The 2002 Rhode Island Jewish Community Study has given us all a new view on Jewish Rhode Island. This comprehensive report vividly illustrates the potential of our community and the challenges we face.
Rhode Island's Jewish population is approximately 18,500 Jews in 9,550 households, a slight decline from 1994, but still higher than the ballpark 17,000 figure which had been used for years. However, 23,000 individuals live in these households, meaning that 20 percent of those people living in Jewish households are not Jewish.The highest concentration of Jews in the state is in the ‘core': the Providence/Pawtucket area, followed by the ‘West Bay' area of Warwick, Cranston and East Greenwich.
However, while still comprising 72 percent of Jewish households in R.I. (defined as a house containing at least one Jewish adult), the Providence / West Bay population is decreasing, while areas in South County, Newport County, Northern Rhode Island and the "East Bay" area of Barrington, Bristol and Warren are seeing an increase in population. The South County area, including everything south of North Kingstown, but not including Aquidneck Island/Newport County, has grown in size to become the third largest concentration of Jews in the State at 10 percent.
These findings were recently released in the 2002 Rhode Island Community Study, a demographic report funded by the Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island.
Dr. Ira Sheskin, director of the Jewish Demography Project and associate professor at the University of Miami, conducted more than 30 Jewish community studies across the United States, and presented the findings publicly for the first time at the JFRI annual meeting May 13. The study, which has been presented to agency boards, rabbis, educators and other members of the community, will be used in numerous community planning projects.