Sergio Della Pergola
The scientific study of the Jewish population, also known as demography of the Jews or Jewish demography, does not actually claim the status of a distinct discipline. It is an area of specialization focusing on the changing size and composition of Jewish populations and on the determinants and consequences of such changes. This article outlines some of the main concepts, interpretative frameworks, and methodological issues in the field, followed by a short outline of substantive patterns and applied uses of available knowledge. The main scientific rationale for the study of Jewish populations rests with the growing interest in understanding the demography of religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities. Demographic changes provide an important and occasionally indispensable background for an appraisal of Jewish history and cultural experience. Hence, the study of Jewish demography is organically tied to the development of Jewish studies.
Harvey E. Goldberg
The social-scientific study of Judaism is a modern phenomenon just as are the social sciences themselves. Several themes run through various efforts to study Jews and Judaism in social-scientific terms. First is the need to understand the socio-political and ideological backgrounds to making Jews the object of scientific study. Another question is whether the impetus to a study of the Jews comes from a particular interest in their situation and development. Related to both of these issues is the question whether those undertaking the research are Jews or Gentiles. Another significant dividing line is the sociology of modern communities in the diaspora in contrast to the sociology of Israeli society that took shape at the time the state was established. A related topic that is worth tracing is the degree to which historians or other scholars of Jews and Judaism have adopted social-scientific modes of thought into their writings.