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Middle-Class Judaism: A Case Study

- Abstract

DURING the past ten years, “Garfield Hills”-the name I have given a compact neighborhood in New York City’s borough of Queens which was once closed to Jews-has turned more and more markedly into a Jewish section. As late as 1930-about twenty years after the community was founded-only 1,000 Jews out of a total population of 46,000 lived in Garfield Hills. Today the total population is over 95,000, of which nearly 30,000 are Jews (as compared with the same number of Protestants and about 37,000 Catholics). Ethnically, the neighborhood now is also varied: Anglo-Scotch- Irish, Germans, Italians, East and Central European Jews.

The growth of Garfield Hills (and of all Queens) in the past decade is easy to explain. After years of housing starvation, many young families in New York found that the great Queens building boom of 1948-1951 offered them a wide choice of apartments at monthly rentals from $75 to $140. Besides wanting a place to live at rents they could afford, these young people were fleeing from the changes in their old neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. They were looking for a reasonable facsimile of the suburbs a half hour from Times Square. Thus Queens now has about 400,000 Jews; and, according to a recent study of Jewish population trends in New York City by Henry Cohen, one-third of New York’s Jews will be living there by the year 1970.

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