Even with Katz’s Deli experiencing a brisket renaissance and the 92nd St. Y featuring a whole new mishpacha of shvitzers, the Jewish population of New York City has been experiencing a steady decline for the last few decades.
Now, however, The New York Times is reporting that those downward numbers are changing course and the city is actually experiencing a Jewish revival. A new study, conducted by the UJA-Federation of New York, found that Semitic population of New York City exploded to 1.1 million people, up from under one million people when the survey was last administered in 2002.
Despite the surging number of Jews, the study yields numerous corollaries. One is that the Jewish community has become increasingly polarised. While Orthodox and Hasidic movements are booming (Orthodox Judaism in the city experienced a 7 per cent population increase), Reform and Conservative sects are losing members hand-over-fist.
Each lost 40,000 members since the last survey and secular Jews are walking away with them. Nearly a third of the study’s respondents who identified themselves as Jews did not ally themselves with a particular denomination or claim a religion.
For Orthodox Judaism, population figures are on the rise. 40 per cent of Jews in the city now identify as Orthodox, but with that uptick comes a shift in attitude and ideology, both within the community and outside of it. While Judaism has long been seen as a beacon of liberalism, Orthodox and Hasidic movements hold especially conservative viewpoints not shared by many secular Jews.
They’re also more impoverished and hold fewer college degrees; Brooklyn’s Hasidic population has a 43 per cent poverty rate.
New York’s Upper West Side, typically home to Jewish Ivy League elite, has seen a loss in population share compared to that of budding Orthodox communities. Many of the ritzy neighbourhood’s former residents have relocated to greener shtetls in areas like Westchester and Long Island, with the eight counties experiencing a 10 per cent population increase.
“There are more deeply engaged Jews and there are more unengaged Jews,” said Jacob B. Ukeles, a social policy analyst and one of the principal authors of the study, to The New York Times. “These two wings are growing at the expense of the middle. That’s the reality of our community.”
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.