Survey of the Jewish Population in Moldova

This report presents findings from a needs assessment survey of the Jewish population of Moldova. The survey was initiated by the leadership of the Jewish community of Moldova and JDC-FSU Division as part of a strategic planning effort aimed at community development and the renewal of Jewish life. Development of a strategic plan for the Jewish community, and the use of a population survey as a basis for planning, constitute a new and innovative approach to the development of Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union.

The survey was conducted by the JDC-Brookdale Institute in cooperation with the Jewish community in Moldova, the Ziv Institute, and the St. Petersburg Training Institute for Communal and Welfare Workers. The purpose of the survey was to learn about the profile of Moldova’s Jewry in terms of its socio-demographic characteristics, the components of its Jewish identity, its use of services provided by the Jewish community, and expectations and needs. Data were collected from a random sample of households in which one Jewish adult was interviewed. The sample included 791 adult respondents representing persons living in 3,941 households with 9,240 family members residing in three cities in Moldova: Kishinev, Beltsy and Bendery.

The findings reveal that:

  • The Jewish identity of the population is primarily cultural and ethnic and not religious.
  • The population studied has a very strong interest in links with all forms of Jewish activities as expressed in its current participation and in its interest in greater participation.
  • There is a large group of families in which the spouses consider themselves non-Jewish. Yet, the respondents in these households do not seem to be significantly less interested in Jewish activities and community participation.
  • There is significant interest in activities focused on Israel and the Hebrew language among all age groups and especially among the younger respondents.
  • A high percentage (77%) of the respondents reported that their current income is not sufficient to cover their most basic needs.
  • A high percentage (71%) of households use Jewish social-medical services and about half use Jewish educational and cultural services.
  • Familiarity with the diversity of activities provided in the community is low. Even respondents who use various community services are often unaware of many other services available in the community.

Based on the findings, the report identifies some of the key issues for planning, including:

  • How can the community best expand the information available to the Jewish population about communal services and activities?
  • How can the community best give consideration to diversity in the needs and attitudes to Jewish life among different sub-groups within the Jewish population in planning its services and activities?
  • How can meaningful opportunities for Jewish education be best made available for those with a less religious perspective? Are there adequate opportunities for Jews with more religious interests?
  • How can the community best address the unique needs of mixed households (with Jewish and non-Jewish spouses) and facilitate their involvement?
  • How can the significant willingness of the middle-aged group to take a more active part in the community be best realized?

The findings of this study have been presented and discussed with the Jewish community leadership in Moldova and have been used by the strategic planning steering committee in the development of its recommendations.