The Graying of Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Jewish community, once the 4th largest in the U.S., is aging and the number of children shrinking.

Despite apparent growth in the overall community, these are two of the findings to come out of the just released 2009 “Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia,” commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

In some ways, Philadelphia’s fortunes follow national trends, and in others Philly continues to buck the norm. One example of the latter, a plurality of Jews reside within the city, as opposed to the suburban area. Though Montgomery County has almost closed the gap.

As to philanthropic giving, including to Federation, this from the Executive Summary:

“Jewish households in the Greater Philadelphia area appear to be as likely to have contributed to a charity or cause in the past year, on average, as those in other local areas across the country. The same appears to be true for donations to Jewish organizations/causes by Jewish area households and other Jewish households across the county. A higher percentage of Philadelphia area households contributed to organizations which were not specifically Jewish than did most of the other communities surveyed.

In the past year, the majority of Jewish households contributed to a charitable organization. Fifty-eight percent contributed to some Jewish charitable organization. A small percentage did not give to any charitable cause in the past year.

The largest percentage of households contributed between $100 and $500. Eleven percent reported contributions between $1,000 and $5,000. Four percent contribute $5,000 or more. Montgomery and Bucks counties report the highest percentage of households giving to Jewish organizations.

Giving to Federation appears to be associated with length of time in the area, inmarried households, and higher income. Giving to Federation has declined 8 percentage points since the last Philadelphia survey. Finances were cited as the top reason for not contributing to Federation.

Support for local social services was identified by respondents as the top priority for Federation.

While the majority of Jewish households report having sufficient financial resources to meet their needs, 2% are unable to ”make ends meet.” Four percent of Jewish households in Greater Philadelphia have had to cut the size of meals or skip meals for financial reasons; 9% indicated that financial cost prevented them from obtaining medical or counseling services; and 4% received food stamps. In terms of future concerns, over half of respondents are either very or somewhat concerned about being able to live independently…

Seventy-two percent reported that either they or their partner/spouse have a will or estate plan. Twelve percent have a will with a provision for a charity or cause, and a smaller percentage [5%] indicated that that provision included a Jewish charity or cause. The percentage of individuals having a will or estate plan with a provision for a Jewish charity or cause is lower in the Greater Philadelphia area than it is in other Jewish communities.”

Here’s the complete executive summary of the Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia 2009.