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Chicago Jewish population sees 8 percent growth

JTA

July 19, 2011 | 11:05 am

The Chicago Jewish community grew by 8 percent over the past decade, or more than 21,000 people, according to a new demographic study.

The study, which the Jewish United Fund and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago commissions every 10 years, found that the number of Jews living in the Chicago area increased for a third consecutive decade, to 291,800.

Chicago’s overall population over the same period grew by only 3.5 percent.

The study comes as local Jewish federations have released or are conducting a flurry of demographic studies and the Jewish Federations of North America organization has moved away from surveying the Jewish community on a national level.

A survey released recently by the Portland-area federation in Oregon found a Jewish population of 47,500—more than double the number of Jews that community leaders had believed were living in the city area.

The Chicago study also found that intermarriage had increased from 30 percent in 2000 to 37 percent in 2010, and that more than 90,000 of the 148,100 Jewish households had at least one non-Jewish member.

At the same time, the survey found that half of interfaith families are raising their children only Jewish. Previously only a third had been raising children solely in the Jewish faith.

Among other findings, half of Chicago Jews have been to Israel, 86 percent of children aged 6-18 have had a formal Jewish education and nearly all the respondents said that being Jewish was important to them.

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