Posted by Pini Herman
Having hit age 60 this year, I’m part of the “Grey Tsunami” of post World War II Baby Boomers (persons born between 1946 and 1964) who are going reshape society as we know it.
If the Jewish population has remained stable since the 1997 Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey, then an estimated 18 Jews are newly eligible for Medicare each day or over six thousand a year are turning age 65.
This aging trend will only accelerate by 2022, when I am seventy. Then an expected 22 LA Jews will turning 65 each day.
I leave the Jewish communal implications of this aging trend to your imagination and comment.
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August 15, 2011 | 10:56 am
Posted by Pini Herman
Does God command censuses to know how many Israelite family tents there were? There were eight Biblical censuses. These censuses were for Moses, David, Solomon and the other kings because mortal beings, especially leaders, kings, politicians and advocates have a tendency to make up numbers or ignore numbers when it suits them.
I haven’t seen any demographic surveys of the Israeli cost-of-living and housing protesters yet. There’s another demographic measure which I can use from here to test crowd size claims. Density. How many people fit on a defined piece of ground.
An average person feels comfortable in a crowd when the closest other persons are about a foot away and an average adult occupies another foot or so. That totals about four feet by four feet (16 sq. ft or 1.5 sq. meters) and then people start bumping into each other.
So when I read that 300,000 Israelis demonstrated a week ago, I figure that they took up about 450,000 square meters of the Holy Land. I am grateful to Hanan Sher for pointing out my area calculation error. The demonstrators would occupy about a half kilometer in space. There would be plenty of room for the cost-of-living demonstrators in the public spaces available to them.
I’ve also heard that 300,000 Israeli yordim live in Los Angeles county which is about half the area of Israel, so there should be one Israeli every 15 meters or every 50 feet, the size of a typical city lot in Los Angeles.
In 1983, I estimated, 10 - 12 thousand Israeli born people in Los Angeles, if that figure doubled in the past 28 years, I would be surprised.
This is one of the reasons the most recent L.A. rallies to support Israel on Wilshire Blvd. have had almost as many people on the speakers stage, paid staffers, police, firefighters and emergency personnel as actual participants on the street.
Without good information, wild numbers are bandied about to back all sorts of agendas and precious credibility, goodwill and resources are lost.
August 8, 2011 | 12:13 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
LA may be getting more Jewish young visitors than Birthright Taglit is getting in Israel. We are surrounded by wandering young Jews, largely invisible to us, and we Jewish Angelenos, to them.
My relative, David Boross, lives in Budapest, Hungary and came to LA in 1996 at age 16 for a Jewish summer camp experience at Camp Hess Kramer. At the end of camp I picked him up. David was frustrated that not one of his camp mates, the best and brightest LA Jewry had to offer, knew where his country, Hungary, was.
During camp everyone was following the 1996 Summer Olympics. David’s parents, Istvan and Hedvig founded a company OAZIS, which happened to be a corporate sponsor of the Hungarian Olympic team. Rather than be with his parents in Atlanta, David chose a Jewish camp experience. David had bragging rights to three Olympic gold medals for swimming that Hungarians had taken away from, among others, American swimmers. Even with that, David reported that Hungary as a place didn’t seem to register on American Jewish youth. At most, some knew it was in a place called Europe, on the way to Israel.
Hungary by jet is just a three hours from Israel versus the thirteen hours to Los Angeles. It seems that for Jewish identity building and maintenance David prefers to get on a longer flight to LA.
A 31 year-old David messaged me a few weeks ago on Facebook that he was coming from Budapest to LA. David was coming to participate in a opening a time capsule at Camp Hess Kramer that he had sealed in 1996. Well, things hadn’t changed. It was David’s impression the people he met back at the camp still didn’t know where Hungary was and probably don’t know a lot about an active resurgent European Jewish community estimated at 50,000 to 150,000. Hungary’s Jews are like LA and haven’t done a recent Jewish population survey and also don’t know their community’s vitals.
Open up the LA Times and Chris Erskine writes about French Jew’rney, a Paris based Jewish non-profit with the slogan Vivez L’American Dream (Live the American Dream) which gives French Jewish teens an LA experience.
This goes without mentioning the yearly 350 thousand Israeli tourists and business travelers to the US, of whom at least 50 thousand wind up visiting LA. Compare this to the 20 thousand Birthright Taglit visitors expected this summer in Israel from 31 countries. I would wager that more young Jews visit LA from 32 countries (Israel included) than visit Israel.
Just the Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) at the Brandeis Bardin campus of the local American Jewish University has 70 young adult participants from 10 countries and 15 of the US states this summer, not to mention foreign students at Hebrew Union College and other Jewish educational institutions.
The thousands of young Jews from around the world on the double decker Starline buses who regularly pass the Jewish Federation building on Wilshire without knowing what it is, on their way to Rodeo Drive, unaware it is in the middle of the only majority Jewish city in the U.S.
As as Jewish community we don’t take advantage to our young coreligionists presence and largely remain invisible to them during their American adventure. Where’s Hungary, France, Germany, Australia and Klal Yisrael. Our LA American Jewish kids, and even their LA parents, may never know.
