Posted by Pini Herman
The proposed way of giving legal status to estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants by a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Charles Schumer and John McCain will have little direct effect on Jews but significant effect on people that Jews come into contact daily at home, business and the work setting.
The country with the greatest number of Jews in the world, Israel, historically has supplied very few long term undocumented immigrants to the U.S. as it’s native-born Jews tend to emigrate at half the rate of other comparable industrialized countries, four percent vs. eight percent. When the 1988 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) legalized about three million undocumented immigrants almost no Jewish or non-Jewish Israelis or were among them. Jews from other countries, such as Iran and the Former Soviet Union, having undocumented status are also relatively rare.
It brings to mind the last legislative effort of former U.S. Congressman Howard Berman was spearheading and sponsoring an E-2 Investor Visa bill for Israelis. Berman highlighted in his May 25, press release his legislation introduced in February, 3 months before the June 5, primary election that he lost by a landslide. The press release reads: “Added Berman, ‘Israeli investors have a natural home in the San Fernando Valley and Southern California to expand their businesses, hire American workers, and strengthen the economy. Organizations like The Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit, non-governmental organization encouraging trade and investment opportunities are well positioned to seize on this opportunity.’”
Actually the passed E-2 Visa legislation won’t give Israelis any fast track for actual immigration. E-2 visas are temporary visas available to foreign nationals who must be a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty. To qualify for the visa, a foreign national must come to the U.S. in order to develop and direct the operations of a business in which the applicant has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital. It seems, from migration data, that most Israelis prefer to remain and invest in Israel.
The most significant effect that the new immigration proposal will have will be for the young Israelis who are encountered at shopping malls selling goods from carts around the holidays. A proposed system of recording the visas of those leaving the U.S. for overstays of their allowed visa periods. The proposed consequence of visa overstays and violations might be not being granted future visas to the U.S.
The primary effect of the senate group’s immigration proposals will be felt by the Jewish community in the very domestic spheres of homes and commerce. Many undocumented workers are currently employed as domestic workers, caretakers, gardeners, handypersons in Jewish homes. For example, Jewish population surveys indicate that often the non-Jewish members of a Jewish household are live-in caretakers.
Jewish-owned service and light industrial businesses employ undocumented skilled and unskilled workers in areas such as property management, food service, tourism, hospitality, warehousing and distribution.
The legalization of thousands of undocumented employed by Jews will undoubtedly have the intended effects of normalizing what currently is a discomforting situation of engaging in illegality in otherwise usually law-abiding lives. Certain costs of business and living will likely rise, such as what is paid for food and services. Legalization will enable the greater job mobility and labor protections and likely increase worker options and therefore normalize the labor market for everyone and likely to increase service and manufacturing quality.
Those members of the Jewish community on the margins in terms of income and business may be the most affected by the changing goods and labor markets available to them. This may present some community dislocation that the organized Jewish community and service agencies will need to plan for.
I urge you also read a well-argued, fact-filled JJ blog entitled "Immigration Reform: A Jewish Imperative" by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek, makes a strong case why the Jewish community should get behind immigration reform.
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January 25, 2013 | 4:04 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
How could hundreds of pre-election polls in Israel be so wrong? Actual voting is different than opinions shared with pollsters. Much of the bellicose verbiage of the right wing parties resonated with the “resiliency” that the average Israeli is supposed to display after weathering a harrowing war experience. Israelis weren't voting with their feet by emigrating, but they definitely voted with their ballots and displayed higher vother turnouts.
Essentially, moderating self-preservation impulses were what ultimately was expressed in the voting booths. Even the fighting elite such as the Israeli Air Force, seemed to have let moderating impulses guide their votes. As Aluf Benn of Haaretz writes:
Most voters at air force-base polling stations preferred Lapid over Netanyahu. Is this because they are more moderate, or because of the implication of the premier's threats against the Islamic Republic?
Five of the past six elections have had an unilateral Israeli-initiated military actions, when there had not been or was no extraordinary impending threat on Israel’s civilians, such as the assassination of Hamas’ Ahmed Jabari as he was in the middle of maintaining and negotiating an expanded ceasefire with Israel.
In the nine weeks before the 2013 elections Israelis discovered that rockets locally made in a sieged Gaza had achieved longer ranges that included Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. That new fact may have have nagged many Israelis to take a step back and vote for a “moderate” new personality, Yair Lapid, who laid down right after the election as his opening gambit in coalition talks were the predictable ending the yeshiva military exemption and—surprise (as J.J. Goldberg points out)—reopening peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Lapid is listening to his electorate who woke up in the morning deciding to vote for him after telling pollsters something else for months.
