Latino immigrants spark growth of Miamis Jewish population

For the first time in four decades, Miami Jewry is growing.

That’s the official finding of the new Miami Jewish population study released Oct. 13 by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Miami, where the Jewish population is no longer on the decline photo/jta-shutterstock

The Jewish population of Miami-Dade County increased 9 percent over the last decade, to 123,000 from 113,000 in 2004, according to the survey. That makes it slightly larger than the Jewish community of Atlanta and slightly smaller than West Palm Beach, Fla.

The findings confirm trends long suggested by anecdotal evidence, as Miami has become a magnet in recent years for Latin Americans, including Jews from Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Peru.

Miami has a higher proportion of foreign-born Jewish adults than any other American Jewish community, at 33 percent, according to the study; 51 percent of all of Miami’s 2.6 million residents are foreign-born. Researchers also found a 57 percent increase over the last decade in Hispanic Jewish adults in Miami.

The survey, titled “2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Study: A Portrait of the Miami Jewish Community,” presents the first concrete evidence of Jewish growth in Miami since 1975.

“In the past decade, we have seen a flow of new Jewish residents, as well as an increase in the length of residency in Miami,” Michelle Labgold, the federation’s chief planning officer, said in a statement. “This is significant news because Miami’s Jewish community experienced a steady decline in population between 1975 and 2004.”

Miami remains the smallest of the three heavily Jewish South Florida counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Together, their 550,000 or so Jews make up the third-largest Jewish metropolitan area in the nation, behind New York and Los Angeles, with the Bay Area fourth.

Of Miami’s foreign-born Jews, the largest group by far is Israeli. Some 5,180 Miami Jews were born in Israel, and approximately 9,000 adults consider themselves Israeli. About 3,700 Miami Jews were born in Cuba, 2,854 in Argentina, 2,643 in Venezuela, 2,537 in Colombia and 2,220 in Canada. — jta