Jewish Population of Chicago Estimated at over 300,000 in Survey

The Jewish population of Chicago is at least 302,500, in contrast to official Jewish statistics crediting the city with 282,000 Jews. The Sentinel, a Chicago English-Jewish weekly, asserts in its current issue. Exception is taken by the publication to the 282,000 figure, published in the American Jewish Year Book.

The Sentinel undertook to obtain an accurate total by computing population based on deaths, a method frequently employed by survey takers when exact counts are not possible. The publication was told by the leading Jewish mortuary in Chicago that 3,175 Jewish funerals were announced in the obituary columns of Chicago daily newspapers during 1961. To this, data was added by the publication on deaths which were not so advertised. The customary figure is about five percent. This would establish about 3,300 Jewish deaths in 1961 in Chicago.

Using the actuarial estimate of 9.1 deaths per 1,000 population, The Sentinel projected the number of Jews in Chicago to be “at least 302,500.” As a check on this projection, the weekly obtained the total membership of Chicago Jews affiliated with Orthodox, Conservative and Reform congregations in Chicago, a total of 48,200 families.

“Since 50 percent are considered to be unaffiliated, this gives us a rough figure of 96,400 total families,” the paper says. “If we then take the national average of 3.65 persons per family, this gives us a grand total of 351,800 Jews in the Chicago area. All these figures are of course, subject to the normal adjustments involved in dealing with estimates. However, it must be assumed that the figure of 302,000 represents the minimum, and 383,000 the maximum. Somewhere in between is the exact number.”

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