Orthodox Jews Are Fleeing Brooklyn for Florida

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Orthodox Jews are fleeing Brooklyn for places like Florida because of the promise of good jobs, cheaper housing, a unique school choice system, “low taxes, and good governance,” according to a North Miami Beach, Florida, doctor. “For decades Orthodox Jewish families have migrated to Florida from the Northeast in a steady trickle,” Dr. Allen Jacob, a nephrologist, wrote in on the opinion pages for The Wall Street Journal. “They joined local families, retirees, snowbirds and tourists.” But now there is “an unprecedented wave of Orthodox Jewish families moving to South Florida: education choice, low taxes, and good governance,” according to Jacobs. The school choice difference is an important one in the decision-making process, he noted. “Most Orthodox families send their children to private Jewish schools because public school is simply not an option — religious instruction is as important to them as academics,” he wrote. “But the tuition burden can be immense. “That’s why many young families up north are enticed by Florida’s robust menu of state-supported private-school scholarships, worth on average about $7,500 a year, as well as expanded benefits for children with a wide range of disabilities. These programs make private-school tuition far more affordable in Florida than in New York and New Jersey. Legislation recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis has made even more families eligible for these options, further fueling the migration.” This is not just a pandemic-related phenomenon either; it started before it. Florida’s Jewish day schools enrollment grew from 10,623 to 12,482 and the number of schools rose from 50 to 64 from 2018 to 2020, according to the Florida Education Department. Then “the pandemic supercharged demand for Jewish day schools in South Florida,” according to Jacobs. North Miami Beach’s Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes has a current enrollment of 1,000, but is projecting nearly 300 new students next year. In fact, there have been so many out of state admission inquiries its website added a “Considering a Move to Florida” information section. Applications are twice as high this coming year, too, for Brauser Maimonides Academy just north in Broward County, according to the report. “Beyond school choice, Jewish families who are moving like the idea of living in a state with no income tax and a government with a lighter touch,” according to Jacobs, who noted an American Legislative Exchange Council ranking Florida is second in economic competitiveness of state governments, while New Jersey was 48th and New York 50th. “Then there’s the pandemic. The lockdowns forced millions of Americans to work from home for the first time, and many discovered they didn’t need to commute to an office to be productive. Now they can move to a more desirable location without having to switch jobs or careers.” The migration is making for a very competitive real estate market, so while that house is more affordable than New York and New Jersey, it is rising.

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