Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New York Jewish Population Is Growing 

The population of the New York Jewish community has grown nearly 10 percent since the previous study in 2002, according to UJA-Federation of New York's Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011, released today. More than 1.5 million Jews now live in the eight-county New York area, a total that surpasses the combined Jewish populations of the metropolitan areas of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In the five boroughs of New York City, the Jewish population rose to 1,086,000, with 316,000 on Long Island and 136,000 in Westchester.

UJA-Federation's study also finds that the recent growth in Jewish population largely results from increased birthrates and longevity, rather than from immigration that previously drove the rise in the area's Jewish population. Increases were also measured at both ends of the age spectrum, including the number of Jewish children and young adults under the age of 25 (which now totals 498,000) and the number of Jewish seniors, particularly those ages 75 and over (198,000).

The New York Jewish community is highly diverse, according to the study. Of the 1.5 million Jewish people in the New York Jewish community, nearly half a million are Orthodox, 216,000 live in Russian-speaking households, and about 12 percent of all Jewish households are biracial or nonwhite. The study also explores the changing nature of Jewish identity and engagement. Nondenominational Jews and Jews with no religion now make up a third of all Jewish households in the New York area. More than half of all Jews feel that being Jewish is very important. And less-engaged Jews are relatively engaged in Jewish activities that one can perform independently of institutions. The full study can be found at http://www.ujafedny.org/jewish-community-study-of-new-york-2011/

"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 UJA-Federation. "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 New York Jewish community has also seen rising rates of poverty, with more than half a million people living in poor or near-poor Jewish households. One in four people in Jewish households in New York City is poor, an increase from one in five in 2002, with a large increase reported in poverty in suburban areas.

"This data will not only inform our own strategic planning but also prove helpful to agencies, synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish social service, educational, and grassroots organizations," said John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation.

"UJA-Federation's role is to think strategically about the future of the Jewish community, and this study, which is an important vehicle for noting the changes that have taken place over the last decade, will further enrich our understanding of the community," said Scott Shay, chair of the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 Committee. "The committee of lay members overseeing the study spent significant time considering each area of inquiry, and indeed each question, resulting in a remarkably thorough mapping of this incredibly diverse community."

In addition to its demographic findings, UJA-Federation's study is noteworthy for how it was conducted. Nearly 6,000 interviews were conducted, more than any other Jewish population survey ever conducted locally or nationally, and more than 20 percent of the interviews were conducted via cell phone, a percentage far greater than any other Jewish community study.

UJA Federation engaged Jewish Policy and Action Research (JPAR) to conduct the study. JPAR is a strategic alliance between Ukeles Associates, Inc., and Social Science Research Solutions, and together they have worked on 21 Jewish community studies across the United States. Professor Steven M. Cohen is JPAR's research team director for the New York study.

"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 Professor Steven M. Cohen. "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."


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