For the first time in over ten years a new effort is underway to map and describe the new initiatives helping shape 21st century Jewish life. While thousands of new Jewish initiatives have been created around the world, there remains a data vacuum when it comes to understanding and describing this ecosystem. Accurate information about the Jewish community—and the organizations that serve it—is critical to understanding how best to chart a course for the future.

The Survey of Contemporary Jewish Initiatives

The SCJI is the long-awaited follow up to Jumpstart’s breakthrough studies that resulted in the Innovation Ecosystem (2009) and Innovation Economy (2011) reports. Analysis of the survey data will lead to key findings a written report, along with consideration of how the information best might be presented visually to support the findings and assessments. The final report will present actionable data about Jewish initiatives, both those that are independent and those that are being launched inside larger, legacy organizations.

Who is behind the 2022 SCJI?

The SCJI is a Jumpstart Labs project in partnership with Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network. The study builds on complementary original research previously pursued independently by both organizations (and others). This research seeks to bolster our common missions while providing data and analysis for the broader Jewish community to better understand, and hopefully better support, the work of these new communities. Check out and to learn more about our organizations and their missions.

What are “contemporary initiatives”?

For the purposes of this inquiry, we’re defining “contemporary” as founded in the 21st century. Thousands of new Jewish organizations and projects have been created globally since the year 2000. By “initiative” we mean a project, an independent organization, or an independent program within an existing organization. Some are nonprofit corporations/NGOs, some are unincorporated entities, and some are under the aegis of larger organizations, either as fiscally sponsored projects or as quasi-independent subsidiaries. To qualify for the 2022 SCJI, an initiative has to have autonomous budget, fundraising, and spending authority/responsibility.

What are you trying to learn?

We’re interested in learning more about how 21st initiatives are thinking about their work, what their strengths and challenges are, and who is leading them. The 2008 Survey focused on what came to be called “The Great Recession” and the 2010 Survey included a special module on the people who found and lead Jewish startup initiatives. The 2022 Survey seeks current information about the emerging communal landscape, the after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, its organizational and programmatic consequences, as well the people leading new Jewish initiatives during this challenging period.

Who is supposed to take the survey?

Respondents are the top professional (such as executive director or CEO) at each initiative, or the head volunteer (such as board chair) if the initiative is all volunteer led. Each initiative can only take the survey once, so it’s important that the person in charge is the one taking it. If you are that person at a 21st century Jewish initiative, or want to nominate someone who is, please do so here.

How is this research different from other recent surveys like PEW, etc.?

Unlike many studies of the Jewish community which target individuals – either consumers or professionals – the unit of analysis for this survey is not a person, but an organization. While we do ask some questions about the leaders, the focus is on understanding the initiatives – and the ecosystem within which they operate. Jewish research frequently focuses on the consumers, this research focuses on the providers.

How long does it take to complete the survey?

We estimate it will take approximately 25 minutes to complete the questionnaire, provided the respondent has ready access to information about their initiative’s operations and programs (which is why respondents need to be the top leader at their initiative). Respondents may start and stop the questionnaire at any time and return to complete it; however, they must use the same link from the original email invitation each time.

Why are you doing this now? What’s your timeline for completing this survey?

As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, it’s good to assess where we’ve been and where we’re going so we can work together toward achieving our goals as a Jewish community. Information gathering during 2022 and data management and data analysis will occur fall 2022 with a projected publication date of the close of 2022.

Will you sell my data to other organizations?

Absolutely not.

How do you define a Jewish initiative?

Expansively. If your initiative serves the Jewish community, serves as a bridge between the Jewish community and others, is founded on Jewish principles and values, or includes Jewish content, it qualifies.

What is Jumpstart’s and Kenissa‘s agenda in pursuing this research?

We have no agenda other than learning about an underexamined sector of the Jewish communal landscape. Our goal is to map and describe the ecosystem, and to try and understand it better in order to translate learning to the broader Jewish communal world, and the social benefit world at large.

How will the data be used?

The data gathered in the SCJI will only be used by the researchers for analysis, findings, and recommendations. All the information gathered is anonymous and only reported in the aggregate.

Why should an initiative participate in the SCJI?

Despite the creativity boom that has fueled Jewish social innovation over the past couple decades, the landscape of 21st century Jewish initiatives is largely unmapped, and thus is still invisible to the mainstream Jewish world, and especially to Jewish funders. We need to shine a spotlight on all that innovation, which will help get those innovators the resources they need to do their work. By participating in this study, leaders of contemporary Jewish initiatives will increase their visibility within the Jewish community among other organizations and with funders, and increase inclusion of their organizational voices in the larger contemporary Jewish conversation.

Who will benefit from the data and its analysis?

Anyone concerned with the future of Jewish life has a stake in gathering and understanding this information.

  • Resource providers and capacity builders: Those in institutional Jewish communal leadership roles will become more knowledgeable about the increasingly diverse and burgeoning array of offerings. Understanding the landscape of contemporary Jewish organizations, documenting how they do business, and getting a window into the mindsets of their leaders is essential to planning the Jewish future.
  • Funders: Individual Jewish philanthropists, foundations and other sources of Jewish communal support will expand their knowledge of these new organizations, explore the new expansive directions they represent, and have the opportunity to consider them for new and existing funding opportunities.
  • Communal professionals: Leaders and staff in Jewish organizations will have a clearer portrait of emerging trends and sources for creative thinking, as many of the initiatives in the innovation ecosystem are a laboratory and leading indicator for the Jewish future.
  • Academics and evaluators: Researchers will have fresh data on how contemporary Jewish initiatives have changed over the past ten yeas, how they are grappling with the effects of the pandemic, and who is leading these organizations during this challenging period.

Any other questions?

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