gearAdult Jewish Learning & Experience

The Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community offers diverse avenues for communal participation. Pittsburgh-area Jews join local, regional, and national membership organizations and attend an array of cultural, educational, and religious events. They volunteer and donate their time to Jewish and non-Jewish causes. Through their participation, they make Jewish friends and strengthen their ties to the local community. This chapter describes the multiple ways in which Pittsburgh-area Jews interact and participate with their local peers and institutions and points to measures that can enhance these connections.

Table 6.1a Household memberships and activities

(% of Jewish households)
 JCC member (dues and no dues)Other organization member (dues and no dues)Other organization (dues)
Overall303221
Engagement
Immersed344532
Connected275437
Involved364232
Holiday13
40
Minimally Involved810
Region
Squirrel Hill404332
Rest of Pittsburgh253021
South Hills292822
North Hills123018
Rest of region62313

Organizations and Activities

 Pittsburgh-area Jews participate in a wide range of Jewish organizations and activities. Three-in-ten households say they currently belong to a Jewish Community Center (JCC) (two-in-ten pay dues), and nearly one-third (32%) of households belong to at least one Jewish organization other than a synagogue or JCC, such as Hadassah or AIPAC (Table 6.1a). Overall, one-fifth (21%) of Jewish households pay dues to a Jewish organization aside from a synagogue or the JCC.

Those in the Connected group are most likely to be members of an organization. Residents of Squirrel Hill and the South Hills are most likely to members of the JCC, followed by residents of the rest of the city of Pittsburgh. A little over one-fifth of residents who have resided in Greater Pittsburgh for at least 10 years pay dues to a Jewish organization other than a synagogue or JCC, compared to about one-in-ten residents who have been in the area fewer than ten years (Table 6.1b). Older adults ages 65 and older are most likely to pay membership dues to a Jewish organization.

Table 6.1b Household memberships and activities

(% of Jewish households)
 JCC member (dues and no dues)Other organization member (dues and no dues)Other organization (dues)
Length of Residence
<10 years252512
10-19 years332920
20+ years263425
Household Structure
Inmarried334430
Intermarried20148
Single adult(s)253325
Household has child(ren)411611
No children243525
Respondent Age
18-34372921
35-49301710
50-64142112
65+294938
Synagogue
Member315441
Non-member242517
Denomination
Orthodox354233
Conservative203726
Reform274430
Other162819
None292015

Families with children are more likely to be members of the JCC than households without children, but less likely to be members of other Jewish organizations. Community members between the ages of 50 and 64 are less likely than other age groups to belong to the JCC.

Nearly half (45%) of Jews in Greater Pittsburgh attended a program or event within the past year, with 11% doing so at least monthly, and 34% doing so less than monthly (Table 6.2a). Seven-in-ten (68%) read a Jewish organization’s materials in the past year, with 36% doing so at least monthly, and 32% doing so less than monthly. Those in the Immersed and Connected groups are most likely to pay dues, attend programs, and read organizations’ materials. The Involved group is distinguished from the remaining engagement groups by the moderate level of participation in the community across these items.

Residents of Squirrel Hill attend Jewish programs more frequently than residents of other neighborhoods, likely because most of the programs are hosted by institutions in the neighborhood. In turn, because programs are more accessible to residents of Squirrel Hill, it is likely that they read materials from Jewish organizations more frequently due to their connections with those organizations.

Table 6.2a Organizational participation in past year

(% of Jewish adults)
 Attend program Monthly+Attend program Read materials Monthly+Read materials
Overall11343632
Engagement
Immersed37397917
Connected11535433
Involved7383558
Holiday0<100
Minimally Involved2305
Region
Squirrel Hill19414928
Rest of Pittsburgh14404527
South Hills7232532
North Hills4253336
Rest of region3242933

Sixty percent of newcomers have attended programs in the Jewish community in the past year, and they are among the most frequent attendees as well., but younger adults, especially those ages 18- 34, attend programs most frequently (Table 6.2b).

Table 6.2b Organizational participation in past year

(% of Jewish adults)
 Attend program monthly+Attend program Read materials monthly+Read materials
Length of Residence
<10 years23373926
10-19 years19344334
20+ years8333930
Household Structure
Inmarried14445131
Intermarried13223125
Single adult(s)8262932
Household has child(ren)12383524
No children12334131
Respondent Age
18-3418293830
35-4911344028
50-6410323825
65+10404434
Synagogue
Member18496224
Non-member8252733
Denomination
Orthodox22407718
Conservative 19335122
Reform10434035
Other9454520
None6212134

 

  • Types of Israel Travel

    Among those who have traveled to Israel, about one-third (32%) have gone with a Jewish organization on a mission or other sponsored trip, and three-in-ten (28%) have traveled on an educational or volunteer program. Two-fifths (40%) of those under age 46 who have traveled to Israel have gone on Birthright Israel trips, representing 9% of the overall adult population.

    Table 7.2a Types of Israel travel

     Birthright (under 46-years-old)Education/volunteerFederation/org. mission
    Overall402832
    Engagement
    Immersed484335
    Connected561850
    Involved241121
    Holiday453916
    Minimally Involved-1422
    Region
    Squirrel Hill553130
    Rest of Pittsburgh612240
    South Hills162921
    North Hills152339
    Rest of region11644

    Table 7.2b Types of Israel travel

    (% of Jewish adults who have been to Israel)
     Birthright (under 40-years-old)Education/volunteerFederation/org. mission
    Length of Residence
    <10years692028
    10-19 years553127
    20+ years182536
    Household Structure
    Inmarried502245
    Intermarried591524
    Single adult(s)313421
    Household with child(ren)402738
    No child(ren)452433
    Respondent Age
    18-34512619
    35-49172647
    50-64n/a2940
    65+n/a1837
    Synagogue
    Member443245
    Non-member431924
    Denomination
    Orthodox185420
    Conservative 572937
    Reform571747
    Other512931
    None311521

    Since 2010, there has been a steady increase in the number of Birthright Israel participants from Pittsburgh. The number peaked in 2014 at 386.

    Birthright 2016