Study: Jewish population of St. Louis rose by 14 percent in last 20 years

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Jewish population of St. Louis rose by 14 percent to 61,000 in the last 20 years, a new study has found.

The results of the 2014 St. Louis Jewish Community Study, the first study of Jewish St Louis in 20 years, were released last month.

The study also found that there are an estimated 32,900 Jewish households, defined as a household with at least one Jew living in it, an increase of 34 percent. Of the 89,300 people living in Jewish households, 11 percent consider themselves “partly Jewish” and 31 percent are not Jewish, according to the survey.

In 1995, one out of every 10 people in Jewish households was not Jewish; today that number is one in three, according to the survey.

The telephone survey was conducted between April 2014 and June 2014 and the data is based on extensive interviews conducted with 1,003 respondents in Jewish households. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percent.

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The study was conducted by Jewish Policy & Action Research, an independent agency that is a strategic alliance between Ukeles Associates, Inc and Social Science Research Solutions. JPAR’s researchers include Professor Steven M. Cohen, Dr. Jacob B. Ukeles, Dr. Ron Miller, Dr. Susan Sherr and Dr. David Dutwin, and it has conducted 20 previous studies of Jewish communities in the United States.

Some 19 percent of the people living in Jewish households are up to 17 years old, with 18 percent at age 65 or older, according to the study, which also found that 29 percent of all households have at least one child living in it. In addition, some 55 percent of respondents were born in the St. Louis area.  Also, only 5 percent of the total number of respondents plan to move from St. Louis in the next two years, with the number increasing to 13 percent for those under age 35.

Some 48 percent of married couples in St. Louis Jewish households are intermarried, while 63 percent of couples married after 2000 have intermarried.

About 47 percent of Jewish respondents identified themselves as Reform, 20 percent as Conservative, 5 percent as Orthodox, and 21 percent as “just Jewish.”

Some 46 percent of respondents are members of synagogues, down from 56 in 1995; 26 percent are members of the JCC, up from 24 percent 20 years ago; and 13 percent keep kosher, up from 9 percent. Still, 17 percent always or usually light Shabbat candles, down from 24 percent, and 60 percent always or usually participate in a Seder, down from 77 percent.

Cohen told the St. Louis Jewish light that the results are similar to surveys in population studies in other Midwestern cities.