Jewish population in NYC grows 10% in decade

New survey commissioned by UJA Federation of New York shows number of Jews in Big Apple on the rise again after a long break.

Photos of New York (photo credit: Wolfgang Staehle)
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 York.
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 UJAFederation.
“This new study will be an invaluable tool in shaping how UJA-Federation and others can best respond to the changing needs within the Jewish community.”
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 parents.
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 nationwide.”
The study quizzed 5,993 respondents who identified as being Jewish and had a 2- percentage point margin of error.