November 2012
JData Revealed


Shared Data: JData's Greatest Challenge and Strength
News from JData

Check out the new JData Starter Kit, found in the right-hand column of the About JData page. This guide will teach you how to enter data for your organization and how to extract data from the site by creating reports and running analyses.



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Note from the Director  


The national election was much about the direction of our country and the nature of the American polity. It was also very much about numbers. Campaigns were waged on the basis of numbers and outcomes were determined by them. We watched polls and results by gender, race, income, and state. On election night, CNN showed predictions by county and precinct. We watched as strategists, polling experts, and pundits aggregated and disaggregated the data in an attempt to steer and predict outcomes. The final decision surprised some who did not understand the difference between a survey (i.e., polls based on samples of likely voters) and a census (i.e., a count of all votes cast).  


You can imagine how all this resonated with us at JData. We believe in numbers---- in good data---- that can describe the landscape, inform decision making, and discover areas of strength. We also realize that surveys are important but that a census is invaluable to our understanding of the field. And we appreciate the need to analyze the data by location, denomination, organization type, and the like. JData may not be on CNN, but we are here when you need facts and figures on Jewish education.   


This is the third issue of JData Revealed in which we present the principles that underlie JData. We previously looked at the quantity and quality of the data housed in JData. We discussed the importance and challenge of getting complete, census-like data and of validating the data to assure its trustworthiness. In this issue we look at data privacy issues. We describe what we are doing at JData to assure that data are handled responsibly and we explain what you can do to protect the data your organization has in the system.


As always, our aim is both to inform and to open a conversation about the use of data in support of the Jewish educational system. Please be in touch with your questions or comments: We welcome the conversation.


Amy L. Sales, Ph.D.

Project Director
Senior Research Scientist
Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies   


  Shared Data: JData's Great Challenge and Strength

We sometimes refer to JData as a "revolution." JData's break with tradition lies in the openness and availability of the data to all users. As we like to say, "Everyone gets to put data in and everyone gets to draw data out." This is both JData's great challenge and its great strength.


The challenge is that individual organizations do not always understand how their data are protected. JData has a secure system by which schools and camps control access to their profile forms. Unless they grant access to their local federation, national sponsor, or a privileged individual, only they can see their individual data. When the public accesses the database on the JData Research page, they see results only in the aggregate and without identifying information.


JData's great strength is that it gives all users---- funders, advocates, planners, researchers, and others with a vested interest in Jewish education---- access to census-like information about the field. Read more... 


News from JData 

  • JData is pleased to welcome two new partner communities: Pittsburgh (Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Agency for Jewish Learning) and Cleveland (Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland). 2012-13 data collection is well underway in both communities.  
  • JData has formed a partnership with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Union for Reform Judaism to gather data from the congregational schools and early childhood centers in their respective movements.
  • December 3-4, Amy Sales, JData Project Director, will be in Pittsburgh to help local leaders interpret findings from JData and to give a public lecture on the future of Jewish education. The lecture is part of Pittsburgh's Conversation for a Jewish Future, a speaker series sponsored by the Association for Jewish Learning and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh on the occasion of its centennial.   
  • "Transforming Jewish Educational Organizations into Effective Nonprofits," a research paper based on data in JData, will be presented by Amy Sales at the Association of Jewish Studies conference in Chicago on December 18. 

  • The JData Directory  lists virtually every Jewish school and overnight camp in the United States. Check out the new community search feature, explained here .
  • We've updated the JData Profile Report. Sign in to your JData account to view the profile report for your organization, or view a sample profile report.   

JData is operated by Brandeis University with generous support from the Jim Joseph Foundation 

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JData | Brandeis University

Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies
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Waltham, MA 02453-2728

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