January 17, 2013 | 12:32 pm
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.
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