Jewish Students at Ivy League Schools

Penn Jewish Students, Penn Jewish Applicants, Ivy League and Jewish

There’s a trend brewing at some of our nation’s most elite universities, including Penn (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

While we are outspoken about our belief that highly selective colleges, including the Ivy League colleges, discriminate against Asian American applicants in the admissions process, we bristle at the notion that these institutions discriminate through the use of quotas. No Ivy League school — including Harvard — caps the number of Asian American admits at a certain figure. To suggest such is just plain inaccurate and we believe it to be an insult to Jewish American students, students who really did face anti-Semitic quotas in Ivy League admissions many years ago. And while Jewish students no longer face quotas in the admissions process, it may surprise our readers to learn that Jewish student numbers at many of our nation’s elite universities have been on the decline in recent years.

Number of Jewish Students at Ivies Declines

As Shira Telushkin writes in a piece for “Tablet” entitled “The Vanishing Ivy League Jew,” “In 2010, Penn was just under 20 percent Jewish, according to data collected by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute. By 2016, only 13 percent of the campus identified as Jewish by religion, a decrease of over 600 Jewish students. (When including students who claimed only ethnic or cultural affiliation, those numbers jump three percentage points.) And Penn is far from the only Ivy League campus to note a decline.  To take another example, throughout the 2000s, about 20 percent of incoming freshmen at Yale University identified as Jewish, according to data collected by the Yale University Chaplain’s Office. In the 2010s, that number was closer to 16 percent. For the past three years, The Harvard Crimson has reported that about 10 percent of incoming first-year students identified as Jewish, according to their own survey. For the incoming Harvard class of 2020, that number has dropped to 6 percent.”

This decline in the number of Jewish students at these institutions frightens us, particularly on the heels of Charlottesville. We implore every university in America, including each of the eight Ivy League universities, to pay careful attention to these declining numbers, to make every effort to reverse what seems like a very discouraging trend. There is no reason the number of Jewish students should be plunging at our nation’s elite schools. There is no reason high holiday services at Penn should seem so empty in comparison to years past. It’s not a good look for these schools.


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  • Dan Brent says:

    Even at these numbers, Jewish students are still overrepresented at Ivy League schools, relative to the overall percentage of Jews in the US population. This also means that non-Jewish students are still underrepresented at these schools, relative to the US population.

    Are you suggesting that these schools should discriminate against equally or more qualified non-Jewish students, so that Jewish students are even more overrepresented at these schools?

    That’s not very fair.

    There are plenty of other excellent colleges and universities in the US that would be more than happy to admit qualitied Jewish students.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      We are concerned with the declining number of Jewish students at Ivy League colleges. Period. It has nothing to do with the number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools relative to the overall Jewish population in America. If the number of Asian American students at Ivy League colleges began declining, we’d be concerned too. And that would have nothing to do with the number of Asian American students at Ivy League colleges relative to the overall Asian American population in America.

      • E says:

        If there are a fixed number of spots (as there are), to be concerned about the decline of X population is exactly equivalent to objecting to the rise of “not-X” population. This is the poison of targeting proportions of students from any particular ethnic/religious/gender/sexuality/melanin group. It discriminates against some groups and hides it under a blanket of positive intent. By definition.

      • John J McCann says:

        Dear IVY Coach: Your response did not really answer Mr. Brent’s observation.

        Jewish Americans now constitute only about 2% of the U.S. population. The population of Hasidim Jews may be on the increase, but this group that ordinarily goes to college.

        To answer Mr.Brent, you would need to know if the volume of Jewish applications to has declined and/or if the SAT-type scores have declined relative to the competition?

        Thank you.

    • Carl says:

      The same applies to Congress. What do Schilling, Schumer, Nadler and Heiden Pelosi have in common with the MSM ie NBC, MSNBC and H.Weinstein? It’s not a trick question.

  • 452 says:

    The Shira Telushkin piece in Tablet only acknowledged that there are “similar unspoken quotas” or “unofficial” and “informal” ones in place for Asians today (something indisputable if you are familiar with the numbers) as there were for Jews in the earlier decades of the 20th century. In fact, almost no source I have found has ever claimed that the universities in question have admitted to and apologized for having anything more than an “effective quota” for the Jews. Actually, I have mostly found that it has been Jewish academics and historians who have claimed this. Please let us know if you find a bunch of non-Jewish people who was powerful figures in the 20’s and 30’s for the Ivies and similar schools who said outright in autobiographies or interviews or something that they they used exact quotas for Jewish numbers.

