Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jewish Population Grows at Beaches; North Florida Has 16,000 Jews, Survey Discovers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jewish Population Grows at Beaches; North Florida Has 16,000 Jews, Survey Discovers

Article excerpt

Byline: Alliniece T. Andino, Times-Union staff writer

More of Northeast Florida's steadily-growing Jewish population is finding a home at the Beaches, a new demographic study shows.

Demographer Ira Sheskin presented highlights of the study, most likely the first of its kind, last night during a meeting of several Jacksonville Jewish agencies.

The entire 700-page study, scheduled to be completed in August, puts numbers behind what people in the Jewish community have believed for years.

Sheskin estimated that from 1994 to 2002, people living in Jewish households in Northeast Florida increased from 13,750 to about 16,000.

Jewish agencies, organizations and synagogues can now pinpoint how many Jewish households exist in Northeast Florida, which will help them when it comes to planning for the future, such as deciding what services to provide and where to build new synagogues.

The study is funded by the Jacksonville Jewish Federation, which would not disclose its cost. Studies in cities of a comparable size, range from $80,000 to $150,000.

The community is pretty well dispersed, said Sheskin, a geography professor and director of the Jewish Demography Project at the University of Miami.

Most Jewish households -- 64 percent -- are concentrated in a core area stretching south from San Jose in Jacksonville to northern St. Johns County. Although the core area has not lost its stronghold of the population, the Beaches area has doubled its Jewish population in the past eight years. A synagogue is being built in the area to accommodate the increase many had already believed was occurring.

Results of the demographic study show about 29 percent of Jews in the area were born in Jacksonville and the population is increasing by about 188 households each year.

"This is a well-rooted Jewish community," Sheskin said, guessing several families are third and fourth generation.

About 20 percent of the community is age 65 and older, which is unusual for an area that is not a retirement community, he said. …

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