Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jewish in Mexico

Between 40,000-50,000 Jews live in Mexico, representing about .04 percent of the population, but they are responsible for providing 15 percent of the jobs in the country. Three-quarters of Mexican Jews are employers.

Affiliation rates are also unbelievably high. Upwards of 90 percent of Jewish kids attend one of Mexico City's 16 Jewish schools, and no one is turned away because he or she can't pay. More than one third of families receive community assistance.

According to Gorodzinksy and Lulka, the cost of being Jewish in Mexico requires a net income of $4,000 a month -- substantially more than most Mexicans take home and, it's worth noting, more than I do too. Were I living in Mexico I might be considered middle class by national standards, but poor by Jewish ones. Regardless, my kids would automatically get tuition and other help -- not a bad deal.

Unsurprisingly, this commitment represents a massive cost burden that is getting ever harder to bear. Most American Jews started paying attention to the economic downturn only in the past year or two. In Mexico, the economic crisis is 20 years in the making.
Mexican Jews boast an in-marriage rate that would make American Jewish leaders weep with envy. Even the sons of famous publicists marry within the tribe.

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