Orthodox Population Grows Faster Than First Figures in Pew #JewishAmerica Study

27% of Jewish Children Are Orthodox Homes — Huge Jump

getty images

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published November 12, 2013, issue of November 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The Orthodox population is growing even faster than earlier reports from the Pew Research Center’s recent survey of American Jews suggested.

A new analysis of data from Pew finds that 27% of Jews younger than 18 live in Orthodox households. That’s a dramatic jump from Jews aged 18 to 29, only 11% of whom are Orthodox.

“Orthodox birthrates in just the last few years have been soaring,” said Jewish sociologist Steven M. Cohen, who requested the new data from Pew. “The sky is falling for the rest of the population.”

Pew Survey! Click Here! Click for more on the survey.

Previously published Pew data suggested that growth among the Orthodox was tempered by high dropout rates. No data was previously available on the proportion of Jewish children in Orthodox homes. The new figures show that the demographics of today’s Jewish children are radically different from those of even today’s Jewish young adults.

“There is a trend afoot, and in the next big population survey like this, we will see the beginning of a switch, whereby Orthodox Jews will eventually likely be the majority of American Jews,” said Sarah Bunin Benor, a professor of Jewish studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She, like Cohen, was a member of the Pew study’s advisory committee.

The Pew report was based on interviews with 3,500 Jews across the United States. In its analysis of its research, Pew described a gradual decrease in Jewish identity among the non-Orthodox, and a gradual rise in the overall proportion of Jews who identify as Orthodox. The study reported that 10% of Jews were Orthodox, just 2% higher than a roughly approximate study 10 years ago.

The new numbers give those findings a different cast.

As a proportion of the community, the Orthodox population more than doubles when you compare the demographic slice of middle-aged Jews with that of Jewish children based on the new data, according to Cohen. “Every year, the Orthodox population has been adding 5,000 Jews,” Cohen said. “The non-Orthodox population has been losing 10,000 Jews.”

The nationwide findings are in line with a 2012 study by UJA-Federation of New York. The study reported that 60% of Jewish children in the New York City area live in Orthodox homes.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.