Shifting demographics: Young Jewish families trade NYC for new horizons

New study finds a 47% uptick in Jewish day-school enrollment from New York to Florida, as the transformation reshapes the demographics of Jewish communities across states

In a notable shift over recent years, young Jewish families are bidding farewell to the bustling neighborhoods of New York City and embarking on journeys to neighboring New Jersey and southward to the sun-soaked land of Florida.
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A fresh study from the Teach Coalition’s Institute for Jewish Education Policy and Research unveils a decline in enrollment within New York's yeshivas and Jewish kindergartens since 2015, juxtaposed with a notable surge in Jewish kindergarten enrollment in other states like Florida—where, for instance, Jewish day school enrollment surged by an impressive 47%. This shift is attributed to the allure of lower living costs and tuition fees, resonating with the rising desire for Aliyah—families seeking a fresh start in Israel. The study paints a portrait of families embracing novel educational landscapes and striving for financial relief while casting their sights toward diverse horizons.
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אילוס יהודים חרדים בברוקלין, ניו יורק, ארה''ב
אילוס יהודים חרדים בברוקלין, ניו יורק, ארה''ב
Jews in New York
(Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky /
A trend that's been gaining momentum, researchers say that this migration is driven by the Jewish young families' desire to provide their children with more accessible education options and a lifestyle that doesn't impose the economic burdens of their former abode. “We have heard anecdotally that Jewish parents are leaving New York due to the high cost of living and tuition. Using hard data, this report largely confirms these anecdotes,” says Gabriel Aaronson, director of the Office of Jewish Education Policy and Research.
The new study unveils the transformation that has been quietly reshaping the demographics of Jewish communities across states. While New York was once considered a bastion of educational opportunities and cultural connectivity for Jewish families, the allure of states such as Florida has grown stronger in recent years.
One of the defining elements that have sparked this shift, according to the researchers, is the increasing demand for school choice. Families are increasingly finding themselves drawn to states that offer more flexible educational options for their children, allowing them to tailor their learning experiences to individual needs. The exodus from New York to Florida, in particular, has seen a striking 47% uptick in Jewish day-school enrollment since 2016, following the implementation of universal scholarship programs.
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אילוס יהודים חרדים בניו יורק, ארה''ב
אילוס יהודים חרדים בניו יורק, ארה''ב
New York
(Photo: Wirestock Creators /
"Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, and West Virginia are also leading the pack and will reap the benefits”, said Maury Litwack, Founder of Teach Coalition. “By contrast, the states without a path toward school choice, without options and opportunity for families and children, risk being left behind—literally”.
The study tracked the trends in enrollment and tuition costs over the past few decades. While New York's yeshivah and Jewish day-school enrollment surged impressively from 2000 to 2021, with a robust growth rate of +3.5% annually from 2005 to 2015, a slowdown was noted after 2015. The average annual growth rate in New York's Jewish schools subsequently halved to +1.5%, sending ripples of concern through the educational landscape.
The researchers say that the slowdown in enrollment growth seems less related to a decline in childbirth rates or preference shifts toward non-Jewish schooling, and more connected to the economic realities of life in New York. Families, burdened by escalating living costs and tuition fees, are increasingly turning their sights to states where expenses are more manageable. Florida, with its enticing blend of affordable living and educational choices, has emerged as a beacon for these families seeking a change of scenery.
The study's findings have spurred a call to action within the Jewish community. Teach Coalition, an advocate for equitable government funding for nonpublic schools, is urging the initiation of a concerted campaign to alleviate tuition costs for New York Jewish families.
As the diaspora between New York and Florida intensifies, the socio-cultural landscape of both states continues to shift. Yet, there remain intriguing possibilities outside the scope of the data. While the study doesn't account for every potential scenario, the notion of families enrolling their children in schools that escape conventional reporting or making leaps to far-off destinations like Israel introduces layers of complexity to this evolving narrative. In any case, as the young Jewish family’s journeys unfold, they carry with them the aspirations of a vibrant community and the hope that their decisions will enrich the mosaic of Jewish life, be it in the bustling streets of New York or under the Florida sun.
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