Posted by Pini Herman
Looking at our modest marketing campaign at the Movable Minyan, a lay-lead egalitarian non-denominational congregation, less Jews outside our established community are showing interest and coming to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services at this year.
71 percent of Los Angeles Jews attended Jewish religious services at least once a year, fifteen years ago in 1996 when the last LA Jewish Population Survey was fielded. At that time, one-third (34 percent), were actually dues paying members of a synagogue. When people were asked what might be their reason for joining or not joining a synagogue, three factors stood out: the quality of the rabbi, the need to send children to religious school, and the friendliness of the congregation.
The 23 year-old Movable Minyan doesn’t have a rabbi, only six past and present members who have become Conservative and Reform rabbis after participating in the Do-It-Yourself Judaism that characterizes the minyan. We have children’s services but not religious school and we like to think we’re friendly. So the Movable Minyan isn’t typical, but I’m wondering whether other High Holiday services were also less attended?
The presence of the High Holidays content websites by year on the Internet in English has grown from around 700,000 in 2000 to around 2 million in 2011. This trend may be indicative of High Holiday outreach by religious institutions or changing High Holiday consumption by Jews. Do High Holiday services streamed on the Internet influence actual High Holiday attendance at synagogues?
The rabbi’s High Holiday sermon is streamed. Less people are having school-age children and temple memberships may be the expense to cut. Attending services in one’s shorts or pajamas may be preferable to the friendliness of the mostly once-a-year synagogue crowd. Has physical attendance and the in-gathering of the Jewish community at High Holiday synagogue services declined?
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September 27, 2011 | 11:40 am
Posted by Pini Herman
Drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States. Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Among the most commonly abused are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma.
Jews have an unearned reputation for sobriety. The 1997 LA Jewish Population Survey found that one-in-forty, or 6000 LA Jewish households reported having at least one member who needed assistance with problems of alcohol or substance abuse. There is a higher acceptance of use of substances such as marijuana in the Jewish community than the general population.
The Jewish population is growing older and that does not mean a lessening of the problem. Even Biblical Noah turned to drink in his old age. Alcohol and substance abuse among the elderly is a hidden epidemic. It is believed that about 10% of this country’s population abuses alcohol, but surveys revealed that as many as 17% of the over-65 adults have an alcohol-abuse problem.
As we age as a community, the proportion of Jews who turn to alcohol and and substance abuse is certain to increase. Currently, my conservative estimate is that there are at least eight thousand Jewish households in Los Angeles having at least one member who need assistance with problems of alcohol or substance abuse.
It would not be surprising if there was a disproportionate number Jews dying of drug deaths within this general societal trend. Only a new Jewish population can confirm whether the problem has worsened in the past 14 years..
September 19, 2011 | 12:40 pm
Posted by Bruce Phillips
In honor of the Federation turning 100 and in anticipation of the upcoming Autry National Center exhibit on Jews of Los Angeles, I decided to look back to see where Jews lived using the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census data available from the University of Minnesota Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. These are the original interviews from the Census that can be released only after 70 years have passed to protect privacy. This series is extremely popular with genealogy buffs who can go back and find their grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, and so on. I identified Jews using a combination of born in Russia or having a Russian born parent, speaking Yiddish or having a Yiddish speaking parent, or having one of the 37 most common “Distinctive Jewish Names.” A Jew was defined as someone who met one of these three criteria.
The period 1920-1930 was a period of explosive growth both for Los Angeles and its Jewish community. The population of Los Angeles County more than doubled and the Jewish population more than tripled, growing from less than 30,000 in 1920 to more than 90,000 in 1930. In 1920 more than one in five Jews lived in downtown. By 1930 that percentage dropped to 7%, not because Jews were leaving downtown (the downtown Jewish population actually grew a bit), but because the new migrants to Los Angeles were pouring into the “East Side” (i.e. Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights). The East Side Jewish population grew more than seven-fold from 3,000 to almost 25,000. By 1930 one in four Los Angeles Jews lived in the East Side. Almost as many Jews (19,000) lived in Hollywood, Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Silverlake. Jews were more likely than non-Jews to live in these two areas.
