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Date: 2018
Abstract: This study, which forms part of JPR’s research programme for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, investigates the numbers of births and deaths that have taken place in Jewish population of the UK in recent years. Births and deaths reflect natural life events and are critical to understanding how the population is changing over time, particularly in terms of its size and structure. By monitoring the balance of births over deaths or vice versa (i.e. natural increase or decrease), it is possible to predict future trends, including the stability, growth or decline of the population.

The report, authored by JPR research Fellow, Donatella Casale Mashiah, demonstrates that the UK Jewish community has turned an important corner in recent years. Following several decades of demographic decline, during which Jewish deaths consistently exceeded Jewish births, births have exceeded deaths in every year since 2006, which implies Jewish demographic growth in the UK, all other factors being equal (e.g. migration, adhesions, renouncements).

The total number of Jewish births per annum in the UK has increased by about 25% over the past decade, peaking in 2011 at 3,869. This has more to do with birth rates in the strictly Orthodox part of the Jewish community than the remainder, although both sectors have seen an increase.

By contrast, the number of Jewish deaths per annum has been falling over time, broadly in line with national trends, due to increasing life expectancy. 2,411 Jewish death were recorded in the UK in 2016, the lowest number on record. The average between 1979 and 2016 was 3,738.

Denominationally, the majority of deaths (68%) in 2018 were ‘central Orthodox’ – i.e. funerals conducted under the auspices of the United Synagogue, the Federation of Synagogues, or independent modern Orthodox synagogues. These were followed, in turn, by Reform at 18%, Liberal at 6%, Sephardi at 4%, Strictly Orthodox at 2% and Masorti at 1%. These proportions are reflective of the relative size of each group in the Jewish population at the oldest age bands.

Beyond the overarching story of the Jewish population that these data reveal, the numbers themselves are also essential for planning purposes. They are of significant value to local authorities, politicians, community leaders, educators and charitable organisations among others, since they can be applied to assess a variety of communal needs, such as childcare facilities, school places, elderly care facilities, religious services and burial grounds.
Author(s): Graham, David
Date: 2018
Abstract: JPR’s report, European Jewish identity: Mosaic or monolith? An empirical assessment of eight European countries, authored by Senior Research Fellow Dr David Graham, asks whether there is such a thing as a European Jewish identity, and, if so, what it looks like.

The question of whether there is a Jewish identity that is at once common to all European Jews but also peculiar to them, has intrigued scholars of contemporary Jewry since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This study contrasts the European picture with the two major centres of world Jewry, the United States and Israel, and examines the nature and content of Jewish identity across Europe, exploring the three core pillars of belief, belonging and behaviour around which Jewish identity is built.

This research was made possible by the advent of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey in 2012 examining Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism across nine EU Member States: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the UK. As well as gathering data about antisemitism, the study investigated various aspects of the Jewishness of respondents, in order to ascertain whether different types of Jews perceive and experience antisemitism differently. This study focuses on the data gathered about Jewishness, thereby enabling direct comparisons to be made for the first time across multiple European Jewish communities in a robust and comprehensive way.

The report concludes that there is no monolithic European identity, but it explores in detail the mosaic of Jewish identity in Europe, highlighting some key differences:
• In Belgium, where Jewish parents are most likely to send their children to Jewish schools, there is a unique polarisation between the observant and non-observant;
• In France, Jews exhibit the strongest feelings of being part of the Jewish People, and also have the strongest level of emotional attachment to Israel;
• Germany’s Jewish community has the largest proportion of foreign-born Jews, and, along with Hungary, is the youngest Jewish population;
• In Hungary the greatest relative weight in Jewish identity priorities is placed on 'Combating antisemitism,' and the weakest level of support for Israel is exhibited;
• In Italy, respondents are least likely to report being Jewish by birth or to have two Jewish parents;
• The Jews of Latvia are the oldest population and the most likely to be intermarried;
• The Jews of Sweden attach a very high level of importance to 'Combating antisemitism' despite being relatively unlikely to experience it, and they observe few Jewish practices;
• In the United Kingdom, Jews observe the most religious practices and appear to feel the least threatened by antisemitism. They are the most likely to be Jewish by birth and least likely to be intermarried.

