Religious Jews Lead New York to Jewish Growth

June 12, 2012  

The Jewish community of New York City is increasing in size after shrinking for decades, according to new research published in the New York Times. The Jewish community now numbers an estimated 1.1 million.

The change was attributed to birthrates in the orthodox Jewish community, particularly in Chassidic circles.

Forty percent of New York City Jews now identify as orthodox, up from 33% a decade ago. Nearly three out of every four Jewish children in the city are growing up in orthodox families.

Researchers included as Jewish anyone who defined themselves as Jewish or “partially Jewish.” Those who considered themselves Jewish but practiced a different religion were not included.

A total of 5,993 people were interviewed for the study.

An estimated one-third of American Jews live in the New York area. The total American Jewish population has been estimated at 5 to 6 million.

New York City’s Jewish population hit its peak in the 1950s, when two million Jews lived in the area. A study conducted in 2002 found that the Jewish population had dropped to under one million. Much of the decline was attributed to a move to the suburbs.

In addition, the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements both reported a significant drop in affiliation. Half of non-orthodox Jews who married in the past five years married a non-Jew, the survey found.

“There are more deeply engaged Jews and there are more unengaged Jews. These two wings are growing at the expense of the middle,” social analyst Jacob Ukeles told the Times.

The survey showed that today’s young Jews are much more likely than their parents to have attended Jewish schools. Nearly half of Jewish adults ages 18 to 34 had attended a Jewish day school or yeshiva, compared to 16% of those ages 55 to 69.

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