young adults (18-34) live in Baltimore City.

2. Youth

Of young Jewish adults in Baltimore (aged 23-34), a large majority are philanthropic; 80% to be exact. This is higher than those aged 50-64. However, they are the least likely group to donate to Jewish and/or local organizations. Ergo, this market may be something to consider.

However, a large portion does volunteer with things like Moishe House or Repair the World — 26% of the youth as compared to less than 16% in other age groups.

“There’s some hopeful trends,” said Beth Goldsmith, chair of the board.

3. Vulnerabilities

“We know we have an affluent community, but plenty, 15%, are just getting by and have  no savings. These need to be our focus,” said Mark Neumann, co-chair of the community study.

The community’s vulnerabilities are mostly health issues and disabilities. Three in 10  households have at least one person with significant health issues, special needs, or
disabilities, while just 13% have a primary caregiver.

Furthermore, many say it limits their access to work, financial security, and schooling (note that a large portion of our elder community pays for their grandchildren’s schooling). Therefore, Goldsmith noted The Associated will look into providing more support for caregivers.

4. Israel and Anti-Semitism

The majority, 87%, of the community see Israel as their homeland, with the younger generations being less likely to have completely positive views. This factoid encourages Goldsmith to look at how they promote dialogue around Israel. It may also be taken into consideration with the new question on 2020’s survey: a question on how threatening anti-Semitism is.

About 60% of Jewish Baltimore is concerned about prejudice toward Jews on the national or local level: 59% are worried about national anti-Semitism, but only 26% are concerned about local anti-Semitism.

One in five people cite the concern as a safety issue.

Some other analyses that The Associated took away as they looked at the study included that zip codes do not represent geographical or cultural communities well, and that the community’s growth corresponds to national Jewish growth.

“My biggest goal right now is to get more people engaged,” said Goldsmith.

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