By 1950 major changes were already underway. The Jewish move to the Valley was already taking off and the Fairfax area, which accounted for only 5% of Jews in 1930, would account for 17% twenty years later. At mid-century the leadership of the Jewish Community Council (which had not yet merged with the Federation) understood that 1950 was not the same as 1930, and commissioned the very first Jewish population study in Los Angeles in that same year. The forthcoming release of the 1940 IPUMS file, combined with 1920 and 1930, will provide a unique look at the formative years of what would become the second largest Jewish community in the United States.
|Atwater, Glassel Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock||1%||3%|
|Boyle Heights-Lincoln Heights||11%||26%|
|South of downtown (South of MLK, East of Figeuroa)||22%||10%|
|West Adams-University Park-Jefferson Park||10%||9%|
|Southwest LA (w. of Figueroa) Beach Cities-Inglewood||3%||7%|
|Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silverlake, & Echo Park||16%||20%|
|Bev Hills West LA Santa Monica||0%||2%|
|Midtown, Mid Wilshire, Westlake Park||9%||5%|
|Palms Mar Vista & Venice||0%||2%|
|San Fernando Valley, Burbank Glendale||0%||2%|
|Long Beach & Harbor area||4%||1%|
September 12, 2011 | 4:27 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
In 1997 LA had 13,600 Jewish households with elderly disabled persons. That number has surely increased as the Jewish community is aging in place and my conservative current guesstimate is that there are at least seventeen thousand Jewish households with elderly disabled persons in Los Angeles.
150 Adult Day Health Care Centers in Los Angeles are to lose state Medi-Cal funding as of December 1, 2011. The State of California has sent out the notices. The Jewish community will be especially hard hit with our disproportionate number of American-born and foreign-born elderly.
Adult day health care is a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being though social and health related services. Adult day care centers operate during daytime hours, Monday through Friday, in a safe, supportive, cheerful environment. Nutritious meals that accommodate special diets are typically included, along with an afternoon snack.
Adult day care centers can be public or private, non-profit or for-profit. The intent of an adult day center is primarily two-fold:
- To provide older adults an opportunity to get out of the house and receive both mental and social stimulation.
- To give caregivers a much-needed break in which to attend to personal needs, or simply rest and relax.
There are some attempts to challenge this loss of state funding, but it will be up to us, the local Jewish community to attempt to keep these vital services to the elderly going.
Adding insult to injury, elderly seeking to sit at a bus bench in LA may not find them easily. Norman Bench Advertising, which provides and manages the city’s roughly 6,000 bus benches, began removing them mid-August because it was not awarded a new contract by the City of LA.
Update: Adult day health-care centers get reprieve but will lose funding on Dec. 1
Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/jul/26/adult-day-health-care-centers-get-reprieve-but-1/#ixzz1hwv01ij9
September 5, 2011 | 2:20 pm
Posted by Pini Herman
Labor Day reminds us that Jews have been prominently associated with labor union membership, leadership and organizing. The urge to labor empowerment is strong and has often found expression in the Jewish community through the avenue of self-employment.
In Pre-WWII Europe and the US roughly half of all Jews were self-employed as compared to about a fifth of all non-Jews. Recently as 2000, about a quarter of Jewish workers in the US were self employed as compared to less than a tenth of non-Jewish workers.
In Los Angeles, the 1997 Jewish Population Survey found over a third of working Jews were self-employed as compared to 8 percent of the general population. 79 percent of LA Jews were employed in private businesses, 13 percent by government and 8 percent by non-profit organizations. Higher self-employment rates among Jews mean lower eligibility for the unemployment benefit safety net.
The 1997 Jewish unemployment rate of 3.4 percent was about half the unemployment rate of the general population. If the unemployment ratio has held for Jews, then currently the Los Angeles county unemployment rate is 13.3 percent and for Jews it is estimated at 6 percent of the Jewish working population or an estimated 25,000 unemployed LA Jews, with the largest concentrations in the Valley and then Fairfax area if historical LA patterns hold true.
As noted in a recent editorial in the Jewish Journal, current timely information hasn’t been gathered for 14 years, so these are at best, educated guesses regarding the needs of the community.
August 29, 2011 | 12:39 pm
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.
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.