The Jewish Community of Toronto, 2011

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

Principal Investigator(s): Sandi Pelly, Charles Shahar, Robin Gofine, Randal Schnoor

Study Dates: 2011

Population Estimates:

Toronto -  including areas outside of the City of Toronto but within the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area -   has 188,715 Jewish persons. Jews comprised 3.4% of the total
Toronto population.  These Jewish persons live in 83,120 households, 4.2% of the total number of households in  Greater Toronto.

• Toronto has just about half (48.2%) of the total Jewish population of Canada (391,665)

The City of Toronto itself includes 111,070 Jewish residents, 58.9% of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area.

Key Findings:

There are ten numbered reports (in six volumes) on Jewish Toronto, plus an unnumbered Brief on Jewish fertility rates.  All data are based on the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey.

The June 2014 report on the Jewish Population of Toronto 2011 was issued in June 2014 by Shahar, Gofine and Pelley.

• Part 1 of the report focuses on Basic Population Demographics and was combined with Part 2 on Jewish Population in Geographic Areas

• In September 2014, Part 3, Jewish Seniors and Part 4, The Jewish Poor were released as a combined report by the same authors. 

•  In January 2015, Charles Shahar and Randal Schnoor released Part 5: The Jewish Family and Part 6; Intermarriage.

• In April, 2015, Charles Shahar and Sandi Pelly issued Part 7, The Jewish Population of York Region

In September 2015, Shahar issued Part 8 Immigration & Language and Part 9, Core FSU Jews in a combined volume.

• In December, 2015, Shahar issued Part 10: Holocaust Survivors

Population and Demographics

• The Jewish population of Toronto was 188,715 in 2011. Jews comprised 3.4% of the total
Toronto population.

• Between 2001 and 2011 the Jewish community grew by 8,005 people, or 4.4%. The rate of growth of the community has slowed in the last decade.

• Toronto has the largest Jewish community in Canada, and about a half (48.2%) of the
country’s Jewish population.

•  In the Jewish community, the Baby Boomer cohort of 45-64 years has increased significantly in the last decade. In 2011 there were 53,700 in this age group, compared to 47,125 in 2001.

• The number of Toronto’s Jewish seniors has increased as well. There were 30,960 seniors in 2011, compared to 27,615 in 2001.

• The median age of the Toronto Jewish community (40.6 years) is higher than that of the total Toronto population (38.3 years), but very similar to that of the Canadian Jewish population (40.5 years).

Geography Report # 2: Jewish Populations in Geographic Areas and Report #7: The Jewish Population of York Region provide an enormous amount of geographic analysis detail on Toronto overall and the rapidly increasing Jewish region of Vaughan and other sub-communities within the York region of Toronto.

•  A very significant proportion (83.3%) of the Jewish population in Ontario is located in the
Toronto Census Metropolitan Area.

• The City of Toronto, with a Jewish population of 111,070, comprises 58.9% of the 188,715 Jews residing in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA).

The City of Vaughan has 47,135 Jewish residents, comprising 25% of the total Jewish population within the Toronto CMA.

• The Downtown and Central Toronto Jewish Communities comprise 24,705 and 83,395 Jews respectively. The Northern Jewish Community (corresponding to York Region) has a Jewish population of 70,265.

• There are more Israelis residing in York Region (9,030) than in the City of Toronto (8,180) -  thus, 50.8% of the 17,00 plus Israelis residing in the Toronto CMA live in York Region.

• Thornhill (Vaughan) has the highest density of Jews in the Toronto CMA. Jews comprise 39.6% of the total populace there. Finch / Steeles (West) also has a high density of Jews, comprising 37.3% of the overall population in that area.

• Nine of the eighteen primary areas of Greater Toronto examined in this report have shown Jewish population increases between 2001 and 2011. The largest gains in terms of absolute numbers have been in the municipalities of Vaughan (+12,700) and in the miscellaneous area of “Rest of Toronto CMA” (+2,740).

• The most significant Jewish population losses between 2001 and 2011 have occurred in Markham (-3,465) and Finch / Steeles (East) (-3,105).

• Among primary areas, the municipality of Vaughan has the largest number of Jewish children (10,510), Jewish teens and young adults (7,440), Jews 25-44 years (10,635), and Jews 45-64 years (13,635), in the Toronto CMA.

• Jewish residents in Finch / Steeles (East) have a median age of 60.9 years, the highest of any Jewish population in the Toronto CMA, and in fact, in the country. The lowest median age is found for the Jewish community in the Downtown Core, at 33.2 years.

