Study shows Jewish population in Philadelphia area is growing, more diverse

Andrew Kramer
February 11, 2020 - 7:58 pm
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia announces results of a new survey.

Courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Every 10 years, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia takes a look at the Jewish population in Philadelphia and the suburbs, and the results of the most recent study were released Tuesday.

"We found that the (Jewish) community is larger than we had originally thought," said the Federation's COO Steven Rosenberg.

The study found there are over 350,000 Jewish people and almost 200,000 Jewish households in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. That's a 66% increase from the last time this study was done.

As of now, Jewish people make up nearly 10% of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

But Rosenberg said this survey isn't just about the size of the community.

"We dug deep," he told KYW Newsradio. "We went into where they are spread out, what some of their health needs are, what some of their attitudes are around Israel, how they celebrate holidays, how they identify themselves as Jews."

Some examples of results from the study include finding nearly half of Jewish people studied are in an interfaith marriage, and just over half of Jewish households have someone in their home who has been diagnosed with a physical health condition.

But one the biggest findings for Rosenberg in terms of surprise factor was in regards to diversity.

"We found that the community is more diverse than we had anticipated," he admitted. "Almost 10% of the population are Jews of color, which is a growing subset."

There were also more Jewish people in Delaware County than he would have guessed.

It's statistics like this that Rosenberg said is the reason they do this study. 

"We have 90 synagogues in our region, we have dozens of Jewish agencies that we allocate grants to over the course of the year," he said. "This data will allow us to be even more planful as we make these allocations. So we might spend over the course of the next few years more attention in Delaware County than we ever thought."

There were over 2,100 people who responded to this latest survey, which was done from January 2019 to July 2019. That's more responses than they ever got, which Rosenberg attributes to better technology this time around.

He said because of this improved technology, they will consider doing this study more often than once every 10 years.