Historic new research survey of Canadian Jews points to growing, diverse and cohesive community

Tuesday, March 12 marked the release of a major new survey that for the first time provided a comprehensive portrait of what it means to be Jewish in Canada. The findings touched on areas such as identity, practices and experiences.

This survey is benchmarked against comparable research in the United States and shows that Canadian Jews as a whole are distinct from their American counterparts in being more connected to Jewish life, through education, membership in Jewish organizations, friendships and connections to Israel.


Above: From left, Event moderator Steve Paikin (LLD ’17), 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada collaborators Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute for Survey Research, York University President and Vice-Chancellor and sociology Professor Rhonda L. Lenton and University of Toronto sociology Professor and S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology Robert Robert Brym

Robert Brym, professor and S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Rhonda L. Lenton, professor of Sociology and President and Vice-Chancellor, York University, and Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute for Survey Research, have collaborated to develop and analyze the findings of the historic 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada.

“Knowing how Canadian Jews define their Jewishness and what they need and want from Jewish organizations can help shape community policy and programming. The Canadian Jewish community is substantially more cohesive than its American counterpart, and the kind of knowledge the survey provides can help keep the community strong. I’m proud to bring this important work forward, both personally and as a sociologist,” said Brym.

Above: From left, Keith Neuman, Rhonda L. Lenton and Robert Brym

“The historic nature of this research marks the beginning of a better understanding of how our community practices our faith, engages within families and with others, and how each of us shapes our cultural identity,” said Lenton. “I see a positive common thread of Canada’s success in embracing people from around the world while supporting and encouraging cultural and religious differences.”

“This study provides a powerful example of how survey research can be used to provide a valuable portrait of Canada’s Jewish community that is both enlightening to all and practical in guiding the organizations working to support this community,” added Neuman.

The research team worked closely with regional survey partners, including; the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, Federation CJA (Montreal), and the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal.

“For more than 100 years, UJA Federation has used research and data to take a big picture view of our community’s largest and most pressing issues. This incredibly comprehensive study will help to inform our strategic investments in the community, so we are extremely proud to have supported this significant work,” said Adam Minsky, president and CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

The survey was conducted by telephone and online between February and September 2018 with a representative sample of 2,335 Canadians (ages 18 and over) who identify as Jewish or part Jewish. The survey focused on the Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver metropolitan areas, which together account for more than 80 percent of the country’s Jewish population.