Soaring Jewish population has nucleus in Seattle’s new inner city

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The 2014 Light the Night celebration at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium brought out some spectacular holiday finery

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Seattle’s central neighborhoods have the densest population of Jewish households in the metropolitan area, and the numbers are growing.

According to a recent study (PDF), the number of Jews in greater Seattle has increased 70% since 2001, the last time a similar study was conducted. The Jewish population boom is outpacing Seattle’s overall growth. The city’s roughly 33,000 Jews now outnumber residents claiming Norwegian ancestry. The Seattle Times reported on the trends last week.

According to the report, much of the growth has come from Jewish individuals and families moving into the city — only 23% were born in the area. Seattle’s availability of skilled jobs, progressive culture, and well educated population appears to have been a main driver in the Jewish population boom. 89% of Jewish adults surveyed had a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. Researchers estimated the total Jewish population in the greater Seattle area today to be around 63,400.

The exhaustive study was commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. On Wednesday, researchers from Brandeis University will be presenting their findings at Capitol Hill’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai. The event is free, but attendees must RSVP.

The highest density of Jewish households in the city was found around the 98122 zip code, which includes Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Madrona. In addition to the younger newcomers, Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Capitol Hill’s Temple de Hirsch Sinai said  the return of Baby Boomers to the city has been a major factor.

“A lot of older folks who may have lived in Mercer Island or Bellevue, a lot of them are coming back to Madrona, Capitol hill, the Madison Valley area now that their kids are out of the house,” he said.

It’s a reversal of some ugly recent history. In December, CHS reported on the many covenants found in Seattle neighborhoods including Capitol Hill in the mid-20th century that barred people of certain racial and religious backgrounds from buying property in the areas.

The new study also found 17% of Jewish households were located in “southeast Seattle” which includes 98122, 98144, 98118 zip codes. One quarter of the adult Jewish population in the area is between the ages of 18-34.

About half of the respondents not born in Seattle said work was their primary reason for moving here, while 22% identified quality of life as their main reason.

The highest proportion of Orthodox Jews live in the Southeast area (18%), but secular/cultural Jews made up the largest percent in the area (30%).

“Everybody wants to live in a thriving, growing community,” Weiner said. “It’s an incredible wonderful sign for the Seattle area in general, and the Jewish community in particular.”

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15 thoughts on “Soaring Jewish population has nucleus in Seattle’s new inner city

  1. Glad to see that one wealthy group is acceptable in their gentrification of the central district.But godforbid if they are white recovering Christian males who have studied computer science.
    ..

  2. As a Jew who lives in Central Seattle, I feel that the Jewish neighborhoods and Jewish institutions are mostly elsewhere and have not responded yet to the choice of many Jews to live in more dense urban areas. Seattle’s Judaism is stuck in the suburbs.

  3. Mimi-Next year(we should live and be well) you can buy Chanukah candles at Red Balloon on 15th. They have candles that are longer, imported from Egypt, nice colors, and $12 a box!!! I was desperate so I bought them. But the price gave me pause. Not to mention apoplexy and a strong impulse to convert. Zei Gezunt.