Jewish Seniors

• There are 30,965 Jewish elderly 65+ years residing in the Toronto CMA.

• Jewish Seniors comprise 16.4% of the 188,715 members of the Jewish community of Greater Toronto.

• But, they account for 39.4% of all Jews who live alone.

• There are currently 4,835 individuals 85+ years in the Toronto Jewish community. This is the largest number of “older elderly” in the history of the community.

• The percentage of Jewish seniors here is slightly lower than that for the Canadian Jewish
population (16.9%).  Jewish communities such as Hamilton (20.5%), Montreal (20.4%) and Windsor (19.7%) have larger proportions of seniors.

• Of the 30,965 Jewish elderly residing in the Toronto CMA, 4,920 live in Vaughan. Other
large concentrations of seniors are found in Finch / Steeles (East) (2,740), Eglinton /
Lawrence (2,735), and Finch / Steeles (West) (2,690).

• More than a third (37.7%) of elderly Jewish women live alone, comprising 6,270 individuals. Only 17.5% of elderly men live alone.

• While seniors represent 16.4% of all Greater Toronto's Jews, they account for 39.4% of all Jews who live alone.

• A total of 5,035 seniors live below the poverty line, or 16.3% of the elderly Jewish
population. More than a third (37.4%) of elderly women who live alone are poor, comprising
2,345 individuals. The number of poor elderly women in single person households is almost three times that of men.

The Jewish Poor

• There are 24,315 Jews living below the poverty line in the Toronto CMA.

• The poor comprise 12.9% of a total population of 188,715 Jews residing in the local community.

• The level of poverty in the Toronto Jewish population is lower then the 17.7%  overall poverty rate for the general Greater Toronto population, as well as the 20% rate for Montreal Jews and 16.1% for Vancouver Jews.

• Given the size of the community, however, there are greater numbers of economically disadvantaged Jews residing in the Toronto metropolitan area than in any other Jewish community in Canada. The Toronto CMA has 42.5% of the total Jewish poor in this country.

• About one in six (16.3%) of Toronto’s Jewish seniors (5,035 individuals) is poor. Senior
women are significantly more likely to be disadvantaged than men (19.4% and 12.6%

• The Jewish poor are not localized to any region or district in Greater Toronto, although the largest number of disadvantaged Jews reside in the municipality of Vaughan
(5,670). The Sheppard to Steeles area along the Bathurst Corridor includes 4,380 Jewish poor.

The Jewish Family

• Within the Jewish community, the current level of those living in family arrangements
(84.8%) is about the same as in 1991 (84.2%).

• In 1991, there were 10,755 Toronto Jews living in single parent families. When compared to the 2011 figure of 15,830, this represents an increase of 47.2% in the last two decades.

• Slightly more than one in ten Jewish children (< 15 years) in Greater Toronto live in lone
parent families (10.5%).

• In the last decade, the fastest growing groups as far as marital status is concerned were those choosing to live in common law arrangements (+26.5%) and those who are divorced / separated (+23.9%).

• Persons living alone comprise 11.8% of the total Jewish population in this metropolitan area.


• 18% of Jewish spouses / partners are married to, or partnered with, non-Jews in the Toronto metropolitan area. This figure is considered to be the intermarriage rate for the Toronto Jewish community. 

• In absolute terms, 16,155 of 89,895 Jewish spouses / partners are intermarried.

• In cases where both spouses are less than 30 years of age, the level of intermarriage is 28.3%. It is 15.1% when both spouses are at least 40 years old

• There has been an increase of 68.6% of Jews living in intermarried households in the last two decades. The number has climbed from 14,700 to 24,785 individuals between 1991-2011. As a proportion of the total Jewish population, the percentage of Jews living in intermarried households increased from 11.6% in 1991 to 17.3% in 2011.

• About one in six Jewish children under 15 years of age (living in couple families) reside in
intermarried arrangements (18.3%). More than one in five children under the age of 5 years live in intermarried families (20.6%).

• Regarding the youngest children of intermarried couples, almost a third (32.4%) are identified by their parents as Jews; about half (50.4%) are assigned no religious affiliation; and the rest (17.2%) are identified as having other religions.

♦ Whether it is the husband or the wife who is of the Jewish faith
has a significant bearing on the religious orientation of their children.

• The geographic area with the largest proportion of Jews living in intermarried households is Danforth / Beaches (68.8%). In absolute terms, the largest number of intermarried Jews live in the miscellaneous area of "Rest of Toronto CMA" (6,080). These individuals are more geographically distant from Jewish centers and therefore represent a special challenge for community outreach and engagement efforts.

