Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, gives his initial reflections on the UK Census data about Jews in Britain.
We are at the earliest stages of investigating the Census data, but already certain key findings can be discerned. The overall size of the Jewish population of England and Wales has remained largely static over the past ten years. Given the steady Jewish population decline that has occurred since the mid-1950s, this is an extraordinary finding in and of itself. Why has this happened? The primary reason appears to be that the growth levels in the strictly Orthodox sector are off-setting the decline in the more mainstream Jewish population. We see this clearly in the increases of the Jewish population in Hackney, Haringey, Salford and Gateshead, which collectively have grown by 45% since 2001. The smaller increases observed in Barnet and Bury can also be partially explained by Orthodox population growth in those areas. In contrast, previously strong provincial communities and suburban centres of Jewish life in London are showing clear signs of decline. Leeds, Liverpool, Southend and Brighton all stand out in this regard ˆ each has decreased by about 20% over ten years. Redbridge and Brent in London report even higher rates of decline. In each of these places, the drop can be explained by higher Jewish death rates than birth rates. The good news in the mainstream sector can be seen in Hertsmere, St Albans, Watford and Welwyn Hatfield ˆ collectively, the Jewish population in these four areas has grown by 38% over ten years.
Further census data releases in 2013 will allow the JPR research team to analyse the UK Jewish population in much more precise detail. Together with JPR’s 2013 National Jewish Community Survey, we will soon have the most detailed datasets ever assembled on Jews in the UK.