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Jewish Identity in the South Bay

August 01, 1985

I have just returned from vacation and read the article that appeared in the July 14 South Bay section entitled "Jewish Identity: Group Fears the Loss of Community, Hopes to Bring Families Back to Fold."

I wanted to add several items for clarification that might give your readers a more comprehensive understanding of the issues raised in the article.

The article cites properly the statistic that only 20% of the Jews in the southern region were affiliated with one of seven synagogues. Although the 20% rate of synagogue affiliation is of great concern to us in the southern region, it does not differ significantly from the overall rate of synagogue affiliation in Los Angeles of 27%.

The figure of 75% of our population not belonging to any Jewish organization is accurate, but does not differ at all from the rate of organizational affiliation in the rest of Los Angeles.

Lisa Kalson's comment, "The more affluent you are, the less likely you are to affiliate" is an unfortunate gross over-generalization that is not borne out by the facts. Although the median income of the southern region population is 15% higher than the rest of the Jews of Los Angeles, their affiliation rate with synagogues and organizational membership is not significantly different from the general Jewish community of Los Angeles.

A statistic that was not cited in your article that is an important finding of our 1979 study indicates that giving patterns in the southern region are similar to the rest of Los Angeles. About two-thirds of southern region Jews give to some Jewish organization and 55% report giving to the Jewish Federation Council.

I would disagree with a professional colleague and friend quoted in this article that our report was solely published to raise money for the federation's annual campaign.

Our report was published to clearly articulate problems and social service needs faced by the southern region Jewish population. Our committee was broad-based in its construct and included every Jewish organization in the community that we could identify. All who served on the committee felt that the process contributed a great deal to community harmony and understanding. We hope by articulating the needs of the southern region community in our report, additional members of the Jewish community will want to join us in our effort to bring an enhanced quality of life to this area of Los Angeles County.

WILLIAM S. BERNSTEIN

Regional Director, Southern Region,

Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles

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