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Jewish population declines in Dade

The Jewish population in Dade County has dwindled to its lowest percentage since World War II _ largely because of flight from the county and deaths, a study shows. Since 1982, the overall Jewish population in Dade has plummeted by almost 50,000; that leaves about 202,000 Jewish residents, or 10.5 percent of the county's overall population, said Ira Sheskin, a University of Miami researcher who has tracked the migration.

Much of the decline has occurred in South Beach, once a mecca for older Jewish people.

"South Beach has changed enormously from Eastern European Yiddish culture being replaced by a Hispanic culture and younger people," Sheskin said. "An area that in 1982 contained about 40,000 Jews now contains only 15,000 Jews."

A growing number of Jews are moving to Broward and Palm Beach counties. The reasons for the flight include upward mobility, Dade's increasing diversity and perceptions that crime has made Dade unsafe.

Sheskin's research will help Jewish groups prepare for the future, said Myron Brodie, executive vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

"We need to take a much harder look at the way we use our resources," he said.