Demographic Study of Denver/Boulder Jewish Community Released

The study depicts a diverse Jewish community in the Greater Denver region.

Denver, CO – The Greater Denver Jewish Community Study: A portrait of Jewish life in the seven-county region, was released this week. The study’s results offer insights into the perspectives and needs of increasingly diverse Jewish communities and serve as a valuable data source for Jewish community organizations in the metro Denver/Boulder region.

Over 2,500 Jewish households in the Greater Denver area participated in the survey, which provides an in-depth look at the area’s Jewish population, demographic composition, philanthropy and volunteering practices, community engagement levels, connection to Jewish life and more. The results will enable local organizations and funders to better understand and meet the needs of the Jewish community, including households with partners or other members who do not identify as Jewish.

“The study’s results both challenge our preconceptions about Jewish life in the Greater Denver area and affirm the ongoing efforts of Jewish organizations in the region,” said Vanessa Bernier, Rose Community Foundation’s program officer for Jewish Life. “We hope local institutions and the community at-large will utilize these findings to best serve our diverse Jewish community.”

The data dispel the notion that the Jewish community is monolithic, instead portraying a Jewish population that encompasses a broad spectrum of experiences and perspectives. The philanthropic habits, denominational plurality and community engagement levels of the 90,800 Jewish people in the Greater Denver area reflect this diversity. As such, these findings suggest the need for nuance and thoughtfulness when engaging with, speaking about and working in service to the Jewish community.

“Though the study’s results offer a detailed and thorough depiction of the Greater Denver Jewish community, it is important to remember that these data do not exist in a vacuum; rather, they are one of many tools that may be used to guide and inform how to best engage, represent and serve the region’s Jewish population,” said Bernier, who led the second phase of the study to its successful conclusion.

The full study and methodology are available publicly on Rose Community Foundation’s website.

Previous metro Denver/Boulder Jewish Community Studies were conducted in 2007 and 1997. Nationally, these studies are typically conducted every 10 years, especially in rapidly growing areas like metro Denver from 2010 to 2018. With that in mind, though the 2019 study reliably depicts this moment in time, it is not predictive of future trends.

The 2019 study was conducted by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) at Brandeis University. The study’s authors are Dr. Janet Krasner Aronson, Matthew A. Brookner, Eliana Chapman, Harry Aaronson, Matthew Feinberg, Prof, Matthew Boxer, and Prof. Leonard Saxe. Fran Simon, president and founder of Simon Analytics, Inc., provided ongoing assistance with the study.

The study’s research design utilized a dual-mode internet and telephone survey to reach residents of the Greater Denver area. The sample was drawn randomly from the combined mailing lists of local Jewish organizations as well as a purchased listed of local households. To ensure complete coverage and correct for sampling bias, CMJS researchers matched the results to population estimates derived from the American Jewish Population Project synthesis of random digit dialing and address-based sampling surveys as well as administrative data from local organizations.

The Greater Denver Jewish Community Study: A portrait of Jewish life in the seven-county region was funded with support from Rose Community Foundation, the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Colorado and the Sturm Family Foundation.

The project design was developed with guidance from advisory committee members Judy Altenberg, Josh Gold, Rob Klugman, Dr. Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz, Julie Shaffer, Dr. David Shneer, Rabbi Jay Strear and Emily Sturm. Early research for the study began in 2017 and was led by Bruce Phillips, Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, and Dan Lainer-Vos, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Shere Kahn was the project manager for the first phase of work, in partnership with Lisa Farber Miller, who oversaw it in her former role as Rose Community Foundation’s senior program officer for Jewish Life. The study was made possible by the Jewish community members who gave their time to participate in this project.

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About Rose Community Foundation

Rose Community Foundation strives to enhance the quality of life of the Greater Denver community through leadership, grantmaking and donor engagement – stewarding philanthropic resources and investing in strategic and innovative solutions to enduring challenges and emerging issues. Since its founding in 1995, the Foundation has facilitated nearly $40 million in grants from its donors to a variety of nonprofit organizations while additionally granting more than $253 million to organizations and initiatives primarily focused on Aging, Child and Family Development, Education, Health and Jewish Life in seven-county Greater Denver—recently adding a cross-programmatic community action overlay of support for nonprofit organizations serving immigrants, refugees and communities vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes. The Foundation has $308 million in total assets under management, with annual grantmaking of nearly $25 million.

About The Sturm Family Foundation

The Sturm Family Foundation was founded in 2000 by ANB Bank owners Donald and Susan Sturm. Their children, Stephen Sturm and Emily Sturm, are currently co-managing directors of the foundation and oversee the family’s philanthropic portfolio, which includes the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, Judaism Your Way, Arapahoe Community College and the Denver Art Museum, among others.

About The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation

In 1944, Jay and Rose Phillips created a philanthropic foundation so their longstanding practice of giving back to the community could continue far into the future. The mission of The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation is to honor the legacy of its founders by supporting efforts that address the unmet human and social needs of individuals, families, and communities that have the least access to resources.

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