On March 12th, Professor Robert Brym, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, along with Rhonda Lenton of York University and the Environics Institute for Survey Research released a report of findings from their recent survey of the Canadian Jewish community. The study surveyed over 2,000 Jews in Canada and asked questions about their identity, beliefs and practices as Jewish people and found, among other things, that the Canadian Jewish community – the second largest community of Jews outside of Israel – is more cohesive than Jewish communities elsewhere, and particularly more cohesive than the Jewish community in the United States. U of T News wrote a piece on the report that we have excerpted here. The full piece is available here and the full report is available on the Environics website. More coverage of the report available at the Times of Israel and Canadian Jewish News. Brym and his co-investigators also discussed the findings of their survey in a later piece on Canadian Jewish News here.
Unprecedented survey of Jews in Canada finds ‘exceptional cohesion,’ highlights paths for programming and education
In a few years, Canada’s Jewish population may exceed 400,000, making it the largest Jewish community outside of Israel and the United States.
And yet, the Canadian Jewish community is one of the least studied in the world – until now.
A new survey published today captures the identity, priorities, attitudes and values of Jews across Canada, and the results show a remarkably cohesive community overall, albeit one with its own internal divisions and associations between culture, religion and politics.
Conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with Robert Brym, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science, and Professor Rhonda Lenton, a sociologist who is president and vice-chancellor of York University, the study surveyed a representative sample of 2,335 Jews in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver, where 84 per cent of Canada’s Jews live.
Among many other things, “the survey indicates the general orientation that respondents have toward being Jewish – what they consider essential or important to being Jewish,” says Brym.
A copy of the 92-page report on the survey is available on the Environics Institute website.
The survey asked respondents to answer questions about participation in Jewish cultural traditions, belief in God or a universal spirit, marriage and the upbringing of children, prevalence of discrimination and harassment, political ideologies, association with Israel, participation in Jewish education, connection to local Jewish communities, knowledge of Hebrew and more.
Community is close-knit
A key finding of the survey is that the Canadian Jewish community is exceptionally cohesive compared to other Jewish communities outside of Israel.
“More secularized elements of Jewish communities are assimilating to the cultures of their country of residence at a fairly rapid rate,” says Brym. “The Canadian data suggests there is a vibrant community here that’s retained its cohesion pretty remarkably, much more so than in the U.S. or Russia, for example.”