• Jews in young adulthood (18-26 years) are slightly less inclined to marry compared to non-Jews of that age group, and are also slightly less inclined to live in common law partnerships.

Immigration & Language

• About a third (34.7%) of the Greater Toronto Jewish population are immigrants; of a total of 129,680 Jewish immigrants residing in Canada, 50.5% live in the Toronto metropolitan area.

• In the local Jewish population, there are 22,440 Jews who were born in the Former Soviet
Union. There are also 11,460 Jews who were born in Israel, 7,185 born in the United States, 7,050 in Eastern Europe, 5,945 in Western Europe, 2,815 in North Africa / Middle East (excluding Israel), and 1,530 in South America.

• Between 2000 and 2011, the largest number of Jewish immigrants came from the Former
Soviet Union (7,965). An even larger number arrived between 1990 and 1999 (9,175). In
fact, this significant influx of FSU-born Jewish immigrants in the last two decades represents the largest arrival from a single country or region to the Toronto metropolitan area since the 1901-1921 immigrations of East European Jews.

• Those born in Israel are the youngest of any immigrant group in the Toronto Jewish
community, with a median age of 35 years. The oldest groups include Jews born in Poland
(82.7 years), Czechoslovakia (72.5 years), and Hungary (71.1 years). The median age of
Jews from the Former Soviet Union is 49.3 years.

• The municipality of Vaughan has the largest number of foreign-born Jews in metropolitan
Toronto (20,665), followed by Finch / Steeles (West) (4,560), Eglinton / Lawrence (4,535),
and Richmond Hill (4,530).

• Jewish immigrants who arrived between 2005-2011 have a 30% level of poverty, compared to 23.3% of those who arrived between 2000-2011. The level of economic disadvantage then drops to 18% for those who arrived between 1990-1999, and 14.4% for those who came between 1980-1989.

• The findings on poverty and income level suggest that there is a window of economic vulnerability for recent immigrants that is especially stark in the first five years after settlement.

• The highest level of poverty is found among Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet
Union (22.2%) followed by individuals born in Israel (18.6%).

Core FSU Jews

• The total number of Core FSU Jews in the Toronto CMA was found to be 35,995. Individuals of Core FSU background comprise 19.1% of the total population of 188,715 Jews residing in the Greater Toronto Area.

• The median age of Core FSU Jews (36.9 years) is lower than that of "Other Jews" living in the Toronto CMA (41.6 years).

• There is a large representation of Core FSU Jews in Vaughan (14,170). There are also large numbers of Core FSU Jews in Richmond Hill (4,030) and Finch / Steeles (West) (3,415); other areas with at least 1,000 Jews of Core FSU extraction include Finch / Steeles (East), Sheppard / Finch (West), Eglinton / Lawrence, Sheppard / Finch
(East) , and Markham.

• There are 2,350 Core FSU Jews living in the miscellaneous geographic category of “Rest of Toronto CMA”. As Shahar noted, "These persons may be less affiliated with the Jewish community, and harder to reach from the point of view of providing social services and supports."

Part 10: Holocaust Survivors was issued in December, 2015, along with a report on Holocaust Survivors nationally and another separate report on Montreal's Jewish Survivor Population.  Of the 17,300 Canadian Jewish Survivors nationally, 8,930 reside in Toronto, 51.6% of the total Survivor population. while 5,795 are estimated to reside in Montreal, 33.5% of the national total.  All three reports on Jewish Holocaust Survivors can be found at this Holocaust Survivor in Canada link (also on left side links).

Fertility Rates

A Brief:on "Fertility Rates of Toronto's Jewish Community" was added to the 2011 NHS analysis in April 2015, paralleling a similarly issued five-to-six page “Brief” for most of the major Jewish communities in Canada.  Table 1 indicates that the Jewish fertility rate estimate is 1.86 for Toronto Jews (below the standard 2.1 replacement rate standard).  Other tables compare fertility rates among Jewish communities in Canada, and to fertility rates among major ethnic groups in Canada.




Study Notes:

DataBank users should review the Appendices to the report in addition to the main text and summary of findings. 

The Appendices include discussions of the utility of the National Household Survey of 2011 (which replaced earlier Census "long-form" data collection efforts), a discussion of the Revised Jewish Definition used in 2011 and a comparison with the Standard Jewish Definition used in earlier Census-based reports on Jewish Canada, a discussion of ethnic origin attribution used in the definition of Jewish persons, and supplemental, additional tables on both demographics and geography.

Language: English