SAN FRANCISCO - As recently as the 1950s, the San Francisco Bay area was considered a backwater of American Judaism. Of its 4-million residents then, about 100,000, or 2.5 percent, were Jews. Most had been assimilated into the culture at large and lived a secular existence, as had many of the German and Eastern European Jewish pioneers who migrated to California during the Gold Rush.
Today the bay area is the scene of a Jewish renaissance with a Californian twist, according to a survey supervised by Gary Tobin, a demographer and the director the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.
The area also has two Jewish museums, a Jewish film festival, two Jewish theater companies, five regional Jewish community centers and several Jewish newspapers.