22 May 2008

UK: Jewish population on the rise

Jewish genealogists in the UK may have bigger family trees to compile, as that country's Jewish population is on the rise.

According to a BBC story, University of Manchester researchers say the increase is due to the size of ultra-Orthodox families. The UK's Jewish population peaked at 500,000 at the start of World War I, hit a low of 275,000 in 2005, but has increased to 280,000 in 2008, making it the fifth largest Jewish population in the world.

Figures were based on UK census data and monitoring of Jewish births by academics.

According to Dr Yaakov Wise - of Manchester University's Centre for Jewish Studies - half of all Jewish children younger than 5 in Greater Manchester are ultra-Orthodox. Secular Jewish women have an average of only 1.65 children; the UK average is 1.8. In the ultra-Orthodox community, families have an average of nearly seven children and community elders can have hundreds of descendants. Wise says nearly three of every four Jewish babies are born in the Orthodox community.

In London, this segment of the community is 18%, up from less than 10% in the early 1990s.

According to Wise, the ancestors of these families came to Britain since WWII, as the result of such historic events as the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Read more here.

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