Phoenix, Arizona is an excellent example of the new face of North American Jewry—and the kind of community JOI is excited about working with. Thanks to the support of the UJC and its Emerging Communities Project, we just completed our signature Community Outreach Scan and presented the findings to the community, as reported in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Phoenix has become the 5th largest city in the United States. It now boasts the largest public university (ASU at 65,000 students). And the Jewish community has approached 100,000, with an affiliation rate of around 26%, according to a study by Jack Ukeles and Associates commissioned by the community in 2002.
People of various ages continue to flock to the community, and its younger population is equal in size to its older population. But its younger population’s interfaith marriage rate (estimated at 55% in 2002) is far higher than in its older population. And what is most important as far as JOI is concerned: only 26% of its interfaith families are raising Jewish children.
Interfaith marriage is not the end of Jewish continuity. Not raising Jewish children is the end of Jewish continuity, so this must be a focus of the community. That is why we are pleased to be working with Phoenix in this first stage of our Community Transformation Initiative, which seeks to transform outreach in an entire community. We anticipate helping the community to respond positively to these challenges and lead the way for similar communities in the United States. The face of the American Jewish community is changing. And JOI is here to help navigate that change.
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