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The results of the U.S. Census – taken every 10 years – are used to draw district lines, allocate Congressional seats, and distribute federal funding for essential services such as schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other vital programs.
While an accurate count is imperative to ensure representation, funding, and resources for all, there’s concern that the Administration’s (failed) effort to add a citizenship status question could cause fear and confusion within immigrant and at-risk communities, thus depressing response rates.
Further, with budget cuts to Census data collection, the majority of the Census will be conducted online, impacting low income communities that may have insufficient Internet and/or smart device access.
Education is key and the facts matter! With so much at stake, it is crucial that everyone fills out the Census without fear or uncertainty.
Jewish Sources for the Census
“Take a census of the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names, every male, head by head. You and Aaron shall record them by their groups, from the age of twenty years up, all those in Israel who are able to bear arms.” — Numbers 1:2-3
Many in the Jewish community will point to the beginning of the book of Numbers as the foundational Jewish text on which we base our understanding of the importance of a national census. Yet, in ancient accounts of the census, only Israelite men of the age of military capability were counted; this is far from an accurate representation of the makeup of our people as we wandered through the desert.
Today, many groups are vastly undercounted in the Census, just as they were in the Book of Numbers, including women and non-members of the Israelite community. We must urge ALL our neighbors to fill out the Census, ensuring that all communities and families are counted, whether they be African American, Latinx or belong to other minority communities. We must ensure that the Census is not weaponized against these more often vulnerable populations.