As the Jewish population in Louisville disperses, Jewish infrastructure is suffering

The Jewish community in Louisville, Ky., is struggling as population numbers decline and the Jewish community in Louisville becomes more dispersed, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

The Jewish population there dropped from 8,700 to 8,307 between 1991 and 2006, which has put pressure on the Jewish infrastructure in the area.

Louisville’s only non-Orthodox day school recently closed, as did its only kosher restaurant. The local JCC has about 8,000 members, but only 38 percent are Jewish, and it recently closed its kosher cafe because of lack of demand. Several synagogues are discussing mergers simply to stay afloat. And, the local federation’s annual campaign has remained stagnant over the past five years at about $2.8 million, the Courier-Journal reports.

The Fundermentalist’s take: At the same time that the Louisville paper is reporting this story, several large-city federations, including those in New York and Baltimore, are reporting that they saw record gains in their fund raising last year. But, in the middle of the country, the situation in Louisville is more the norm than an aberration.

Population shift is a serious concern for smaller federations in the Midwest, especially, as Jews move away from Jewish communities that were small to start off with.

Perhaps it is time for the federation system to start considering some sort of domestic profit-sharing plan in which large city federation success could be used to help ease small city federation distress.

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