Report shows current Jewish population worldwide

STORRS —An update on the size of the world Jewish population (World Jewish Population, 2010) by demographer Sergio DellaPergola, the Shlomo Argov Professor of Israel-Diaspora Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been published as the second Report of a new North American Jewish Data Bank publication series entitled Current Jewish Population Reports. The new Report shows a growing concentration in the two major Jewish population centers: Israel and the United States, which together account for 10,978,000 Jews, or 82 percent, of the new world estimate of 13,428,000.

The report, which was published by the Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American Jewish Data Bank at the University of Connecticut, presents research mostly conducted at the national level for 93 countries. During the past five or six years, Israel’s Jewish population (5,704,000 in 2010) has surpassed that of the United States (estimated in this new Report at 5,275,000). Although there is significant debate about Jewish population size in the United States, what is certain is that Jewish population growth in Israel is rapid for a developed country like Israel with good health, education, and income standards. American Jewry, on the other hand, has been slowly declining or at best has remained about constant since 1990. Israel’s Jewish population grew by 95,000 in 2009, mostly due to its high birth rate. The surplus of Jewish immigrants over emigrants in 2009 was only 11,000.

The 2,449,000 Jews in the rest of the world mostly live in France (484,000), Canada (375,000), the United Kingdom (292,000), the Russian Federation (205,000), Argentina (182,000), Germany (119,000), and Australia (108,000). A further 435,000 Jews live in nine other countries (Brazil, Ukraine, South Africa, Hungary, Mexico, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Chile), each with a Jewish population of 20,000 to 100,000. Another 119,000 Jews live in communities of between 10,000 and 20,000, and 132,000 live in communities with fewer than 10,000 Jews.

Over 52 percent of world Jewry live in five large metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv, New York, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and Haifa. Over 72 percent live in fifteen urban areas, also including South Florida (Miami), Be’er Sheva, San Francisco, Paris, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, London, and Toronto.

The new report analyzes global, regional and national trends in international migration, urbanization, marriage, fertility, conversion, and age composition. Two key features of Jewish population change are the continuing increase in intermarriage and the related Jewish population aging outside Israel.

All the figures above refer to what the author of the Report defines as the “core Jewish population.” Based on a thorough survey of all available population censuses, surveys and other sources, this definition of “who is a Jew” reflects the subjective identity feelings of people, but also includes many of the most marginal and unaffiliated – provided they do not profess another religion.

In Israel, rapid Jewish population growth is matched by faster growth among Israel’s Arab citizens and among Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. “Core” Jews constitute 49.8 percent of the total permanent or temporary residents between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Others include:

1)    313,000 non-Jewish members of Jewish households, mostly immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (who, together with Jews, form an “enlarged Jewish population” of 6,017,000);

2)    222,000 foreign, partly undocumented workers;

3)    1,536,000 Arabs in the state of Israel, of whom 276,000 live in East Jerusalem;

4)    2,200,000 Palestinians who live in the West Bank; and,

5)    1,470,000 Palestinians who live in Gaza.

Excluding foreign workers and the population of Gaza, Israel’s “enlarged” Jewish population constitutes 61.7 percent of the total in Israel plus the West Bank. If one also excludes the West Bank, the share of the “enlarged” Jewish population rises to 79.7 percent of the total population of the state of Israel.

While Israel’s share of world Jewry has been increasing, the share of Diaspora Jews is steadily decreasing.

The Report was published by the Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American Jewish Data Bank at the University of Connecticut, in coordination with the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is available at The editors for the new publication series are Arnold Dashefsky (University of Connecticut), Sergio DellaPergola (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Ira Sheskin (University of Miami).



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