The Ivy Coach Daily

October 15, 2018

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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