This past fall, the Berman Jewish DataBank, sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America, reported the results of its 2019 population survey, estimating 45,935 Jews lived in North Carolina. Now the Brandeis University American Jewish Population Project has upped the ante, finding 104,100 Jews in the state in 2020.
Which is it? So how many Jews live in North Carolina?
Well, the varying results doubtlessly reflect differing methodologies. The Berman Jewish DataBank is an “aggregation of local estimates,” three-quarters of which are scientific, as well as census data, informants, and the internet. The Brandeis study employs “data synthesis of nationally representative surveys.”
The Brandeis data also give low and high estimates, placing North Carolina’s Jewish population between 94,400 and 113,300. Moreover, the survey distinguishes “adults who identify their religion as Jewish.” By this estimate, there are 61,700 Jews by religion in North Carolina, ranging from 56,000 to 67,200. Increasingly, when surveyed, Jews respond “just Jewish” rather than identify with movement labels like Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, Hasidic, Conservative, or Orthodox.
The data often conflict with a community’s own assessment. The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community self reports 11,000 Jews, but Berman lists 7,500 and Brandeis 13,900. On the other hand, the Brandeis report of 1,200 Jews in Winston-Salem fits the community’s own estimate between 1,000-1,500.
Berman lists 12,000 Jews in Charlotte; Brandeis finds 21,100. Moreover, the Brandeis survey adds 5,600 in Greater Charlotte’s eastern counties and 3,200 in the western. Other contrasts between the Berman and Brandeis estimates include Raleigh-Cary, 15,000 to 18,100, and the Asheville area, 4,235 (2010) to 7,900.
So how many Jews life in North Carolina? Perhaps the one consensus is that the Jewish population here is rapidly growing, by the thousands.
To learn more, check the websites https://ajpp.brandeis.edu/https://ajpp.brandeis.edu/ and https://www.jewishdatabank.org/databank/about/about.html. The Brandeis Jewish DataBank includes an interactive map that allows the viewer to pinpoint a specific city or area.