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Old 06-18-2012, 06:32 PM
 
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My husband and I really like East Highland Park (like east of St. John Road), right near the lake. It's very pretty, and close to his work. We definitely want to be right by the lake. My question is what do you estimate the Jewish population % to be in that part of town? I know that Highland Park has a significant Jewish population, but I don't have a sense for what % that is. We aren't Jewish, my husband is Christian and I'm not religious. I don't want to offend anyone, as we enjoy the company of people from all religious backgrounds: it's just that I don't like the idea of feeling like outsiders in our community, especially as we'll be raising our kids there.

Thanks for your help.

Last edited by kschpak; 06-18-2012 at 07:18 PM..
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:46 PM
 
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I doubt that there are more than about 25 to 30% folks that would even identify as of fully Jewish descent. The actual percentage of folks that are very observant (in terms of dietary laws, work schedules and religious attendance is is probably even lower. That said there might be significantly more people that are part of extended Jewish customs, like bar mitzvah celebrations.

More than faith I would be concerned that age / tradition tends to be more of factor for isolation -- lots of folks that are older tend to live on their own a lot longer than in other towns. Even if a family with schools age kids may not be particularly observant, if there in-laws close by they may be deferential to their traditions. Jewish grandparents on the current generation are generally more well off and healthier than in previous generations. That can make for some demands on the time of extended family...

Depending on how old your kids are, what price point you are shopping and your general employment circumstances it can be a challenge to feel like you fit in in any town and if you are unaccustomed to schedules in town being driven more than a little bit by things like Jewish religious holidays there are extra opportunities to commit a faux pass like inviting observant neighbors for a crab boil on the eve of Shavu'ot, ...

I would not let such things dissuade from making on offer on "dream house" that otherwise fits your needs. The fact that you are asking probably means you are not the type of person to complain about neighbors that probably love where they live and all the local institutions that they are connected to. The fact is EVERY town has its fair share of little "gotchas" but the VAST majority of residents in ANY desirable town go out of their way to welcome newcomers, especially those that are respectful of their neighbors and are seeking the best situation to raise their kids...
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:31 PM
 
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Exactly the type of information I'm hoping to get. I would have guessed it was closer to 50% based on comments from other people, however I don't think the people that I've talked to have any real first hand experience with Highland Park.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:55 PM
 
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At least 50%, it seems to be the most pervasive cultural sect in the town. It's even known in Israel as a desirable relocation spot in America.

The lights on the city hall were always blue and gold, and never red and green.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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Git45, thanks for your reply. Can I ask how you are acquainted with Highland Park and how you came to the figure of at least 50%?
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:20 PM
 
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According to Sperlings, the religious breakdown in Highland Park is as follows:

Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

This may be under counting, but I can't find anything that says that Highland Park is actually even 25% Jewish. The presence is there because so many organizations are evident and because there is a large vocal group. There are many secular people in Highland Park as well (many of them may be of Jewish ancestry, but not practicing).

Even Skokie, IL which was 40% Jewish back in the 60s is less Jewish and more diverse today.

The problem with the statistics is that the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress and many Christian organizations opposed the inclusion of any religious affiliation question on the census successfully, so there are no decent statistics that we can use.

Last edited by Yac; 06-19-2012 at 06:36 AM..
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:26 PM
 
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That's exactly the issue, the data I have seen is clearly not accurate, it said less than 5%. I know that is not even close, which is why I thought I would ask opinions on here, hoping to find people who have lived in Highland park or otherwise have a good sense of it.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:37 PM
 
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I lived in Skokie, but not Highland Park. On my street in Skokie - we had an African American couple, us (my dh is of Russian Jewish extraction, I am of Roman Catholic Italian extraction - but we are nonreligious), a Chinese American couple, a Pakistani couple, a Mexican American couple, and an Orthodox Jewish couple. We all got along just fine. There were more than this on the street, but I never really kept a count of which religion they were or which ethnic background they came from. No one was excluded and we even had block parties.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:14 PM
 
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I too once lived in Skokie, but I have to point out that comparing Skokie to Highland Park is like comparing apples & oranges. Glencoe and possibly Northbrook and Deerfield are better comparisons for Highland Park.

Skokie was always very diverse even when I lived there in the late 80's & early 90's. Now it is arguably more diverse than many neighborhoods in the city of Chicago with the exception of maybe Rogers Park & Edgewater.

To answer the OP's question, I think the Jewish presence is extremely high in east HP. It is right up there with other famous heavily Jewish towns in America like Scarsdale, NY and Boca Raton, FL. Glencoe's residential areas also have a very similar feel and similar demographics, although the tax structure is certainly different since Glencoe is in Cook County, while Highland Park is in Lake County.

That being said, the nature of the area will feel more secular in nature (more reform and liberal type Jews) vs. the more Orthodox Jewish population that you'd find in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood.

There's a stark change in the demographics (not necessarily the affluence though) once you drive north of east HP on into Lake Forest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nana053 View Post
I lived in Skokie, but not Highland Park. On my street in Skokie - we had an African American couple, us (my dh is of Russian Jewish extraction, I am of Roman Catholic Italian extraction - but we are nonreligious), a Chinese American couple, a Pakistani couple, a Mexican American couple, and an Orthodox Jewish couple. We all got along just fine. There were more than this on the street, but I never really kept a count of which religion they were or which ethnic background they came from. No one was excluded and we even had block parties.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:34 AM
 
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The way I estimate it is around 25-30% is through my affiliation with friends and business associates that live in Highland Park and the homes that I have shown to those relocating from other areas. On average street of 20 or so homes the folks I know say maybe 4 or 5 families would identify as having both parents come from Jewish backgrounds. That strikes me as a solid way to understand how likely it is that they will carry forward the traditions of their background, at least in some way, with their own kids. Families that do not have such a tradition on both sides tend to have a whole lot more to think about that they don't offend their in-laws / cousins / extended family...

I don't doubt that there is strong association with the "identity" of Israel in Highland Park, anymore than there are a lot of Notre Dame t-shirts and hats sold in Chicago areas with lots of folks of Irish heritage. Some of the more well off folks of both backgrounds probably donate a little money to the causes in exchange for memorabilia and a much smaller group is probably involved in larger fund raising efforts. That doesn't mean that everybody that thinks a IDF t-shirt looks cool is going to fully support every political aspect of Israel any more than fans of ND football or basketball support every tenent of Catholicism...

Really, when I go to my friends in Highland Park for a cook out or kids party there is occasional cocktail chatter about religious backgrounds, but it is far from any sort of "exclusionary" thing and more just a casual distraction. There are some folks that are very observant, but that is a tiny fraction, and even then they likely did not choose Highland Park as some sort "base of operations" as much as just a delightful (and costly...) North Shore town that offered them the best quality of life for their family -- it is probably close to the their parents, friends, work, and other things that are important to them...
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