In the Neighborhood Jackson Heights
The observance of the holy month of Ramadan is just one example of the many spiritual traditions practiced across the five boroughs. (NY1 Photo)

For many New Yorkers, faith plays a central role in life, with religious rituals and practices adding to the rich character of the city that we all get to experience.

For example, the holy month of Ramadan began this month, ushering in a period of fasting and reflection for Muslims, who account for 2% of New York City residents, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Non-Muslims will likely take notice of signs that the holy month has arrived, as signs in Muslim homes and establishments reading “Ramadan Mubarak” (an Arabic phrase that translates to “blessed Ramadan”) and iftar gatherings add a festive mood to the city.

As the city’s diversity expands, so too do all the ways that people worship and practice faith. PRRI figures from 2020 show that over 73% of New York City residents practice some kind of faith, with Christians accounting for the largest group.

The city is also home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, representing major denominations like ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist.

In addition, Indian and other South Asian immigrant communities in parts of Queens have also added to the rich fabric of diversity of faith.

For some, faith and spirituality don't include a belief in a deity or a higher supernatural power. For instance, Humanism, which is noted for centering the human experience, with adherents relying on ethics and reason-based thinking, is nontheistic. Ethical Culture, a Humanist religion, leaves belief in a deity up to the individual. About 21% of New York City residents regard themselves as unaffiliated with any mainstream religion, according to PRRI figures.

Regardless of religious choice or belief system, many New Yorkers rely on faith as a way to create community, with houses of worship, gathering spaces and sacred spaces utilized as a way to connect to the divine and to each other. When it comes to creating community, it’s all a matter of faith.