    The issue almost seems moot today given that Jews have served as presidents in almost every major university. There are Jewish teachers and professors are overrepresented at every elite high school and college, both public and private. It is not possible to graduate from a public high school worth its salt without reading multiple account of atrocities committed against Jews, even if most of the students are not Jewish, and their grandparents suffered worse atrocities on other continents. In mine we met and spoke with and cried with a Holocaust survivor, and it wasn’t because our grandparents had not suffered equally atrocious but different war crimes. It was because almost all of our lit/history teachers were Jewish and prepared several times over with lesson plans that introduced their history of terrible oppression, whereas other groups were not yet so prepared or represented in the faculty. Jews are so deeply respected and acknowledged and represented in academia today that chances are that anyone important from the last few generations we learn about has a really excellent chance of turning out to be Jewish or like half Jewish or is actually secretly Jewish but has a fake last name because their family had decided to go all-out on assimilation a few generations before. As Telushkin notes, Jews have done so well in the United States that maybe they are simply at a natural point of diminishing collective interest in the Ivy League.

    While it certainly seems to have come out in biographies that there were most likely quotas in place for Jews internally, it does not look like the colleges themselves have ever publicly acknowledged them, at the time or ever after. As Robert Unz has written in multiple places multiple times, ” Indeed, the statistical evidence for a present-day Asian Quota is arguably stronger than that for the notorious Jewish Quota of the Ivies during the 1920s and 1930s, the existence of which was widely denied at the time by university administrators but is now universally accepted.” This is hardly surprising in modern times, given that most Jews of Ashkenazi descent are white-passing in this country, especially if they have chosen to modify their names and faces to mask their identity. It’s just a different time that we are living in, and while the Jews may have been at some point in fairly recent American history the most reviled minority, they are certainly not today in the world of elite admissions. There are people who are more obviously not white (Asians), which may be more offensive to bigots than Jewish people are. That does not mean they like Jewish people as much as their own, probably, but that they find them far less offensive to be around than Asians.

    Even if schools had admitted to intentionally limiting Jewish numbers at the time, which they do not seem to have ever done, to hold every instance of racial discrimination against other people up to some specific standard that Jews suffered in the past before begrudgingly acknowledging that it is racial discrimination would be both random, absurd, and unfair. If you do that, what is to stop black people from claiming that any racial discrimination that is not multi-generational enslavement by Americans as the only thing that counts as racism in this country, by which definition the Jews would have never suffered racism in America? Crazy to suggest, right? Now imagine how those innocent Asian kids getting politically shut out of specialized high schools and elite colleges today feel.

  • Bill Radulovic says:

    Ivy Coach, solely owned by Jews, is proposing that Jews, whom are GROSSLY overrepresented at the Ivies, take away MORE spots from the Underrepresented Minorities at the Ivy League to make room for them. Because if Ivy Coach wants more Jews in the Ivies, some other demographic group will have to lose to make room. So which group os it? Who needs to give their spots to Jews, Ivy Coach? Overrepresented Asians? But you say are being discriminated against, so it’s not them.Blacks or Hispanics? They are URM’s so certainly not them. OH, most likely, you want less White Christian Males- whom are already the most discriminated against group of all! And if White CHRISTIAN Males whom are 5% OR LESS of the Ivy League (Grossly Underrepresented), said they were concerned with the declining number of White Christian Males at the Ivies, everyone would say this statement is racist, naturally. Would you be willing to give up your Jewish Slots for Christian Slots? NEVER! You would say that was racist too! How about Ivy Coach worrying about the best students not getting in based on merit instead of a certain demographic? You seem to be worried about every group except the MOST discriminated against of all- White Christian Males. Let’s be fair Ivy Coach!

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Anti-Semitic much, Bill?

      • James says:

        Can you explain how this post is Anti-Semitic?

        • Ivy Coach says:

          Hi James,

          We didn’t read much further beyond: “Ivy Coach, solely owned by Jews, is proposing that Jews…”

          We of the Jewish faith learned more about the writer in this string of words than we cared to know. The mere use of the word “Jews” in this context gives us the creeps. Any relative of the six million souls who perished in the atrocities of the Holocaust can read the anti-Semitism in this string of words. So, James, should you.

  • Sterling Kravitz says:

    Ivy Coach either is not smart in math or is blatanly biased. If you look at what ‘E’ said, above. He states if one group has to win, then another group has to lose, hence there is only 4 pieces im a pie, so saying you gor only 1 piece imstead of 2, one of your 3 friends present will have to give you hers. So saying you are upset that Jewish peoples are declining in numbers, some other group has increased there. All of them are minorities. So you would need to have some minority give up their spots to increase your share.

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