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Study: Orthodox boosting N.Y. Jewish population

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(JTA) — The New York City area’s Jewish population is growing, in large part due to its Orthodox community, a comprehensive study has found.

There are 1.54 million Jews living in 694,000 Jewish households in New York City and three suburban counties, an increase of 9 percent between 2002 and 2011, according to the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011. The figures in the study, released Tuesday morning, show the New York area with the largest Jewish population anywhere outside of Israel.

The study, sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, was conducted from Feb. 8, 2011, to July 10, 2011 by Jewish Policy & Action Research, led by Dr. Steven Cohen. Some 5,993 self-identifying Jewish adults from New York City and suburban Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties were interviewed by telephone. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent.  

According to the study, 32 percent of the New York area’s Jews are Orthodox. Orthodox households are home to 61 percent of all Jewish children in the New York area.

The total number of Jewish children and young adults under the age of 25 has grown by 66,000 since 2002. Meanwhile, the number of Jewish senior citizens also has risen since 2002, with 45,000 more Jews age 75 and above.

Some 361,000 people — both Jews and non-Jews — live in poor Jewish households, defined by the study as having an income of under 150% of the federal poverty line. Some 43 percent of Chasidic households are identified as poor.

On the subject of Jewish engagement, the numbers of Orthodox and nondenominational Jews each increased by more than 100,000 over the past decade, while the numbers of Conservative and Reform Jews each decreased by about 40,000. Twenty-two percent of married couples are intermarried, and some 40 percent of non-Orthodox married couples are intermarried. Of the non-Orthodox couples married in the past five years, 50 percent are intermarried. 

According to the study, nearly half of Jews aged 18 to 34 attended Jewish day school, compared with 16 percent of those ages 55 to 69.

The federation’s 2002 community study had found within New York City specifically, the Jewish population had fallen below 1 million for the first time in a century. Today, the city’s population has risen to 1.086 million, according to the new study.

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