Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Working-class Jews? The Jews-are-out-to-get-us crowd laughs at the idea of a working-class Jew. And I must admit that I said "Interesting" when I was watching on program about separated identical twins and was told of two Jewish boys adopted away at birth who both turned out to be firemen. And I didn't say interesting because of the tremendous coincidence of their occupations.

On the one hand, if we look at the percentage of people who made a household income of more than $110,000 in 1998, it looks like this:

Protestant 7.2
Catholic 7.9
Jewish 28.9
Hindus 17.2

So, compared to Protestant, 4 times as many Jews are rich (this is the highest category in the survey). Not too shabby, but keep in mind that less than 1/3 of Jews have a lot of money. (And Hindus dispel the myth that brown people can't make it in America).

Now what about the other end? Let's choose less than $30,000 per household as a cutoff. It looks like this:

Protestant 41.4
Catholic 30.2
Jews 18.4
Hindus 25.8

The differences are large here, but the fact remains that nearly 1 in 5 Jewish households are not earning much (and keep in mind that this group lives disproportionately in high cost-of-living areas. Also--the survey does not include college students living in dorms who have little income).

(Source: General Social Survey)


  1. Believe or not my kids go to pre-school at an orthodox Jewish Temple. It was the only one with slots open in our area.

    We have attended a lot of the functions and met some what I would call lower middle class Jews bordering on poor.

    We are starting to become aware of all the politics associated with the orthodox, conservative and reform congregations, as some of the people we meet are thinking of switching or have switched.

    We have heard quotes during certain holidays such as "Jews are like olive oil, we stay separate and rise to the top." Nice.

    Don't get me wrong, we like the people and have play dates with the other children, but Judaism has its problems and baggage just like any other religion.

  2. Thanks for your inights. My goal with this blog is to learn more about those things we are not supposed to talk about.


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