Isaac Sasson

Commentary on Measuring Jewish Identity in Population Surveys published in Contemporary Jewry

Measuring Jewish identity in population surveys is challenging. In most countries Jews are a small minority group, which requires wide canvassing efforts to collect sufficiently large representative samples. Moreover, Jewish identity reflects a mixture of religion, ancestry, and culture, which make it difficult for analysts to decide who to include or exclude from their estimates. For example, people may identify as Jewish even if they do not follow religious practices, and consider themselves agnostic or atheist.

How should demographers conceptualize Jewish identity in population surveys and how should they measure it? In a commentary in Contemporary Jewry, I propose several lessons for measuring Jewish identity based on current practices for racial and ethnic categorization in population censuses.