|Jews in New York City|
Jewish shopkeeper in New York City, circa 1929
Jews in New York City comprise approximately 13 percent of the city's population, making the Jewish community the largest in the world outside of Israel. As of 2014 , 1.1 million Jews live in the five boroughs of New York City, and 2 million Jews live in New York state overall. Jews have immigrated to New York City since the first settlement in Dutch New Amsterdam in 1654, most notably at the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, when the Jewish population rose from about 80,000 in 1880 to 1.5 million in 1920. The large Jewish population has led to a significant impact on the culture of New York City. After many decades of decline in the 20th century, the Jewish population of New York City has seen a sharp increase in the 21st century owing to the high birth rate of the Hasidic and Orthodox communities.
|Year||Jewish population of New York City|
There are approximately 1.5 million Jews in the New York metropolitan area, making it the second largest metropolitan Jewish community in the world, after the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area in Israel (however, Tel Aviv proper has a smaller population of Jews than New York City proper, making New York City the largest community of Jews in the world within a city proper). New York City's Jewish population is more than Chicago's, Philadelphia's, San Francisco's, and Washington, D.C.'s combined Jewish populations.
The number of Jews in New York City soared throughout the beginning of the 20th century and reached a peak of 2 million in the 1950s, when Jews constituted one-quarter of the city's population. New York City's Jewish population then began to decline because of low fertility rates and migration to suburbs and other states, particularly California and Florida. Though there were small Jewish communities throughout the United States by the 1920s, New York City was host to about 45% of the entire population of American Jews. A new wave of Ashkenazi and Bukharian Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union began arriving in the 1980s and 1990s. Sephardic Jews, including Syrian Jews and other Jews of non-European origin, have also lived in New York City since the late 19th century. Jews of Eastern European descent - namely, Russian, Lithuanian, and Polish - immigrated during this mid-19th Century as well, in large numbers. Many Jews, including the newer immigrants, have settled in Queens, south Brooklyn, and the Bronx, where at present most live in middle-class neighborhoods. The number of Jews is especially high in Brooklyn, where 561,000 residents--one out of four inhabitants--is Jewish. As of 2012 , there are 1.1 million Jews in New York City.Borough Park, known for its large Orthodox Jewish population, had 27.9 births per 1,000 residents in 2015, making it the neighborhood with the city's highest birth rate. However, the most rapidly growing community of American Orthodox Jews is located in Rockland County and the Hudson Valley of New York, including the communities of Monsey, Monroe, New Square, Kiryas Joel, and Ramapo.
In 2002, an estimated 972,000 Ashkenazic Jews lived in New York City and constituted about 12% of the city's population. New York City is also home to the world headquarters of the Chabad, Bobover, and Satmar branches of Hasidism, and other traditional orthodox branches of Judaism. While three-quarters of New York Jews do not consider themselves religiously observant, the Orthodox community is rapidly growing due to the high birth rates of Hasidic Jews, while the numbers of Conservative and Reform Jews are declining.
While the majority of Jews in New York City are Ashkenazi Jewish, many Jewish New Yorkers identify as Asian, Black, Latino, or Multiracial. According to a 2011 community study conducted by the UJA-Federation of New York, 12% of Jewish households in the city are non-white or biracial, as all ethnic Jews have Levantine ancestry.
Many Central Asian Jews, predominantly Bukharian Jews from Uzbekistan, have settled in the Queens neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Briarwood. As of 2001, an estimated 50,000 Bukharian Jews resided in Queens. Queens is also home to a large Georgian-American community of about 5,000, around 3,000 of whom are Georgian Jews. Queens has the third largest population of Georgian Jews in the world after Israel and Georgia. Forest Hills is home to the Congregation of Georgian Jews, the only Georgian-Jewish synagogue in the United States.
The first recorded Jewish settler in New York was Jacob Barsimson, who arrived in August 1654 on a passport from the Dutch West India Company. A month later, a group of Jews to come to New York, then the colony New Amsterdam, as refugees from Recife, Brazil. Portugal had just re-conquered what is now known of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco from the Netherlands, and the Sephardi Jews there promptly fled. Most went to Amsterdam, but 23 headed for New Amsterdam instead. Governor Peter Stuyvesant was at first unwilling to accept them but succumbed to pressure from the Dutch West India Company -- itself pressed by Jewish stockholders -- to let them remain. Nevertheless, he imposed numerous restrictions and taxes on his Jewish subjects. Eventually, many of these Jews left.
When the British took the colony from the Dutch in 1664, the only Jewish name on the requisite oath of loyalty given to residents was Asser Levy. This is the only record of a Jewish presence at the time, until 1680 when some of Levy's relatives arrived from Amsterdam shortly before he died.
The first synagogue, the Sephardi Congregation Shearith Israel, was established in 1682, but it did not get its own building until 1730. Over time, the synagogue became dominant in Jewish life, organizing social services and mandating affiliation for all New York Jews. Even though by 1720 the Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim, the Sephardi customs were retained.
An influx of German and Polish Jews followed the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The increasing number of Ashkenazim led to the founding of the city's second synagogue, B'nai Jeshurun, in 1825. The late arrival of synagogues can be attributed to a lack of rabbis. Those who were interested in training as a Rabbi could not do so in America before this part of the century. Several other synagogues followed B'nai Jeshurun in rapid succession, including the first Polish one, Congregation Shaare Zedek, in 1839. In 1845, the first Reform temple, Congregation Emanu-El of New York opened. New York City would later become host to several seminaries of various denominations, where rabbis could be ordained, by the 1920s.
By this time numerous communal aid societies were formed. These were usually quite small, and a single synagogue might be associated with more than a few such organizations. Two of the most important of these merged in 1859 to form the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Asylum Society (Jewish orphanages were constructed on 77th Street near 3rd Avenue and another in Brooklyn). In 1852 the "Jews' Hospital" (renamed in 1871 Mount Sinai Hospital), which would one day be considered one of the best in the country, was established.
Jewish days schools began to appear in the 19th century across the United States, the first being the Polonies Talmud Torah in 1821.
The 36 years beginning in 1881 experienced the largest wave of immigration to the United States ever. Following the assassination of Alexander II of Russia, for which many blamed "the Jews," there was a vast increase in anti-Jewish pogroms there – possibly with the support of the government – and numerous anti-Jewish laws were passed. The result was that over 2 million Jews immigrated to America,:364-5 more than a million of them to New York.:1076
Eastern European Jews and their culture flourished at this time. There was influx emigration from countries such as Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. Their congregations and businesses - namely shops selling Old World goods - firmly maintained their identity, language, and customs.
New York was the publishing city of the Yiddish newspaper, Forverts, first published in 1897. Several other Jewish newspapers followed and were being produced in common Jewish languages, such as Ladino, Yiddish, and Hebrew.
These immigrants tended to be young and relatively irreligious, and were generally skilled – especially in the clothing industry,:253-4 which would soon dominate New York's economy. By the end of the nineteenth century, Jews "dominated related fields such as the fur trade.":254
The German Jews, who were often wealthy by this time, did not much appreciate the eastern European arrivals, and moved to uptown Manhattan en masse, away from the Lower East Side where most of the immigrants settled.:370-2 Still, many of these immigrants worked in factories owned by the first class of Jews.