January 17, 2013 | 11:32 am
Posted by Pini Herman
Through a quirk of the geography of incorporated areas, the lack of a current national or local Jewish population survey, I decided to see what hints the US Census, which does not ask about religion, could provide me about two incorporated, relatively compact, Jewishly dense areas each holding about twenty thousand Jews, Beverly Hills and Kiryas Joel, New York.
Kiryas Joel has, at minimum, an estimated 93 percent Jewish population on a per-capita basis (based in Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian spoken in homes indicated by the 2011 American Community Survey undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau). Most residents of this incorporated area are affiliate with the ultra-Orthodox Satmar movement, a tiny, not representative part of American Jewry, but interesting nonetheless. Ultra-Orthodox Jews likely constitute less than four percent of the American Jewish.
The last blog looked at what the US census hinted about the majority-Jewish Beverly Hills. In contrast to the well-documented wealth of Beverly Hills, Kiryas Joel Village, New York is the poorest incorporated 2010 census area in the U.S. with with 57 percent of families living in poverty found in the U.S.
A third of the 20 to 34 year old women of Kiryas Joel gave birth in 2010, over 8 times the rate of their Beverly Hills likely Jewish sisters. Childbearing is so pronounced among Kiryas Joel women aged 20 to 34, that in 2010, an amazing 730 out of 1000 women gave birth in the past 12 months as compared to Beverly Hills rate of 85 per 1000 women during the same period. Interestingly, fertility technology is probably assisting 35 to 50 year old women in Beverly Hills to achieve the highest number of babies born among that age group.
Looking at the 2000 census and the American Community Survey 2007-2011, Kiryas Joel saw a 50 percent increase in housing units and perhaps a slight population drop along with a significant drop in crowded housing. In the last decade Kiryas Joel experienced less crowded housing, that is, a 40 percent decline in housing units having more than 1.5 persons per room.
It seems that the last decade has seen an increase of younger Charedi families who may be beginning or midway through their childbearing years and a decline in Charedi families who are advanced through their childbearing years.
Kiryas Joel has seen housing growth but, its population has stabilized around 20,000 in the past decade. The families are getting younger. The youngest age cohorts 0 to 9 year olds, have continued to increase along with their 25 to 34 year old parents. It is the 35 to 54 year old cohort, those adults heading the largest families and their 10 to 19 year old children who are declining in numbers in Kiryas Joel.
It may be that the more mature Kiryas Joel Charedi families have moved. The recently completed 2011 New York Jewish Community Study found a significant increase in the number of poor Jewish Orthodox and it may be that some Kiryas Joel families have migrated into New York. Other places that mature larger Charedi families might have moved to are to the fast growing Lakewood Township, New Jersey or to Israel where Charedi families are the fastest growing segment of the West Bank settlements.
January 10, 2013 | 11:25 am
Posted by Pini Herman
My colleague, Bruce Phillips, returned from a scientific meeting embarrassed that among the major Jewish communities, only LA has not had a recent Jewish population survey and he was motivated to look at data from 2007 Pew survey which might hint at how LA’s Jews are the same or differ from Jews in other parts of the U.S. His interesting findings were detailed in his blog of last week.
Taking Bruce’s lead in searching for hints about Jews in already existing data, I embarked on a similar attempt. In Los Angeles county there is one easily measured “Jewish canary,” Beverly Hills, It’s majority Jewish composition may be used to hint at some change in Jewish demographic characteristics over the last decade. Nationally, Kiryas Joel Village, New York with a population of twenty thousand is also well known for having the greatest Jewish population per-capita of any U.S. incorporated area. The contrast of financially well-off West Coast non-Orthodox Jews and mainly low-income and impoverished East coast ultra-Orthodox might be instructive. The characteristics of the vast majority of “Jews-in-the-middle” remains very much of a mystery because of the lack of a current national Jewish population survey by JFNA (Jewish Federation of North America, previously the United Jewish Communities [UJF], earlier the Council of Jewish Federations [CJF]).
Beverly Hills is the incorporated U.S. City with the greatest Jewish population on a per-capita basis. The 1997 Los Angeles Jewish Population found 20,500 Jews living among a total population of 33,784 in 2000 and 34,109 in 2010. Assuming that Beverly Hills, an area known for its high socio-economic indicators, remained 60% Jewish, it may be imputed as a rough indicator of Jewish demographic characteristics change over the last decade.
