Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Leading Indicator Celebrate the Growth of Region's Jewish Community

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Leading Indicator Celebrate the Growth of Region's Jewish Community

Article excerpt

There is new evidence of the region's growing vibrancy. It came Wednesday in a report commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh that showed growth in a five-county area's Jewish population. This is a feather in Pittsburgh's cap, a sign not only of economic and cultural growth but of the area's welcoming climate and capacity for expanding its middle class.

The survey counted 49,200 Jews in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties, up 17 percent since 2002. The region's high-tech economy is believed to have fueled the increase. Of 186 survey respondents who moved to Pittsburgh over the past five years, the greatest number, 72, said they came for jobs while the second-greatest number, 55, cited university studies.

This correlates with factors driving growth of the Jewish populations in other cities and the decline of Jewish communities in others.A story posted last February on the website of the Orthodox Union cited a "broad job market in all industries, especially in the medical, legal, hospitality and defense industries," as a key reason for growth of the Orthodox population in Orlando, Fla.On the other hand, decline has decimated many congregations in old industrial centers and prompted the closing in December of Temple Hadar Israel in New Castle after nearly 125 years.. The synagogue's 300-year-old Torah, smuggled out of Poland during the Cold War, was moved to Hillel Jewish University Center in Oakland.

The growth of the Jewish population must reflect more than the economy, however. To sustain a Jewish community, the region must have grocery stores and restaurants for those seeking to meet dietary requirements. It must have a sufficient number of schools for those who opt to enroll their children in faith-based instruction. The broader population must be receptive to religious and ethnic diversity. …

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