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N.Y. Population Study Inflated, Says Top Demographer
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One of the world’s leading Jewish demographers says the number of Jews in New York is really about 100,000 less than indicated by the new Jewish Community Study of New York, commissioned by UJA-Federation. The New York study, released earlier this month, determined the Jewish population of the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester to be 1.54 million. But Sergio Della Pergola, professor of population studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told The Jewish Week that individuals who say they are Jewish yet do not have Jewish parents and who profess another religion should not be included as Jews. He said he based his position on the Israeli Supreme Court decision in the famous Brother Daniel case a half century ago in which a Catholic priest, born of Jewish parents, sought to be recognized as a Jew in Israel. The Court ruled against him. Della Pergola said the issue was significant because by his criteria, the Jewish community has not grown in the last 20 years but rather “has remained stable.” Steven M. Cohen, a demographer who helped conduct the survey, said the number of people Della Pergola is referring to is closer to 19,000, or about 1.2 percent. Jack Ukeles, head of Ukeles Associates, which helped conduct the new study, said that he and his fellow researchers interviewed a number of people who said they were partially Jewish, and others who first identified themselves as Jewish and in the course of the interview said they belonged to another religion. The “vast majority” of these people, Ukeles said, were children of intermarriages. “People have to realize that we are living in a different world, one where a lot of people have some connections to Jewish life. We came across hundreds of borderline cases. This is no longer a matter of black and white,” he noted, “not even gray.” He said he and his associates “agonized” over each of the complex cases and used a set of criteria to determine whether to include them as Jewish or not. Ukeles said the percentage of such cases was very small, but showed a significant increase over the last New York population study a decade ago. “It’s a very important issue and one that will only grow,” he said. “We as a community have to determine how we relate to these people who value their Jewish connection.”  

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07/03/2012 - 11:32
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Actually, the watering down of criteria for defining Jewishness indicates that the percentage of Orthodox Jews is even higher than the researchers would like to admit.

By the way, Della Pergola is the genius who was found to have grossly overcounted the Arab population in order to scare people into believing that an Arab majority in Israel was on the horizon---untrue.

Dear Sergio, Americans are not particularly interested in your definition of Jewish or Israel's definition of Jewish. There is no pope in judaism. We can choose in the diaspora what we want our definition to be without any help from you.

Whether it is 100,000 like Sergio Della Pergola said or 19,000 that Jack Ukeles said, (or recently Scott Shay called this group the "surprise 5% the "half tribe" who identified as Jewish in the study for whom neither parent was Jewish and never underwent a formal conversion, 77,000 New Yorkers have chosen to identify themselves as such) So probably Scott is right with that number. In any event, the number is meaningless as virtually all of these will marry non-Jews and leave no Jewish descendants. There are between one and two million Americans today who say they have some Jews in their ancestry and who today identify as Christian. Those numbers i saw in a Steven M Cohen study but since i don't i have the source for that study see this one which puts the number of Jews who have left Judaism for Christianity at 1.4 million. See The article explains that in many cases when a Jew marries a non-Jew the non-Orthodox Jew is less passionate about their religion than the Christian (esp when Catholic) and so often gives in when it comes time to raise their children - and often the Jew converts as well.

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