Immigrants Boost New York Citys Jewish Population
Novoye Russkoye Slovo
June 17, 2003
By Alexandr Grant
On June 16, the
United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York issued a report stating that the Jewish
population in New York City has declined by five percent since 1991 and has fallen
below one million for the first time in over 100 years. The report suggests that
many Jews have left New York City to live in surrounding suburban areas.
overall Jewish population for New York City and the neighboring counties of Westchester,
Nassau and Suffolk totals 1.4 million.
The UFAs report, which is widely
regarded as the most authoritative study of the Jewish population, states that
972,000 Jews lived in New York during 2002. This is slightly less than the total
number during the 1980s and 1990, but it is almost half the total for the 1950s,
when two million Jews lived throughout the five New York boroughs.
population would have declined far more quickly, if a constant wave of immigrants
had not arrived from former Soviet republics during the 1990s.
Over the past
ten years, 186,000 Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union have settled
in New York City. However, their arrival was accompanied by a rise in the level
of poverty within the citys Jewish population. Economic difficulties and
an increase in the number of pensioners resulted in the number of poor families
nearly doubling within the Jewish population, in the period from 1991 to 2002.
Today, one out of five Jewish families within New York City, and one out of six
Jewish families in the neighboring counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk
are on the verge of poverty.
A number of experts predict that the departure
of the Jewish population from the city will result in a weakening of the Jewish
communitys political influence. Edward Koch, a former mayor of New York
City, believes that the decline in the number of Jews will push the citys
politically liberal outlook to the right. Jews from the former Soviet Union, having
suffered under communism, are politically more conservative than the older generations
of Jewish immigrants, Koch said.
The UJA-Federation reports that the Jewish
population continues to actively participate in religious and public life. Within
New York City and the surrounding counties, 92 percent of those polled said that
the existence of Israel is important to them.
The UJAs report was compiled
from 4533 telephone surveys with Jewish families, which took place from March
to September, 2002.
Translated from Russian by Elizabeth LeBras.
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