Exodus: Broward's Jewish Population Has Declined Dramatically

The number of Jews in Broward County decreased by about 55,000 people during the past decade. The population seems to be quite literally dying off, according to a University of Miami study that I just ran across.

The number of Jews in Broward has fallen from 240,000 in 1997 to about 185,800 today, according to the study by conducted by UM professor Ira Sheskin and funded by Beth Emet of Cooper City.

That's a drop of 23 percent, with most of it occurring during the past five years. There are now about 100,000 Jewish households in Broward, which represents a vanishing of 33,000 Jewish households since 1997. The percentage of people in Broward who live in Jewish households fell from 18 percent in 1997 to 12 percent today.

That's pretty dramatic stuff, but why? Well, the average age of the Jewish population in 1997 was 59. Sheskin determined that most of the loss in population was due to elderly retirees dying and apparently not being replaced with new retirees. The professor made no direct findings about Jewish migration to Broward, but indicated anecdotally that most new Jewish residents in South Florida appear to be living in south Palm Beach County.

The study -- an update of Sheskin's research in 1997 for the Jewish Federation of Broward County -- was released in March, but I saw no newspaper coverage of it. His findings were largely based on DJNs, or distinctive Jewish names. 

Despite the diminished population, Broward still has the eighth largest Jewish population in the U.S. and the largest in Florida. I find the study interesting mainly in the political sense; since the Jewish population has been the bedrock of Broward's Democratic Party for decades and certainly still is. I don't think that's going to change anytime real soon, but the county is definitely transforming. For instance, the non-hispanic white population also fell from 2000 to 2007,  by 11 percent (another dramatic figure). At the same time, the black population increased 28 percent, the Asian population increased 41 percent, and the Hispanic population more than doubled. 

Okay, enough democraphics for this morning. Fascinating stuff, though. Click here to see Sheskin's full study.   


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