Len Saxe is correct (“Leading Demographer Questioning New York Population Study,” July 27). The Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 overestimates the number of Orthodox children ages 5-17 in day schools in the eight-county New York area.
New York State Education Department enrollment data, which are consistent with the Avi Chai day school report referenced by Saxe, confirm this. The study estimate of 133,000 Orthodox children in day school not only exceeds the actual 2010-2011 enrollment of 92,763 New York residents in the eight county New York area in Orthodox-sponsored schools by 40,237, or 42 percent, but also exceeds the total enrollment of New York residents in all Jewish-affiliated nonpublic schools in New York State by 6,688.
Also, membership data available on the Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism websites show far lower membership numbers than the study estimates: 30,107 Reform-affiliated households (the UJA-Federation study number was 62,000) and a range of 22,950 to 41,262 Conservative-affiliated households (compared to the study’s figure of 77,000).
What implications might these overestimates have?
The UJA-Federation study estimates the Orthodox population in the eight-county New York area to be 493,000, of which 27 percent or 133,000, are children ages 5-17 in day school. Using the same percentage age distribution as the study, an estimate of the Orthodox population based on the actual NYSED count of 92,763 children enrolled in Orthodox schools in the eight county New York area yields a total Orthodox population of 343,948, significantly lower than the study estimate.
The study estimates the number of Jews living in Reform-affiliated households to be 154,000 and in Conservative-affiliated households to be 191,000, with an average of 2.48 Jews per households. Using the same average number of 2.48 Jews per household, the denomination-based estimates of 74,516 Jews living in Reform-affiliated households and a range of 56,928 to 102,351 Jews living in Conservative-affiliated households in the eight county New York area are, again, significantly lower than the study estimates.