407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org


As we come to the end of the summer and prepare for school to begin in less than 2 weeks, it’s a great opportunity to take a step back and reflect. As I do that this week, I find myself reviewing the preliminary results of our 2020-21 Orlando Jewish Community Study. In 2020, the Federation engaged the Cohen Center for Modern Judaism at Brandeis University to do this study on behalf of our entire community. The study belongs to the community and is the type of work the Federation does on behalf of the entire Orlando Jewish community. As many of you know, the study went out to the community in early 2021 and we are excited to prepare to share the results in public forums in November or December of 2021 with everybody.

The preliminary information shows some truly fascinating information. Our community is much larger than we expected, with more than 50,000 Jews living in the Orlando area (Orange and Seminole Counties and small parts of Osceola, Lake, and Volusia counties). In addition, while Winter Park, Maitland, and Altamonte Springs is the core area for Jewish agencies, more than ¾ of our community live at least 20 minutes away with most living 30-45 minutes away. This creates amazing challenges and opportunities for us. It is going to take all of us together to address them.

In addition, the Cohen Center broke down the way Jews in Orlando engage Jewishly into 5 categories. These categories are Personal, Familial, Holiday, Involved, and Immersed. They are defined as:

Personal – Participates primarily in Jewish activities that can be done individually.  Less active in communal and ritual activities.  This was the largest group.

Familial – Participates in family and home-based dimensions of Jewish life.  This was very close to the same percentage as personal.

Holiday – Participates in communal activities such as holidays.

Involved – Participates in most aspects of Jewish life at a moderate level.

Immersed – Participates in all aspects of Jewish life.  This was by far the smallest group.

Personal, Familial, and Holiday represents more than ¾ of how Jews in Orlando engage. As we plan for the future, this is critical information for everybody in our community.

This study, a significant effort by the Federation, is filled with much more information and actionable data.  I am so excited to share it in the near future and work with the many agencies, organizations, and synagogues in Orlando on how to best use it to grow engagement in Jewish life and make our community even better.

To hear more from the study and what the future holds, please plan on attending the Federation’s annual meeting on Thursday August 26th from 7-8 pm. You can register here.

Shabbat Shalom,