Significant Increase in New York’s Orthodox Population

A comprehensive demographic study of the local Jewish population in 2012, done by UJA-Federation and released Friday, shows that overall, Jewish population in New York is up. Two-thirds of the growth is from the Orthodox communities communities in Boro Park and in Williamsburg.

The New York region hosts the largest Jewish community in North America.

A closer look at the data shows picture more nuanced region, with Jewish population up in some places and down in others, and many levels of affiliation.

The Jewish population of greater New York City (the five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester) has risen in the last decade to 1.54 million, up by ten percent. And of that total growth since 2002, the most dramatic growth occurred in Brooklyn, primarily in Boro Park (up 71 percent) and Williamsburg (up 41 percent).

According to the study, of the approximately 493,000 Orthodox Jews living in greater New York City, nearly half, or 239,000 identify themselves as a Chassidic, 157,000 identify themselves as modern Orthodox, and some 97,000 as Yeshivish.

Brooklyn has the highest percentage of children compared with other counties studied. One-third of Brooklyn’s population is in the 0-17 age range, followed by 28 percent in the 18-39 age bracket and 24% in the 40-64 age category. The percent of children ages 5-17 who attend or have attended “day school” is 89%. Russian-speaking households make up 31% of Brooklyn’s total, and households with a Holocaust survivor, 4%.

The Jewish population grew by 144% in Washington Heights, too, an Orthodox neighborhood in Northern Manhattan.

“The geographic profile give us essential current information so we can best respond … to regional and communal needs,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York

Here is a snapshot, based on the Executive Summary:

Jewish population is increasing, unlike the decade from 1992-2002, and the Jewish population of New York City, which had fallen below one million in 2002, has risen to 1,086,000.

Immigration no longer drives the growth of the community. Instead, the high Orthodox birthrate is a key factor, as is an increase in longevity.

The number of people under 25 has increased from 432,000 in 2002 to 498,000 in 2011. Jews age 75 and over increased from 153,000 to 198,000. There are 446,000 Jewish “baby boomers.

Many New York Jews live in “conditions of significant economic stress and [with] need for assistance,” the report notes, with about 19% of all Jewish households listed as “poor,” up from 15% in 2002. Poverty in the suburbs has increased, too. At least 15% receive at least one form of public support, i.e., SNAP or Medicaid.