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Adam Bronstone

Faye Rosenberg-Cohen


by Rhonda Spivak, December 7, 2014







































In a report on the demographics of  our Winnipeg  Jewish community which is running at the bottom of this article, the  Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has revised its estimate of the number of Jews in our community downward from $16,000 to 13, 690.  This is based on 2011 data from the National Household Survey.







Up to now, my understanding of the Federation stats is that the Federation has been estimating that the number of new immigrants who have come in the last decade from 2001 to 2011 is approx. 4000.








Assuming this is the case, that would mean that the native Winnipeg Jewish community (absent the new immigrants) has shrunk by about 2000 people (comparing figures from the 2001 to 2011 National Household Survey). In other words, it seems reasonable to conclude that without the new immigrant population, our Jewish community would have shrunk to under 10,000 people.  In other words, we have a shrinking “native Winnipeg” population, and this ought to impact on future planning, and in particular planning for a merger between synagogues and synagogue membership.(In general, Russian Israeli immigrants have not joined synagogues and for planning purposes I am of the view that it is difficult to assume that they will in the future)







Further,  we have hardly any  orthodox Jews in Winnipeg and studies done in the  United States show the birthrate for non-orthodox Jews is 1.7 % , and that intermarriage  and assimilation is increasing, is it not reasonable to assume that the “native” Winnipeg  Jewish population will go down further in the next ten years. ?







As a result of the Federation’s revised downward assessment of the number of Jews in our community, Winnipeg Jewish Review asked Faye Rosenberg Cohen, Planning and Community Engagement Director and Grow Winnipeg Co-ordinator and Adam Bronstone CEO of Jewish Federation several questions regarding the data.






The questions and their responses are laid out as follows:







WJR Question: The demographic data you have is 4 years old. Leaving aside the question of cost of doing a new demographic study from scratch, could you please outline  whether it would be possible to do a new demographic study and get better data to work with? Who would be able to conduct such a study from scratch?








Response from Faye Rosenberg Cohen: I’m afraid you can’t leave aside the question of cost. At a Planners’ Institute several years ago there was a session on doing demographic studies (American communities don’t have the luxury of getting data from the NHS or Census). They recommended reserving $10,000 per year for 10 years and then adding about $30,000 to have enough to conduct a study. That’s a lot of money to spend in order to have data a little younger than 4 years old. It would, indeed, allow us to ask more questions about Jewish community involvement, but that might cost even more, and still leave us with issues that require some additional investigation.







There are a number of North American specialists as well as local firms that could help. But $130,000 - $150,000 seems a bit prohibitive, given that demographic studies of this scale require a huge investment of volunteer and staff time as well as dollars. They generally take a year to conduct just to confirm trends you probably already knew about, and are snapshots in time that are still about two years old by the time the analysis and reporting are complete.








It would be more cost effective given that we have the NHS and the advantage of a national demographer to interpret it for the Jewish communities of Canada, to make a small investment, use the data we have and do some smaller studies to delve into a few specific issues that arise from the NHS data.








WJR Question: How much will it cost to do these smaller studies to delve into a few specific issues that you have referred to? 







Response by Faye Rosenberg –Cohen: Varies widely based on the techniques and how many people contacted, etc. but not $100.000






WJR Question: But are we talking 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? Could you give me a range of the cost for these smaller studies, please? Will they be under 50,000 for sure or could they amount to 50,000 or more?






Response by Faye Rosenberg –Cohen : I’ve commissioned specific pieces of work that range from $1500 to $20,000, although the larger ones always included gifts in kind from talented researchers who gifted their own time and only actually charged for the work they paid their staff for.





As I said they vary greatly based on the issue and the scope and the researcher.





WJR  also wrote to Adam Bronstone, CEO of the Jewish Federation with further questions:






WJR Question: What is the margin of error for the stat of their being 13, 960 Jews here?




Bronstone responded: Stats Canada does not give us a margin for error.





WJR Question: Of the 13, 960 Jews, how many are new immigrants who have arrived here within the last 5 years? (and what is the margin of error for this # of new immigrants)






Bronstone responded: We are working on a report about this issue and hope to know more in the new year.






WJR:  The issue of cost has been raised in the answers above I received regarding a new demographic study. My concern is that the number of Jews here that Federation has estimated in the past year has undergone several changes-- the estimate from being 16,000 (roughly) is now down to 13,600. Given that, I have been hearing people in the community that have begun to question how reliable any of this data is.



In light of this, has the Federation considered making an application to the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba for $130,000 to do a new complete demographic study from  scratch and get the very best data available.? This could also be potentially intertwined with questions re potential synagogue involvement since the Federation is chairing a planning task force to look at relocating  a merged synagogue on the campus site. 






Response by Bronstone:  First, the data that we have received is reliable. The methodology changed and gave rise to questions about comparability of data, but the trend information still has utility and value. Having said that, we are not know considering a complete demographic study, especially given the questions that the information from these studies present, and how much we still have to study. Further, a full study would not answer the questions pertaining to a proposed merged synagogue. With respect to a proposed merger, polling could be done on this topic by the synagogues that would not require a full demographic study. The Federation’s land use task force being chaired by David Gisser will also poll members of the community with respect to overall land use in the community and this will include the proposed merger of the synagogue.






WJR Question: Has the Federation canvassed beneficiary agencies to see if they have confidence in this new revised number of 13, 600 or whether they feel it would be a good time to make an application to the JFM? If Federation has not done so, why not? 





Bronstone responded: The agencies have received the information and none have come back to me and questioned the veracity of the numbers. We expect to give more detailed presentations of the information to many of the agencies in the near future.






WJR Question: When was the last time that the Federation applied for funds to the Jewish Foundation of  Manitoba  to conduct a demographic related study?





Bronstone responded: The Federation has never done so.






WJR Question: Your demographic report says that the level of child poverty is 20.2%, almost double of 2001. Do you have an explanation of why that is?







Response by Rosenberg-Cohen: No. That is something that requires some further inquiry. The increased number of families living with poverty, both dual parent and single parent, has no specific and obvious cause.








WJR Question: do you have any data as to how that compares with child poverty levels in other Jewish communities in Canada? 







Child poverty in other Jewish communities (children 0 – 14 years):





Kitchener at 7.7%






Halifax, Toronto, London, and Calgary are at about 10%






Edmonton at 12%






Vancouver, Victoria, Hamilton at +or- 14%






Montreal, Windsor and Winnipeg at 20+%





And Regina at almost 24%

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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