WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An expansive new study led by the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County details what today's Jewish community looks like in the Palm Beaches.
The study was conducted by Brandeis University, a leading research entity.
The last study of the Federation's service area, which spans from Boynton Beach to Martin County, was completed in 2005.
The recent study, conducted in 2018, indicates there are 167,000 people living in 78,000 Jewish households, a 21 percent increase from 2005. In this study, households include at least one Jewish adult.
According to the study, The Palm Beaches’ Jewish community is larger than Jewish communities in major metropolitan areas including Miami, northern New Jersey, and Detroit. The fastest growing segment is young families.
Andrew Comiter, J.D., a partner for Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun Attorneys at Law relocated back to Palm Beach Gardens with his wife and attributes the growing Jewish population to how local governments respond.
"Welcoming and open to the Jewish community," said Comiter. "They’ll do community-wide events for Jewish holidays. I don’t think a lot of other places in the country do that. And the fact that we feel accepted and we feel at home where every day I’m reading in the paper of another anti-Semitic incident or derogatory stuff towards Jewish people, I feel very safe here."
Comiter is one of the 27 percent of people living in the growing northern region in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, and as a young father, part of the fastest growing group.
"You can work here and play here as a member of the Jewish community," said Pamela, a local activist and Andrew’s wife.
Andrew’s father, Richard, founding partner for Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun Attorneys at Law sayssaid in addition to the climate, cost of living and growing developments, the Jewish network of connections were key to his success as a multi-generation tax attorney firm who arrived in Palm Beach County in 1989.
"I think that the Jewish community played a significant role in my success in this community," the elder Comiter said.
Michael Hoffman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County agrees. He believes the areas Jewish population will exceed 200,000 in the next five years because of key industries.
"If they’re in financial services, legal, real estate, medical services, there are well established institutions here that can enable them to have a very successful career," Hoffman said.
The study also finds:
- 46 percent lives in the Boynton Beach and Lake Worth corridor.
- 13 percent resides in central Palm Beach County, including Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.
- 7 percent lives in the Wellington/Royal Palm Beach area.
- 7 percent lives in Martin County.
The study estimates there are 22,000 children living in Jewish households, an 88 percent increase from the previous study.
More than half of children in Jewish households are being raised by interfaith parents.
The median age of the Jewish population of the Palm Beaches has decreased from 70 in 2005 to 60 in 2018.
The study also finds that nearly 16,000 Jewish households (20 perfect of the total) describe themselves as just getting along, nearly poor, or poor.
88 percent of local Jewish adults say they feel connected to Israel and 60 percent of them have visited the Jewish state, compared to the national rate of 43 percent.
"We have been seeing incredible growth in the number of people who live in Jewish households and who are seeking to connect with Jewish life in new ways," said Jim Baldinger, the Chair of the Jewish Community Study. "The results of this study provide us with significant data and clarity about where our community is today and where we are headed; now the real work begins."
"This study lays the groundwork for how our community will make decisions, determine strategic priorities and allocate resources over the next decade," said Hoffman.