I am a bit obsessed. I have written multiple times about the release of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Study, funded completely by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Foundation. Tuesday is THE day that our first data collection since 2002 will become public.
This past week, two major U.S. communities released their own studies, Washington DC and the Bay Area. After reading both of the executive summaries of their reports I firmly know one thing, if you’ve seen one Jewish community, you’ve only seen one Jewish community. In other words, while there are some similarities, there are also stark differences and qualities that make each community unique. I was truly stunned to learn in the DC study about the growth of the Jewish community in the northern Virginia suburbs. In San Francisco, I was very surprised to learn that the Bay Area has grown to 350,000 Jews!
For those of us who have been in Pittsburgh for a long time, we have a tendency to think we know what’s happening here. Last week, the Federation held three programs in Florida for our snowbirds. I said to many people that in 2002 we counted 42,200 Jews. I then asked them how many do we have today. While not universal, the overwhelming majority of people answered that we have less – some said 40,000, others 35,000. If you come onTuesday at 5:30 at Rodef Shalom, you will actually hear a number that is pointing in the exact opposite direction (sorry, you have to come to hear the actual total).
We need to make informed decisions for our community using facts and data. Doing so may cause us to change some of what the Federation, our agencies and our community synagogues currently do. And, the data contained in the study will also point to things that we are doing well and we should think about how we can do more of certain activities. The real key is that we all need to be open minded and open to the possibility of change if we are going to effectively take care of the needs of the Pittsburgh Jewish community of 2018.
Hoping to see many of you on Tuesday.