Jewish Journal

The New New York Jewish Community Study and LA Trends: Population

by Pini Herman

June 19, 2012 | 3:19 pm

The New York Jewish Community Study, 2011 may or may not hint at Los Angeles Jewish trends.

In the 15 year absence of an updated Los Angeles Jewish population study, it might be instructive to conjecture whether trends that were captured in the just released demographic study of New York Jews might be relevant here.  As researcher Amy Sales has documented, the New York Federation has again inspired research across the nation. Here on the left coast the LA Federation, as Rob Eshman pointed out in this week’s Jewish Journal editorial, still hasn’t been inspired and is continuing to fly blind.

In New York after a decrease from about 2 million Jews in 1970 to 1.4 million in both 1991 and 2002, the region’s Jewish population increased to 1.54 million in 2011, reflecting higher numbers of both children and elderly.

Los Angeles has not had a decline in population since 1970 and actually part of LA’s Jewish growth may have been because New Yorkers migrating west.  NY experienced only slight growth in the last decade, fueled by the elderly living longer and a large number of Orthodox births.  LA is probably also aging in place, but as LA doesn’t have a large number of young Orthodox household having babies, LA would be dependent for an increased influx of Jewish migrants from other US communities or abroad.  That doesn’t seem likely so my guess is that LA’s Jewish population may be stable at about a half-million or slightly declining.

As is happening in NY, while Jews remain as a growing proportion of non-Hispanic whites in the urban area as the numbers of non-Jewish non-Hispanic whites decline. Jews continue to be dwarfed by other growing ethnic groups, e.g. Latinos and Asians, both new immigrants and second generation.  This has political implications both in NY and LA where most vividly its being played out with two Democratic Jewish congressman, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman vying for the same district resulting from their avoiding contending against a Latino candidate in a newly created adjacent “Latino” district.

Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography,  Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work,  Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position (and author of the “most recent” 15 year old study of the LA Jewish population which was the third most downloaded study from Berman Jewish Policy Archives in 2011) and is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: pini00003@gmail.com To follow Pini on Twitter:

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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