|12 May, 2008 |
| Sixty years after establishment of State, 41% of world Jewry live in Israel |
| (Photo: Flash 90) |
Sixty years after the establishment of the State of Israel, Jewish representation in the country has changed dramatically from what it was in 1948, with Jews in Israel now comprising almost forty-one percent of world Jewry. Approximately 11 million Jews remained worldwide in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, compared to 16.5 million before the war. Today's figure stands at just over 13 million.
According to the data provided by Prof. Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University's Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, replenishing the number of Jewish people lost in the Holocaust has been a slow process, and even though data reflects recuperation and growth in world Jewry and the Jewish population in Israel, the figures are still far from those before the war.
Today, about 5.5 million Jews live in Israel, in addition to 300,000 non-Jewish immigrants who immigrated via the Law of Return primarily from the Former Soviet Union. The number of Jews living in Israel on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a mere 650,000. The number of Jews in Israel has thus multiplied almost eight times in the last sixty years - an almost unprecedented phenomenon in other countries. This partly reflects immigration to Israel and partly the natural birth rate. Nonetheless, the number of Jews in the Diaspora shrank about thirty percent, both due to immigration to Israel, and to assimilation and aging.
Apart from Israel, where the percentage of the world's Jewish population has grown from six percent in 1948 to forty-one percent in 2008, countries in Western Europe and North America are included among the regions where some growth in Jewish population has been registered (between eight and eleven percent), while Oceania is the region with the highest growth rate – at 188 percent. Another interesting fact that emerges from the data is that the number of Jews in Germany has increased four-fold in less than two decades.
Prof. DellaPergola suggests that continuing existing demographic trends might cause a further increase in the proportion of world Jewry living in Israel, while the number of Jews in the Diaspora may decline. However, he also points out that there are those who believe that economic and educational interventions – such as strengthening the Jewish identity of youth – may impact marriage and birth rates and could thus bring about a more positive balance in the demographic trends of world Jewry.
Downloadable File: JewishDemographyat60.doc