Correction from Maya Bernstein

February 1, 2010
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The opening sentence of my essay in the February Sh’ma, which states that it is 80% more likely that Bay Area Jews will create a Bar or Bat Mitzvah ritual themselves than celebrate it at a synagogue, is NOT factually accurate. I was quoting the well-known 2004 population study which claims that 80% of Jews in the Bay Area are:

a.       Not affiliated with existing institutions
b.      Self-identify as Jewish

In the spirit of the piece I was writing, I took poetic license and made the following generalization: 80% of Bay Area Jews self-identify as Jewish, and therefore may engage in Jewish activities, one of which may be a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and, since they’re not affiliated with existing institutions, including synagogues, may “do Jewish” on their own and design their own ritual. The statement was meant to frame the larger point that I would argue IS accurate – the majority of Jews in the Bay Area are not having their Jewish needs met by existing institutions, and, until recently, have been left to their own devices to either engage or not in meaningful Jewish opportunities. Now, as a result of a surge in new Jewish nonprofits, there is the opportunity for communal opportunities to “do Jewish” in ways that are more resonant and meaningful to the Bay Area’s Jewish population.—Maya Bernstein

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