August 1, 2011 | 11:38 am
Posted by Pini Herman
Israeli ultra-Orthodox Haredi women in 2010 were averaging one fewer babies than they were five years earlier. Haredi women are now having 6.5 instead of 7.5 babies according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.
Fertility among Israeli secular women actually increased by 0.15 children over the same 2005-2010 period. This increase in Israeli secular fertility replaced most (80 percent) of the loss of Israeli Haredi fertility.
Some factors cited are that the ultra-orthodox push toward larger families is economically unsustainable given the high cost of Israeli housing and Haredi women going to work in greater numbers while Haredi husbands often study in yeshivahs up to twenty years into their marriage..
As older Haredi mothers with larger families age out of their childbearing years younger mothers replacing them are expected to have less babies over their lifetimes.
The trend of lower Israeli Haredi fertility is expected to continue. I estimate that by 2035 Haredi fertility could likely be 3 to 4 babies per Haredi woman. Secular births, currently at slightly above replacement, 2.3 babies may increase to 3 babies per woman, but its doubtful.
The number of never-married single mothers in Israel has increased from 8,400 in 2000 to 15,100 in 2009 – an increase of about 80%. Its likely that this also contributed to the increase in Israeli secular fertility.
July 26, 2011 | 4:10 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
Chicago has grown to 291,800 Jews, an increase of 8% since the last survey in 2000. Part of this growth may be attributed to children of intermarrieds who identify as Jewish.
Some of the other findings of the 2010 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community Study:
Intermarriage rates are moderate: using previous study definitions, 37% of married couples are currently intermarried, compared to a similarly computed 2000 30% intermarriage rate;
While intermarriage has increased since 2000, the proportion of children living with intermarried parents being raised unambiguously Jewish (“Jewish-only”) increased from 38% in 2000 to 49% in 2010.
Intermarried parents who are raising their children unambiguously Jewish are much more connected to the Jewish community than other intermarried families with children.
The Second City has released the findings of the which interviewed a sample of two thousand households and New York is in the midst of their 2011 Jewish Community Study currently surveying about six thousand Jewish households. Both these cities have conducted regular Jewish population studies every ten years since the early 1980s.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles hasn’t had Jewish population survey in about fourteen years and is not slated to. We can only conjecture as to what is happening in Los Angeles.
July 21, 2011 | 6:04 pm
Posted by Bruce Phillips
If you call the LA Federation with a question about the demographics of Los Angeles Jewry, there’s a very good chance you will be referred to me.
This is both flattering and awkward since my colleague, Pini Herman, conducted the last study 14 years ago, and I have to explain that I can only offer recent history. I still use that study myself as part of my academic research on Jews in cities. One of my recent publications on the 1997 study was published by Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life at USC, and I draw on some of my findings in this and in future posts.
The most typical question I get have to do with the size and demographic profile of the Jewish population in particular communities, along with inquires regarding where Jews are moving. It’s hard to be very helpful with older data, but I have developed some questions of my own for the next study (may it come quickly and in our time), three of which I share here.
Question 1: Is the Los Angeles Jewish population growing, shrinking or remaining stable?
The 1997 report shows only modest Jewish population growth from 503,000 to 519,000. The latter figure is an underestimate for comparison purposes because the 1979 study included the San Gabriel Valley and the 1997 study did not count children raised in no religion by intermarried parents as Jews. If you add in those two groups the 1997 estimate would be 528,000, or 5 percent growth over 18 years. That’s basically a stable Jewish population, and that stability is impressive given that the white, non-Hispanic population of LA County declined over the same period from 53.3% in 1980 to 32.1% in 2000.
Two recent Jewish population studies of San Diego (2003) and San Francisco (2004) reported growth rates of 27% and 36% during the ten years prior to the study. The ten-year growth rate for Los Angeles in 1997 was only 4% by comparison. This suggests that new Jewish migrants to California are moving to metropolitan areas other than Los Angeles.
Question #2: What’s with the West Valley?
The West Valley (Calabasas west to the end of the Conejo Valley) is generally thought of as the place for young families. This was definitely true in 1979 when more than half the Jewish households there had children. By 1997, however, only a third of the West Valley households had children. That was still a higher percentage than any other area, but nonetheless suggests that this area was aging along with the rest of Jewish Los Angeles. Indeed, only 3% of the households there were empty nesters in 1979 compared with 21% in 1997. Has it become an empty nester community in the years since then?
Question #3: What’s happening in the Santa Clarita and Simi Valleys?
In 1979 most of the Jews in the Santa Clarita and Simi Valleys were either visiting Magic Mountain or at Brandeis-Bardin. Even in 1997 only 4% of the Jewish households in LA County were to be found in these two valleys, in contrast with fully a quarter of all non-Hispanic whites in Los Angeles County. In fact, the Simi, Santa Clarita, and San Gabriel Valleys were the only areas where Jews were under-represented in LA County. Moreover, the intermarriage rate there was 56%, more than double the rate for the rest of Jewish Los Angeles. In other words, these two valleys were attractive primarily to non-Jewish whites and intermarried Jews. But we know that both Simi Valley and Valencia have been intensively developed since then. Has the northwest corner of Los Angeles County become more Jewish since 1997, or has it remained Jewishly marginal?
