Los Angeles 1959 - The Jewish Population of Los Angeles

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles

Principal Investigator(s): Fred Massarik

Study Dates: 1959

Population Estimates:

391,000 Jewish persons estimated to reside in self-described "Jewish households" in 1959.

Geographic area  included the entire geographic area served by the Jewish Federation-Council, including all parts of Los Angeles City and County,  excluding Pasadena, Long Beach, and the eastern-most parts of the San Gabriel Valley, such as Pomona and  Claremont (also excluding Orange County).

Key Findings:

The 1959 Los Angeles Jewish Population Study was conducted by Fred Massarik, Research Service Bureau, the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.  Interviewing began in 1958 and apparently continued into 1959.

A total of 391,000 Jewish persons was estimated to be residing in these households which self-defined as "Jewish."  Comparisons to the 1951 Los Angeles report are made throughout the text.

Data presented include summaries of geographic areas of residence, age, marital status, mobility and plans to move, home ownership, employment status, occupation and industry, education, income and self-defined economic status (64% "middle class"), nativity and languages spoken, etc.

"Jewish" life variables included ritual identification (35% Conservative, 29% Reform, 13% Orthodox, 22% "non-identifying"), religious service attendance (30% never, 35% high holidays only, 4% weekly or more often), ritual practice (regular participation: Seder 66%, Chanukah candles 57%, Shabbat candles 29%), congregation membership (34% up from 1951 estimate of 24%),  the low percentage of children who attend public school on Yom Kippur (87% never attend), intermarriage (6%, but only if self-define household as Jewish), and the Jewish education of children (as well as the respondent's view of the necessity of Jewish education).

Anti-Semitism was also explored (see page 37 of report, page 42 of PDF for a clear table) in the 1959 study,  Anti-Semitism was seen as a serious or extremely serious problem by 26% of teens and young adults, 36% of adults and 46% of the "aged" -  numbers that are sharply lower than the 1951 reported 51%, 54% and 50% respectively.




Just under 1,200 Interviews conducted in households of Jewish respondent with an average interview length of approximately one hour.  Brief methodological discussion in the report in the Introduction section. 

Study Notes:

PDF from report in library collection was graciously sent to DataBank for inclusion by Sara Smith, NYU doctoral student.  The DataBank processed the PDF to make sure it is searchable for users interested in specific topics. 

Like many of the PDF's that the DataBank has archived in its effort to expand its Legacy holdings, the PDF is imperfect, but it is a readable, historically interesting document which expands the publicly available data on the Los Angeles Jewish community.  The DataBank apologizes for any inconvenience when users access the PDF, but views the PDF as significant historically and a welcome addition to its archive.

Language: English


Survey Reports

» A Report on the Jewish Population of Los Angeles, 1959

Bookmark and Share