Metropolitan New York Jewish Population Stable At 1.4 Million -- Conservative and Reform Jews Decreasing Rapidly

by Mordecai Plaut

(Page 2)

The New York area is much more traditionally Jewish by many measures. One of these is the intermarriage rate. Keeping in mind that these figures may be somewhat suspect because they are based on the respondents' self-definition, 22 percent are intermarried and 7 percent are conversionary marriages, and thus 71 percent are inmarriages. The survey defines a "conversionary marriage" as one in which one of the spouses was not raised Jewish but now "considers self Jewish regardless of whether a formal conversion occurred."

However the range varies considerably. In Suffolk County 41 percent of the couples are intermarriages, while in Brooklyn only 12 percent are.

The rate of intermarriage has been pretty stable over the past 25 years at about 30 percent, which is much lower than the overall US Jewish community.

In the overall US Jewish community, according to the "American Jewish Identity Survey, 2001," about a third of the Jewish population does not self-identify as Jewish (Jewish, No Religion -- JNR), while in the New York Metropolitan area only 10 percent are "secular and no religion." Even if we include those who call themselves "Just Jewish" as having no religion, they come to 25 percent of the NY population -- considerably less than the overall US proportion.

Since New York Jewry is more than a quarter of the overall Core Jewish population of America, this has implications for the rest of American Jewry.

According to the survey, there are about 370,000 children under the age of 18 in the New York metropolitan area.

Some other highlights: There are 202,000 Russian-speaking Jews. There are almost equal percentages of children (22 percent) and seniors (20 percent). Approximately 83,000 seniors live alone in the New York area. Of the Jewish respondents 75 and over who are living alone, 44 percent do not have an adult child living in the New York region.

Despite substantial wealth within the Jewish community, there is also substantial poverty. Jewish poverty in New York City has doubled from 10.5 percent in 1991 to 21.2 percent as of 2002. 244,000 people live in poor Jewish households; 91 percent of Russian-speaking seniors report poverty level incomes. One in five Jewish households in New York City are poor. In 1991, one in ten Jewish households in New York City were poor. Researchers attribute this to the influx of Russian immigrants who tend to be poor, especially in the first years after their arrival.

Interviews were carried out between March 11, 2002 and September 13, 2002. 4,533 telephone interviews were conducted with randomly selected Jewish households. A Jewish household was defined as a household including one or more persons at least 18 years old, who self-identify themselves as Jewish.

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