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Jewish Population Growth Lags Behind

Shimmy Blum

The results of the 2010 United States Census are in. While the numbers reflect the solid growth of many of America’s minority groups, the Jews are not sharing in that growth. One prominent Jewish demographer contends that the Jewish downward spiral is due to some of the most dire, well-known threats that face our people.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

While the United States prides itself as the world’s economic and military superpower, its population growth is surprisingly anemic.

The newly released preliminary results of the 2010 census pegs the nation’s population at roughly 308 million, a 9.7 percent rise over the 2000 census’ count of 281 million; the lowest growth rate since the Great Depression.

The Census Bureau has yet to release exact sector breakdowns, but it is clear that minorities, particularly Hispanics, comprise a substantially larger percentage of the US population. Since 2000, minority groups’ population grew five times as fast whites. Roughly 13 million of the nation’s 27 million new residents are immigrants, mainly Hispanic. And the census didn’t even get a full count of the predominantly Hispanic illegal immigrant population.

One prominent American minority bucked the growth trend: the Jewish Nation. Its share of the population remained stuck around 2 percent. Though the census form didn’t include a box to check off one’s religion, several Jewish demographers and organizations have tracked American Jewish population data for decades based on several surveys. According to the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), America was home to 5.2 million Jews in 2000. Various estimates of the 2010 count were presented at the recent Association for Jewish Studies conference in Boston. Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola pegged the count at 5.3 million Jews, placing it behind the Israeli Jewish population of roughly 5.7 million.

However, two other analysts, each using a different methodology, came up with higher counts. Leonard Saxe, director of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, and Dr. Ira Sheskin, director of the Jewish Demography Project at the University of Miami, both estimate the Jewish population at roughly 6.5 million.


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