Jews of color are chronically undercounted, researchers find
The Jewish community has been undercounting the number of people of color who are Jewish, a new analysis found.
Researchers at Stanford University and the University of San Francisco examined 25 population studies of American Jews and found that many failed to ask about race and the methods they used meant that nonwhite Jews were undersampled.
“The Jewish community has consistently been inconsistent with respect to how it attempts to account for Jews of color within the American Jewish community,” lead researcher Ari Kelman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a phone interview Wednesday. Kelman is an associate professor of education and Jewish studies at Stanford.
Using three of the most comprehensive surveys that did ask about race and ethnicity, the researchers said they could roughly estimate that 12-15 percent of American Jews are people of color.
The surveys used to come up with the estimate — the American Jewish Population Project, or AJPP, and community surveys done in New York in 2011 and San Francisco in 2017 — found a range of 10-14 percent Jews of color. The three surveys included data on people who self-identify as nonwhite, mixed race or Hispanic. The AJPP counted about 11 percent of Jews in this category.
Since the researchers posit that surveys have undercounted Jews of color, they estimate the slightly higher range of 12-15 percent. Kelman said it is crucial to keep in mind that the data used to arrive at that number is problematic.
“We offer population estimates based on data that was gathered inconsistently, so they should be read, interpreted and shared as we wrote them, which is as estimates,” he said.
The report, which was released earlier this month, was commissioned by the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, an organization that seeks to advance and educate about Jews of color. The report was funded with a $35,600 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency