Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Judaism By The Numbers

QUESTION POSED AT THE JTS LIBRARY REFERENCE DESK: I am looking for statistics on the various branches (sects) of Judaism. For example what percentage of Jews are Sephardic.

ANSWER: There are city-by-city (USA) statistics of the various Jewish denominations in the 2007 American Jewish Yearbook (p. 201)

I would also suggest you look at the Populations Studies section of the North American Jewish Databank website: In the 2000/01 Population Study, see the report on American Jewish Religious Denominations:, especially Table 1 (denominations – weighted populations estimates) and Table 2 (denominations – percentages) will give you USA data.

In the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) please check Study Highlights Part 2,
Part 3 (Jewish Identity), especially Tables 22 (current denominational preferences) and 29 (synagogue affiliation) will give you information on the denominations in the USA.

The Encyclopedia Judaica’s (2nd ed., 2007) article on "Demography", in the section entitled "Origin Groups", provides some statistics about Sephardim in 1930 and 2000 and what parts of the world they are living in today.

The Jewish Encyclopedia’s (1906) article on “Statistics” provides data about Sephardim, country by country, on page 533. .

The genealogical website , provides some historical statistics about Sephardim (from RUFINA-RUFINA@NETACTIVE.CO.ZA )

Finally, there is a detailed presentation of Hasidic population statistics in the US in Joshua Comenetz’s article “Census-Based Estimation of the Hasidic Jewish Population” in Contemporary Jewry volume 26 (2006) p. 35-47.


  1. The word "sect" in the question is a little bit troubling. Sects are groups that break away from a mainstream, and that doesn't seem to be what is being questioned here. What kind of group are we looking at--religious rite? region of origin? denomination? I think the questioner needs to be helped to refine the question.

  2. there is now also the PEW study available online somewhere