The aim of this activity is to examine demographic trends within the community and consider their implications.

  • Divide the group up into a number of subgroups. Do not make the groups too small. Each subgroup represents a Jewish demographic institute that has been asked to make a presentation for the annual Conference of the National Jewish Demography Association. Given each group the following questions. Alternatively, you can divide up the questions and have the students come back together and pool their findings before the next stage of the activity in which they will work in separate groups.


    1. What is the most accurate estimate that you can find for the number of Jews in the current Jewish community (i.e. the town in which the school is situated)? How have those numbers changed since the beginning of the twentieth century? Offer at least three population estimates for different periods before the present.

    2. What is the demographic background of the community? How many of the Jews in the community trace themselves back to different countries in the last two generations, and how many of the current community are themselves immigrants?

    3. Are there any key historical circumstances in the twentieth century that affected the flow of immigrants into or out of the Jewish community?

    4. What occupations do the Jews hold now? How has that changed over the past century?

    5. What trends do you foresee in the next twenty years and the next century in your Jewish community? Do you see these trends as desirable or undesirable? If you see the trends as undesirable, can you come up with some suggestions for changing or reversing them?

  • Each group should prepare a short presentation, including visual charts, that indicates their discoveries and assessments. If they have previously worked in smaller groups, they should now come back and pool their results prior to preparing a joint presentation. They should make these presentations at a meeting of the Conference under the title “Five [or whatever number] assessments of the community of ...”
  • Draw things together by summing up the most significant findings and discussing the students’ forecasts for future demographic trends within the community.




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10 Dec 2006 / 19 Kislev 5767 0