In an interesting contrast to Beverly Hills, Kiryas Joel Village, New York is the poorest incorporated 2010 census area with with 57 percent of families living in poverty found in the U.S. Kiryas Joel has an estimated 93 percent Jewish population on a per-capita basis (based in Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian spoken in homes). Additionally, there is Lakewood Township, New Jersey, with over triple the population of Beverly Hills or Kiryas Joel, is one of the fastest growing incorporated areas in 2010 was with an estimated 59% of the total 2010 population being Jewish. Both Kiryas Joel and Lakewood are incorporated areas reflecting the high birthrates Jewish Orthodox.
In the decade between 2000 and 2010 Beverly Hills saw, 4 percent decline in its childbearing 25 to 44 year old adult population and a 1 percent decline in it’s child population of age 0 to 14. The over age 65 population increased about 1.5 percent. The median age in Beverly Hills increased from 41.3 to 43.6 in the past decade. This change in age composition would not be a surprising finding if a Jewish population study would be conducted now.
In Beverly Hills over the last decade, the median family income rose 9 percent and the mean family income, a measure more influenced by families with very high incomes, rose 122 percent in 2010 dollars adjusted for inflation. This indicates a disproportionate increase of income among the likely Jewish families who were above the Beverly Hills median family income in any case.
Overall, the median income of Jewish families characteristic of both ends of the economic scale may have improved moderately while the overall US median income stagnated in real dollar terms. The average income (an economic measure more influenced by extremes of poverty and wealth) of Jewish families shows gains both among the poorest of Jewish communities and hints at a doubling of average family income in Beverly Hills. In real terms, it is well known that US average family income declined slightly in the past decade.
Overall, this snapshot of Beverly Hills extrapolated to the larger picture, reflects of what is known about the general U.S. population and probably reflects the Jewish community as well, income has been polarizing. The community remaining in Beverly Hills is getting wealthier and the wealthiest families, even wealthier.
Missing from this picture are those families not able to retain their foothold in Beverly Hills, or even in the middle class. This is something we know anecdotally but only a current Los Angeles Jewish population study could shed light on it.
A future blog will look at another majority Jewish incorporated are, Kiryas Joel, and what it’s U.S. census demographics hint at.
January 3, 2013 | 3:29 pm
Posted Bruce Phillips
As I wrote upon my return from from the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies, embarrassed that Los Angeles was conspicuously absent from presentations on Jewish community studies because our last study is close to 16 years old. My colleagues in Jewish demography are astonished that LA does not even have a survey on the radar.
There are hints of our Jewish community in others' data. I have been working with the Pew Religious Landscape Survey data from 2007 as a part of a project I’m doing with the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. Because this was a survey on religion, only Jews by religion were interviewed. Jews who identified as secular or with some other religion (e.g. Buddhism) could not be identified. Nonetheless, the data are instructive.
I broke out Los Angeles County separately to how we look. The most popular Jewish denomination was Reform at 40.8%, followed by Conservative at 33.3%. The third most popular denomination was no denomination at all (“just Jewish”) at 14.8%.
Again, this refers only to respondents who identified their religion as Judaism. The Reconstructionist movement is more popular in Los Angeles County than anywhere else in the country: 6.7 percent of LA County Jews identified themselves this way as compared with only 1.5% nationwide. Only 2.1% identified themselves as Orthodox in LA, as compared with 14.4% in the Northeast. Another 2.1% identified themselves as “traditional.” That might mean “almost Orthodox” or it could also be immigrants who don’t see themselves fitting into the established denominations. If I add Ventura County, Orange County, and San Diego County to the mix, the pattern is pretty much the same.
Southern California Jews (again, that’s Jews by religion) are more racially diverse than Jews anywhere else in the country. Only 83% of Southern California Jews described themselves as Anglo (i.e. non-Hispanic white). The largest group of non-Anglo Jews was “other/mixed race” at 7.7%, followed by Hispanics at 7.1%. When we say that Southern California Jews look different than Jews elsewhere, that’s not just a figure of speech. We actually LOOK different.
Bruce Phillips is a Professor of Jewish Communal Service in the School of Non-Profit Management, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles and USC. Bruce is among the leading sociologists studying the contemporary Jewish community, specializing in the sociology and demography of American Jewry. Bruce can be found playing banjo, mandolin and other stringed instruments in the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Shabbat Unplugged live Bayit (House) Band on many Friday nights.To email Bruce: firstname.lastname@example.org