The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is offering the chance to win an iPad tablet computer in an effort to entice constituents into responding to an online poll aimed at determining which communal services to prioritize.
The federation, which services a number of large Jewish communities, including Teaneck, Fair Lawn and Englewood, asked visitors to its website to help it “figure out how to meet the challenges of the next decade” by filling out the survey and entering a raffle for the iPad.
The poll, being conducted by the Melior Group, is being supplemented by direct mailings and random phone calls intended to provide the federation with a deeper understanding of the needs of those it serves, Federation CEO Jason M. Shames told The Jerusalem Post.
There has been some criticism of the study’s methodology by Jewish social scientists due to local media reports that seemed to indicate it was being conducted solely online. Most “would agree that an opt-in survey, online with incentives, would provide a very distorted view of the Jewish population,” one sociologist said based on such reports. It appeals to people that are already Jewishly connected, and people who have facilities with the Internet.”
But seeking the opinions of those already engaged with the federation and organized communities is the point, Shames explained, stating that the main focus was to see what those participating in the community were interested in, although he added that getting feedback from those who were unaffiliated would be welcomed as well.
After taking over the federation several years ago, Shames said, it became apparent to him that “we didn’t have very good data with which to plan for the community.”
“We had a rough sense of the general demographic data,” he continued.
“We lacked any sort of understanding what it was that made our community tick, what their interests were in terms of programs and services, and what it was that intrigued them philanthropically,” he explained.
“We are setting out to do something different from what most communities have done [in] that we are not doing a demographic study; we are doing what we are calling a marketing study. Yes, we are going to get some general demographic information, but more importantly we are trying to get a better understanding of what it is that our community wants in terms of its Jewish content programming, and what is it willing to support.”
Demography has taken center stage in the American Jewish discourse since late least year, when the Pew Research Center released its Survey of Jewish Americans. The findings highlighted growing assimilation and intermarriage among American Jews.