IMAGINE 2020: Survey reveals a dynamic, diverse and committed community

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

Photo : Stephen Shames (JFNA)

Upon launching Imagine 2020, Federation CJA’s initiative to renew our Jewish community, we invited a dialogue so we could hear from community members, learn about their interests, and gauge opinions. We engaged more than 2,600 people through focus groups, a blog, and the largest attitudinal study ever conducted of a Jewish community in Canada.

Here, we reveal a preliminary sampling of what was found by the survey. Imagine 2020 is a process through which we will ensure that Federation CJA is responsive to the Jewish community and promotes its strength and vitality for the future.

We will report in greater detail at an upcoming Town Hall Meeting.

What we learned from the survey

Montreal Jews enjoy a very high quality of Jewish life. The survey shows that we live in a vibrant community with a wide base of services and a dynamic life. The community is increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse and the traditional definitions of identity are shifting. The Montreal Jewish community has many reasons to be optimistic regarding the future, and we must continue to address challenges that relate to issues of diversity and accessibility in order to remain one of the best places for Jews to live in North America. While we have a strong base of community involvement, there is still room for improvement.

Community affiliation

Our data strongly indicates that a lack of religious affiliation is not a reflection of disinterest in Jewish life. It is our responsibility to reach out and engage people in ways that are meaningful to them.

In our community:

70% have a strong sense of their Jewish Identity.
86% feel accepted in the Jewish community.
60% agree that Jewish organizations are doing exciting things that inspire them
42% participated in a Jewish cultural event over the last year.
38% participated in a Jewish social or recreational event over the last year.
54% have volunteered with a Jewish organization over the last year.

The need for change is evident. We must adapt to changes in behaviour and geographic patterns to better serve the community. We will need to be more inclusive and open to everyone. Our selection of programs and services must be supplemented with new and innovative programs.

25% find Jewish organizations old fashioned and don’t keep up with the times
40% find Jewish Community life too expensive
10% do not participate programs because they live too far from services and activities

We asked, “why do you give to Federation CJA?” the top reasons were:

1. It is my duty to help the Jewish community
2. It helps the vulnerable in our community
3. It helps secure the future of the community
4. It supports the causes I find important
5. It helps Israel
6. I trust CJA to distribute my money fairly

We asked participants, which concerns should the community support financially? All of the areas we fund rated highly. The top areas are:

To what extent do you think of yourself as Jewish?

The survey also found:

  • 82% agree that Israel needs the financial support of Canadians.
  • 16% say visiting Israel had the most impact on their life as a Jew.
  • 75% of Montrealers responding to the survey have visited Israel at least once, the highest level of any Jewish community in North America.
  • Respondents identified Jewish education as being of paramount importance to our community. More than 80% of Montreal Jews have participated in some form of Jewish education.
  • [...] Federation CJA invited community members to participate in a strategic visioning process called Imagine 2020. The process, which included many focus groups and multiple volunteer committees, resulted in the [...]