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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

Jews in New York City
ייִדן אין ניו יאָרק
יהודים בניו יורק
Jewish shopkeeper in New York City, circa 1929


As of 2016, about 1.1 million residents of New York City, or about 12% of its residents, were Jewish.[1]

Historical population of New York City
Year Jewish population of New York City
1654 23
1750 300
1850 16,000
1859 40,000
1880 80,000
1920 1,600,000
1950 2,000,000
1981 1,100,000[4]
1991 1,027,000[4]
2002 972,000[4][5]
2012 1,100,000[3]

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.[6]

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.[7] 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, have also lived in New York City since the late 19th century. Russian, Lithuanian, and Polish Jews immigrated during this mid-19th Century as well, in large numbers.[7] 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.[8][9] As of 2012, there are 1.1 million Jews in New York City.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] Within the greater New York metropolitan area, many rapidly growing Orthodox Jewish communities have made their home in New Jersey, particularly in Lakewood and surrounding Ocean County, where Beth Medrash Govoha, the world's largest yeshiva outside Israel, is located.[13]

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.

Organizations such as The Agudath Israel of America, The Orthodox Union, Chabad, and The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute have their headquarters in New York.

While the majority of Jews in New York City are white Ashkenazi Jews, 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]



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.[17] 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 Dutch Brazil ( 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.[18]

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.[18]

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.[18] Even though by 1720 the Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim,[19] the Sephardi customs were retained.[18]

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.[20] 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.[21] New York City would later become host to several seminaries of various denominations, where rabbis could be ordained, by the 1920s.[22]

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[21] (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,[23] was established.[21]

Jewish days schools began to appear in the 19th century across the United States, the first being the Polonies Talmud Torah in 1821.[24]


European Jewish immigrants arriving in New York in 1887

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,"[25] 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 the United States,[26]:364–5 more than a million of them to New York.[27]:1076

Eastern Ashkenazi 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.[28]

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.[29]

These immigrants tended to be young and relatively irreligious, and were generally skilled – especially in the clothing industry,[30]:253–4 which would soon dominate New York's economy.[31] By the end of the nineteenth century, Jews "dominated related fields such as the fur trade."[30]:254

The German Jews, who were often wealthy by this time, did not much appreciate the eastern Ashkenazi arrivals, and moved to uptown Manhattan en masse, away from the Lower East Side where most of the immigrants settled.[26]:370–2 Still, many of these immigrants worked in factories owned by the first class of Jews.[19]


In 2019, two American Jews from Brooklyn became the first non-Israelis to receive the Civil Exemplary Decoration in Israel for intervening in an attack. Their assistance allowed the police officer, a member of Israel's Druze community to shoot and kill his assailant despite having been stabbed and wounded.[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Heilman, Uriel (April 18, 2016). "7 things to know about the Jews of New York for Tuesday's primary". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Morris, Tanisia (December 12, 2017). "Tracing the History of Jewish Immigrants and Their Impact on New York City". Fordham Newsroom. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (June 11, 2012). "After Declining, New York City's Jewish Population Grows Again". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Berger, Joseph (June 16, 2003). "City Milestone: Number of Jews Is Below Million". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "Jewish population dips in NYC - Jun. 17, 2003". CNN. June 17, 2003. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "Jew York City: NYC Has More Chosen People Than Boston, Chicago, Philly, SF & DC Combined!". Gothamist. 2012-06-12. Archived from the original on 2015-12-23. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  7. ^ a b Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States: 1654 to 2000. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  8. ^ "Exhaustive Study Finds Booming Jewish Population In Brooklyn". Gothamist. 2013-01-18. Archived from the original on 2015-12-25. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  9. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone (2012-06-26). "Nearly one in four Brooklyn residents are Jews, new study finds". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  10. ^ Berger, Joseph (2012-06-11). "After Declining, New York City's Jewish Population Grows Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  11. ^ Haredi Orthodox neighborhood has NYC’s highest birth rate JTA, 27 April 2015
  12. ^ Jonathan Bandler, Steve Lieberman, and Richard Liebson (January 9, 2016). "Ramapo nears breaking point"., part of the USA TODAY network. Retrieved January 9, 2016.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Steve Strunsky (April 16, 2019). "Lakewood yeshiva looks to use old golf course for new campus". New Jersey On-Line LLC. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  14. ^ "Jews Of Color Cite Racism In Community". The Times of Israel. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  15. ^ "Central Asian Jews Create 'Queensistan'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "Georgia on Their Mind: Expats Forced To Juggle Dueling Identities". The Forward. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  17. ^ Levine, Dr. Yitzchok (August 3, 2005). "Glimpses Into American Jewish History (Part 5)". The Jewish Press. Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d Peck, Abraham J. "Jewish New York: The Early Years". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  19. ^ a b Sussman, Lance J. "New York Jewish History". New York State Archives. Archived from the original on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  20. ^ Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  21. ^ a b c "New York". Jewish Encyclopedia. IX. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. 1906. pp. 259–91. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  22. ^ Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States: 1654 to 2000. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  23. ^ "Mount Sinai Medical Center". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  24. ^ Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States: 1654 to 2000. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 143. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  25. ^ Jewish Chronicle, May 6, 1881, cited in Benjamin Blech, Eyewitness to Jewish History
  26. ^ a b Johnson, Paul (1987). A History of the Jews. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-060-91533-9.
  27. ^ "New York City". Encyclopaedia Judaica. 12. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House. 1971. pp. 1062–1123.
  28. ^ Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States. Berkeley: University of California. p. 123. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  29. ^ Diner, Hasia (2004). The Jews of the United States: 1654 to 2000. Berkeley: University of California. p. 113. ISBN 0-520-22773-5.
  30. ^ a b Rubinstein, Hilary L.; Cohn-Sherbok, Dan; Edelheit, Abraham J.; Rubinstein, William D. (2002). "Jews in Britain and the United States". The Jews in the Modern World: A History since 1750. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-340-69163-8.
  31. ^ "New York City". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  32. ^ "Two Americans Honored by Israel for Helping Police Officer During Jerusalem Terror Attack".

Further readingEdit

  • Deborah Dash Moore, City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York. In Three Volumes. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

External linksEdit