Just The Facts

Posted on December 20, 2011 by

A blog post by historian Dr. Deb Weiner.

 

The North American Jewish Data Bank’s report on the Jewish Population in the United States appeared in my Inbox today. It’s a compilation of recent studies from Jewish communities around the nation. I’d already seen the results of the Baltimore study (completed last year), but found myself looking through the Data Bank’s summary, compelled by its comparative approach. I thought I’d share a few fascinating facts.

Baltimore has the 13th largest Jewish community in the United States.

108,100 persons live in 42,500 Jewish households in Baltimore, of whom 93,400 persons (86%) are Jewish.

Jewish households comprise 7% of all households inBaltimore(9% inBaltimoreCounty, 5% in the City ofBaltimore, and 3% in Carroll County). 

From 1999-2010, the number of Jewish households inBaltimoreincreased by 16%, from 36,600 households to 42,500 households, while the number of Jews increased by only 2%, from 91,400 Jews to 93,400 Jews.

33% (31,100) of Jews live inPikesville; 14% (13,000) live in Park Heights-Cheswolde; and 13% (12,100) live in Owings Mills. These are the three largest areas of Jewish residence. 75% of Jews live in five contiguous zip code areas in Baltimore.

The number of Jews age 85 and over inBaltimore increased from 1,500 persons in 1999 to 3,900 persons in 2010.

Of adults in Jewish households, 52% were born in Baltimore; 38% were born elsewhere in the United States; and 10% were foreign born, including 4% in the Former Soviet Union. The 52% locally born is the sixth highest of about 45 comparison Jewish communities. The high percentage locally born leads to strong community attachments on the part of many Jews in Baltimore.

Overall, 27% of Jewish respondents identify as Reform; 25% identify as Conservative; 21% identify as Orthodox; 20% identify as Just Jewish; 5% identify as Traditional; and 1% identify as Reconstructionist.

While 21% of respondents identify as Orthodox, 32% of Jews in Baltimore live in Orthodox households because the average household size of Orthodox households is larger than that of other households and almost all persons in Orthodox households are Jewish.

Among about 55 comparison Jewish communities, the 21% Orthodox respondents is the highest, the 25% Conservative is about average, the 27% Reform is the eighth lowest, and the 20% Just Jewish is well below average.

The 21% Orthodox increased from 17% in 1999, and the 30% Conservative/Traditional decreased from 33%. The 27% Reform decreased from 36% in 1999, and the 20% Just Jewish increased from 13%. Changes in Jewish identification from 1999-2010 may be due, in part, to changes in the manner in which the question was asked.

While 87% of Jewish respondents under age 35 who identify as Orthodox are married, only 15% of respondents under age 35 who do not identify as Orthodox are married.

Among about 55 comparison Jewish communities, Baltimore has an average percentage of households who always/usually participate in a Passover Seder (76%) and always/usually light Chanukah candles (75%), but has the highest percentage who always/usually light Sabbath candles (36%) and the third highest percentage who keep a kosher home (26%).

The 20% of married couples in Jewish households in Baltimore who are intermarried is well below average among about 55 comparison Jewish communities and compares to 17% in 1999.

Baltimore has an average percentage of households who are current synagogue members (46%) among about 55 comparison Jewish communities.

From 1999-2010, the median household income of Jewish households in Baltimore decreased from $90,000 (adjusted for inflation to 2009 dollars) to $76,000. The median household income of households with children decreased from $108,000 in 1999 to $82,000 in 2010. The $48,000 median household income of households age 65 and over did not change significantly since 1999.

The 40% of Jewish households in Baltimore who donated to the local Jewish Federation in the past year is about average among about 55 comparison Jewish communities and decreased from 53% in 1999. The average donation to the local Jewish Federation per household is $728, which is the fifth highest of about 55 comparison Jewish communities.

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