Photos of New York.
(photo credit: Wolfgang Staehle)
The days when Jews arrived in New York City by the boatload in search of
economic opportunity and religious freedom are long gone, but a survey published
Tuesday indicates that after a break the Jewish community in the Big Apple is
once again on the rise.
This time, the increase is due to natural growth
rather than immigration.
The number of self-identifying Jews living in
eight New York counties in and around the city rose by more than 10 percent in
the last decade, according to data released by the UJA Federation of New
There are more than 1.5 million Jews from diverse backgrounds
living in the city’s five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester County. The
survey did not take into account nearby New Jersey and Connecticut, which also
have large Jewish communities.
“With such an expansive view of the New
York Jewish community, our ability to make informed and meaningful planning and
policy decisions grows exponentially,” said Jerry W. Levin, president of
“This new study will be an invaluable tool in shaping how
UJA-Federation and others can best respond to the changing needs within the
The study’s data seemed to suggest a tale of two
communities rather than one. The majority of respondents were affluent and
secular. Intermarriage in this demographic stood at 50%. About half of
intermarried families observed some Jewish customs such as lighting candles on
Hanukka and holding a Passover Seder. Some 31% of children who had only one
Jewish parent were raised as Jews, as opposed to 92% of those with two Jewish
On the other side of the equation were the Orthodox groups,
whose rapid growth tipped the scales in favor of an overall Jewish demographic
increase. Fervently religious communities in neighborhoods such as Borough Park
and the southern section of Williamsburg, both in Brooklyn, drove the overall
average age down and poverty rates up. Some 43% of haredi households were below
the poverty line.
The survey reconfirmed the dominance of New York in
Jewish America. The UJA Federation made a point of saying the city has more
Jewish residents than the metropolitan areas of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia,
San Francisco and Washington, DC, combined.
“The findings from the New
York Jewish community study offer a tremendously rich data set that will have a
significant impact on the work of policy analysts, demographers and
sociologists,” said Prof.
Steven M. Cohen, who conducted the survey. “The
New York area is such an important part of the national Jewish community that
these findings will also help illuminate trends taking place
The study quizzed 5,993 respondents who identified as being
Jewish and had a 2- percentage point margin of error.