But in any case, Huberman said, the Orthodox community has clearly grown since the federation's last survey in 1979. That survey put the Orthodox population at 5% of the Jewish community, which then numbered about 500,000.
"They are more self-proud and assertive than they were 10 years ago, and their institutions have become quite strong," he said.
Orthodox men, many of them bearded and all of them wearing hats or the traditional skullcap, and their wives, in modest dresses and wigs or kerchiefs and trailing large numbers of children, are a frequent sight in the older Jewish neighborhoods of the Fairfax District and North Hollywood and in newer areas in the San Fernando Valley and the South Bay.
While some of the men wear black robes known as \o7 kapotes \f7 and circular fur hats called \o7 shtreimlakh\f7 , a costume brought over from Eastern Europe, most Orthodox Jews do not wear distinctive clothes.
But they stand out on a Saturday, when large families fill the sidewalks for their weekly walk to the synagogue.
They go on foot because driving would violate the biblical ban on Sabbath work, an ancient law that has had an effect on the cost of housing within walking distance of certain Orthodox synagogues.
"On those streets, when a nice house comes on the market, there's a lot of bidding within the Jewish community, and it does tend to drive the price higher than it would normally sell for," said Carl Maggio, manager of the Coldwell Banker branch in Hancock Park.
In some cases, as many as three Orthodox families have bid against each other for the same house, Maggio said.
While Jews have maintained their ancient life style in places as far-flung and hostile as Yemen and the Soviet Union, the growth of Orthodox Los Angeles has made it easier to bear the dictates of biblical law and rabbinical tradition that adherents call the "yoke of the Torah."
"You can live almost anywhere. It's just a question of attitude and conveniences, and the conveniences are here now," said Joseph Rhein, a real estate broker who came to Los Angeles from New York in 1979.
"Originally, I was transferred out here, but I've elected to stay," he said. "It's less of a hardship than it was nine years ago."
Like many Orthodox Jews, Rhein said that the opportunity to give his children a good religious and general education in Jewish day schools was the No. 1 reason for his decision to stay in Los Angeles.
According to Emil Jacobi, executive director of the federation's Bureau of Jewish Education, there are now more than 3,000 pupils in the city's 11 Orthodox day schools and high schools, about three times more than in the 1950s.
"They have grown annually by 7% in the last three or four years," Jacobi said. "And they would grow more if we had more space."
Los Angeles lacks a college-level seminary, but a post-graduate \o7 kollel \f7 academy has been in operation in the Fairfax District for 12 years.
Rabbi Chaim Fasman said the major emphasis of the \o7 kollel \f7 is on intensive study of the Talmud, a compendium of Jewish law and practice.
The 11 full-time fellows study "until you are really at the point where you feel ready to step forward as a rabbi, educator or leader," he said.
They devote mornings to reading the Talmud aloud and debating the fine points in a singsong melody. They also conduct dozens of evening classes at synagogues and private homes and hold brown-bag study sessions at law firms, accounting offices and hospitals.
There were no more than a handful of kosher restaurants and butcher shops in the Los Angeles of the 1950s and '60s. Now there are about 35, including a candy factory, several take-out counters and falafel stands, and a variety of sit-down restaurants, including one upscale establishment with pink tablecloths that features kosher northern Italian cuisine.
Chaim Lazar Weiss, owner of the Kosher Nostra pizza restaurant and a Peking Tam restaurant (\o7 tam \f7 means taste in Hebrew) on Fairfax Avenue, said he will soon clone both cafes in the San Fernando Valley. He also plans to open a kosher Chinese deli and a Mexican restaurant.
"There's nothing that an Orthodox Jew needs that isn't here and readily available. It's just that it often costs more than it would in New York," said Paul Glasser, executive director of Beth Jacob Synagogue in Beverly Hills, which has grown from 550 to 850 families in the last six years.
But schools, kosher food and synagogues are not the only requirements for a flourishing Orthodox community.
Perhaps the least understood demands of Orthodox Judaism are the laws of family purity, under which husband and wife do not touch each other for at least two weeks out of every month.
Only after the wife immerses herself in a ritual bath, known in Hebrew as the \o7 mikvah, \f7 can conjugal relations resume.
Believers swear by the procedure, saying that two weeks of longing make the night of the monthly reunion as joyous as a wedding night.