At JOI, one of the first steps towards effective outreach is figuring out your target demographic. Is it young people, the elderly, the unaffiliated, etc…? Once you know your target audience, you can fashion programs with a better chance of engaging those you have set out to reach.
That’s what’s happening in Israel right now, according to a piece in the Jerusalem Post. The government has charged the group Nativ with studying the Jewish community in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) “as the next step in an initiative to expand Jewish educational services in the region.”
The government is taking this step because aliya amongst people living in the FSU has dropped dramatically – even though there are, according to government figures, approximately 900,000 people in the FSU eligible for Israeli citizenship.
But others dispute those figures, saying that they are based on “Russian and Ukranian censuses and neglected to account for the unique way in which Russian speaking Jews identify.” And furthermore, while an estimated 80 percent of the 900,000 figure are intermarried, “it’s precisely the children of these intermarried families who are the main consumers of Jewish activities in FSU countries.”
That’s an interesting development. At JOI, we believe that intermarriage is not a barrier to Jewish continuity – it’s the decision of families to not raise their children as Jews. In the FSU countries, it seems these interfaith children are the ones promoting continuity. With this study, Nativ will be able to better target their audience and find the best way to engage the area’s Jewish population – hopefully including not just the large number of adult children of intermarriage, but the rest of their families, too.
We have done a number of community scans and demographic studies to help better understand the needs of targeted populations. Perhaps we can take our signature outreach methodology and set up a branch in the FSU.