Borough Park

In Borough Park, Jewish children outnumber adults, and other takeaways from latest UJA study

UJA excluded “offensive” questions to boost Haredi participation.

A Hasidic family in Brooklyn. Credit: iStockPhoto/Masha Zolotukhina

May 15, 2024 2:45 PM


Among Jews in the Haredi enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn, children outnumbered adults, according to the newly released UJA-Federation of New York study of Jewish communities in New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. By their estimate, there were 50,000 Jewish children and 46,000 Jewish adults in the Haredi neighborhood in 2023.

The adult-to-child ratio is markedly different from that of less religious areas such as the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where the UJA found that the plurality of Jews are Reform and Jewish adults outnumber their children by a ratio of nearly 9 to 1. Hasidic communities are known to have high birth rates and as such, fast-growing populations; UJA’s previous study, released in 2011, found that Hasidic households had 12 times as many children as non-Orthodox homes.

The 2011 study analyzed Jewish communities based on their branches of Judaism, comparing Hasidic, Yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, and other communities. The new study analyzes communities based on ZIP codes, defining Borough Park as an area that stretches from 9th Avenue all the way down to Avenue P.

Meanwhile, UJA defined Williamsburg as an area where only 74% of Jewish households identified as Orthodox. The area stretches from north and East Williamsburg to the northern part of Bed-Stuy, which also includes part of Hasidic South Williamsburg. “Williamsburg is home to 36,000 Jewish adults and 32,000 Jewish children,” the UJA study says — a ratio that is likely skewed by non-Orthodox Jewish residents of the area, as non-Orthodox Jews tend to have fewer children.

In both Borough Park and Williamsburg, UJA said, most households made less than $50,000 per year, making them the poorest Jewish neighborhoods anywhere in the 8-county area. In both neighborhoods, about one tenth of respondents said they “sometimes” or “always” run out of food before they have money to buy more, based on samples of a few thousand households in each neighborhood. The percentage of food-insecure families was twice as high as the average for the entire area. This data fits in with the results of UJA’s 2011 study, in which it found that about two thirds of Hasidic households, and about one third of yeshivish ones, earned under $50,000 per year.

Yiddish letter sent to Haredi addresses in Brooklyn. Screenshot from UJA Community Study report.

The researchers behind the study, who work at the research company Social Science Research Solutions, made special efforts to recruit Haredi participation — at the cost of getting some potentially interesting answers.

For example, the researchers purposely avoided asking people in Haredi areas questions about “satisfaction with children’s education” and “LGBTQ identity” out of fear that these questions would either be “redundant” or Haredim would find them “offensive,” according to the published methodology report accompanying the study.

The UJA says it met with unnamed “members of the Haredi community” in order to determine which questions would be absent. Another strategy to boost Haredi participation was to make the survey available in Yiddish.