July 19, 2011 | 12:03 am
Posted by Pini Herman
The Federation reported to the JTA that TNBJI cost $40K and I claimed that it cost $2 million. We’re really not that far apart.
The Federation says that apart from staffing costs…....it spent only $40K.
I said that when you calculate staffing and labor costs and the cost of submitting a proposal…...it comes to $2 million.
The major divergence is in accounting. I count the staffing, labor and opportunity costs of all who were engaged with the TNBJI contest and the Federation does not.
Several journalists asked me how I came up with my estimate of $2 million
Jewish Communal Cost=306 Ideas submitted X 1.5 persons per idea X 60 hours to develop proposal X $60 @hr grant development = $1,652,400.00
Federation Costs=306 Ideas submitted X 16 hrs staff time X $80 @hr= $391,680
[Estimated Community Costs] $1,652,400 + $391,680 [Estimated Federation Cost] = $2,044,080 [Estimated Total]
The contest ran for 143 days. The federation reports that it “engaged 100,000 people in conversation to say what they thought.” The federation stated budget put the cost of each person engaged at 40 cents. If Federation staff cost (of a modest $80 per hour) are considered cost per contest engaged person is $4. If estimated community costs are included, the cost per engaged person is $20.
An argument may be made that Federation staff gets paid anyhow, no matter what they do, and the staff costs can’t be accounted, attributed or allocated to a specific project such as TNBJI. Such lack of accountability is afforded to few organizations.
Conversely, if the work of contest invitees is valued by the Federation at $0, and it assumes that there is no cost to others, only free crowd-sourced labor. No consideration is given to hundreds of talented Jewish persons lost opportunities to seek other funding, for housework, childcare, elder-care and volunteer work and other ways to occupying submitters time such as paid labor or leisure.
The outcome value claimed by the federation, is in what it describes as “engagement” and the presentation of ideas. TNBJI contest costs were described by the federation as: “in addition to the $100,000 prize and staff time, the contest cost the organization about $40,000, including online advertising, videos and printed materials.”
Aside from staff time and the $100,000 prize, the federation represents the cost of each engaged person at forty cents. A strong case can be made that a truer cost of an “engaged person” in the context of this contest was $20. That’s what I like to thing my time is worth.
Whether it was forty cents or fifty times as much, it ultimately comes out of the Jewish community’s limited resources that might be allocated in a wiser manner.
July 13, 2011 | 4:52 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
$100,000 in direct and in-kind resources to the TNBJI winner has been announced. Launchbox. Its a perhaps laudable program of delivering a box of Orthodox oriented content to to the lesser-practicing Jew to launch them rightward in the continuum of Jewish identity and practice.
$100,000 to Chabad might have been a bit more efficient. $100,000 buys much more when channeled through a large existing organization than when its channeled through a start-up organization. A lot gets eaten up in start-up costs.
A competition was created. The competitors had to dig into their own pockets to compete. Even the in the book of Esther, the king bore the costs of primping the beauty contestants.
This is the equivalent of displaying a bag of money in the street and making the needy fill out forms as they swarm to reach it. The money bag target is so amorphous and vague, that forgotten is that its the Federation’s mission to research and plan so that money can be distributed in a planful manner.
The cash honeypot was modest, $100,000 for the Federation, an organization with a $40,000,000 yearly budget, Federation staff easily burned through that amount of money in a few months of their TNBJI overhead.
The applicants spent at least $1.7 million in kind and cash pursuing the $100,000 and the Jewish Federation of Greater LA will have conservatively expended $0.3 million to give away the $100,000 to the winner, Launchbox.
The use of information gathered from unsuccessful applicants for a study is way to use administrative data. I call it “Craigslist Sampling.” The cost of information provision is borne by hopeful applicants. The crowd of applicants provided this data about what they thought was important enough to spend their meager resources on. Unfortunately the other data in the Federation’s possession regarding community votes and judges votes is, so far, secret.
The 306 applicants were classified into an average two or more categories by the Federation on its TNBJI website. Community and Jewish Identity came out on top as the most popular themes of The Next Big Jewish Idea applicants. Interfaith, Health & Fitness, College, and Special Needs were the least popular. Israel was ranked in the middle.
Rather than the enticing Craigslist-like Internet come on, “Work From Home,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles used the siren call of “Work From An Office in the Jewish Federation building.” Individuals grasping for legitimacy of a real office and a real budget in these recessionary times and Jewish agencies grasping at a way to make up for cuts in Federation funding stuffed a lot of electronic envelopes.
If the Federation doesn’t have any more information about communal needs than its TNBJI applicants, then everyone is in the dark. TV game show logic sets in. TNBJI is described by the media as an open submissions contest with a $100,000 prize. The judging process is tantalizing long, but on TV, more transparent.
The light that legitimate Jewish communal needs research would provide is missing. Jewish communal Leadership does not mean keeping the lights off in a dark room and having the only box of matches around.
Most responsible Jewish communities have known, since the 1920s, having valid actionable information is like paying the light bill.