Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Community study results released

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando held meetings Dec. 12 and Dec. 13 (at the Roth Family JCC and Rosen JCC, respectively) to discuss the results of the community study, conducted by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University with the assistance of UNH Survey Center.

The last study was done in 1993 – 28 years ago, and a lot has changed! There are 51,400 Jewish people (41,700 adults and 9,700 children) living in 25,500 Jewish households in Central Florida. In addition to population, topics covered in the 20-page summary include intermarriage; religion, engagement; Israel; antisemitism; and health, finances and education. The full report covers all of these topics in detail. Both reports are available on the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando website.

At the conclusion of the survey, there are several recommendations for the community:

• Reach beyond the historic geographic core of the community

Interestingly, the largest share (36 percent) of Jewish individuals live in the Southwest region. Twenty-six percent live in Maitland/Winter Park.

• Promote stronger collaboration among organizations

Ten percent of households belong to local Jewish organizations.

• Promote active ties to the local Jewish community

• Strengthen and expand leadership training programs

• Continue diversifying programs and institutions

• Invest in Jewish education

Ninety-nine percent of children in inmarried families are being raised Jewish. Overall, 71 percent of all children in Jewish households are being raised Jewish. Discussion was held at the Roth JCC meeting as to what “Jewish” meant. There was no clear definition. However, the survey shows that 42 percent light Shabbat candles; 38 percent hosted or attended a Shabbat meal; 98 percent light Chanukah candles; 66 percent attend a Passover seder in a typical year; 37 percent attend High Holidays in a typical year; and five percent keep a kosher home.

• Be sensitive to differences in backgrounds

Jewish demographics in the community include 5 percent Israeli citizens; 15 percent Hispanic, Latino or person of color; and 7 percent LGBTQ.

• Assist families and individuals in need

This survey was not really done at an optimum time, said Dr. Matthew Boxer, presenter at the Rosen JCC. From November 2020 to November 2021 when the survey was conducted, we were struggling through the pandemic, so the economic needs and insecurities probably would have been better in a previous year. According to the survey, 31 percent of Jewish households are in the $50,000 range; 30 percent range from $50,000-99,000; 17 percent, $100,000-149,000; eight percent, $150,000-199,000; and 14 percent, $200,000+. Sadly, 20 percent can’t make ends meet.

Health issues in the community: Seven percent of Jewish households include someone with chronic illness, special needs or disabilities. Older Jewish adults have a higher rate of health issues. The breakdown shown was: 52 percent with chronic illness; 43 percent with physical disabilities; 18 percent with mental illness; 12 percent with developmental disability; seven percent with intellectual disability; and 18 percent other disabilities.

This is just the “tip of the iceberg” as to all that the survey encompasses. It is available to everyone through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. Visit the website at orlandofederation.org or call 407-645-5933, ext. 236.


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