According to report author, Dr David Graham: “This report represents far more than the culmination of an empirical assessment of Jewish identity. Never before has it been possible to examine Jewish identity across Europe in anything approaching a coherent and systematic way. Prior to the FRA’s survey, it was almost inconceivable that an analysis of this kind could be carried out at all. The formidable obstacles of cost, language, political and logistical complexity seemed to present impenetrable barriers to the realisation of any such dream. Yet this is exactly what has been achieved, a report made possible through an FRA initiative into furthering understanding of Jewish peoples' experience of antisemitism. It reveals a European Jewry that is more mosaic than monolith, an array of Jewish communities, each exhibiting unique Jewish personas, yet united by geography and a common cultural heritage."
Author(s): Staetsky, L. Daniel
Date: 2017
Abstract: This study takes an in-depth look at attitudes towards Jews and Israel among the population of Great Britain, both across society as a whole, and in key subgroups within the population, notably the far-left, the far-right, Christians and Muslims.

It introduces the concept of the ‘elastic view’ of antisemitism, arguing that as antisemitism is an attitude, it exists at different scales and levels of intensity. Thus no single figure can capture the level of antisemitism in society, and all figures need to be carefully explained and understood.

It finds that only a small proportion of British adults can be categorised as ‘hard-core’ antisemites – approximately 2% – yet antisemitic ideas can be found at varying degrees of intensity across 30% of British society. Whilst this categorically does not mean that 30% of the British population is antisemitic, it does demonstrate the outer boundary of the extent to which antisemitic ideas live and breathe in British society. As such, it goes some way towards explaining why British Jews appear to be so concerned about antisemitism, as the likelihood of them encountering an antisemitic idea is much higher than that suggested by simple measures of antisemitic individuals. In this way, the research draws an important distinction between ‘counting antisemites’ and ‘measuring antisemitism’ – the counts for each are very different from one another, and have important implications for how one tackles antisemitism going forward.

The research finds that levels of anti-Israelism are considerably higher than levels of anti-Jewish feeling, and that the two attitudes exist both independently of one another and separately. However, the research also demonstrates that the greater the intensity of anti-Israel attitude, the more likely it is to be accompanied by antisemitic attitudes as well.

Looking at subgroups within the population, the report finds that levels of antisemitism and anti-Israelism among Christians are no different from those found across society as a whole, but among Muslims they are considerably higher on both counts. On the political spectrum, levels of antisemitism are found to be highest among the far-right, and levels of anti-Israelism are heightened across all parts of the left-wing, but particularly on the far-left. In all cases, the higher the level of anti-Israelism, the more likely it is to be accompanied by antisemitism. Yet, importantly, most of the antisemitism found in British society exists outside of these three groups – the far-left, far-right and Muslims; even at its most heightened levels of intensity, only about 15% of it can be accounted for by them.
Date: 2017
Abstract: This study, which was produced by JPR on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, takes an in-depth statistical look at synagogue membership figures in the UK. Synagogue membership data have been gathered and analysed consistently over several decades, and constitute the best measure of Jewish communal affiliation in the UK that exists. They provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation and belonging over time, and are thus of particular interest to community leaders and planners.

The report, authored by JPR researchers Dr Donatella Casale Mashiah and Dr Jonathan Boyd, finds that despite the fact that there are now 454 synagogues in the UK – the largest number ever recorded – synagogue membership numbers have dropped below 80,000 households for the first time since records began. Indeed, there has been a 20% decline over a quarter of a century, and a 4% decline since the last such report was published in 2010.

However, the overall decline masks important developments at a denominational level. Critically, the sector that has declined most sharply is central Orthodoxy – broadly understood as the United Synagogue, the Federation and various independent modern Orthodox synagogues dotted around the country – which collectively have seen a 37% drop since 1990. This decline is partly due to disaffection, but it has also been driven considerably by natural decrease – more members dying than being born.

In contrast, membership of strictly Orthodox synagogues is growing. Indeed, it has grown dramatically over time – by 139% since 1990. A generation ago, the strictly Orthodox comprised 4.5% of all synagogue members households; today they comprise 13.5%. This growth is driven almost exclusively by demographic forces – particularly, high birth rates in this sector of the community.

Taken as a whole, Liberal, Reform and Masorti figures have been fairly stable over time. Liberal and Reform have both declined slightly since 1990, whereas Masorti has grown, albeit from a lower base. But this overall picture of stability is somewhat misleading: in reality, Liberal and Reform synagogues are both losing members at a similar rate to the central Orthodox ones, but unlike those central Orthodox ones, they are also attracting members from their religious ‘right’ to offset those losses.
Author(s): Graham, David
Date: 2016
Abstract: Intermarriage has long been a concern for Jewish community leaders and members. Many have commonly interpreted it as deeply corrosive to Judaism, arguing that it erodes Jewish identity and causes the contraction of the Jewish population. Yet, remarkably, much of the debate about intermarriage in the UK has been based on American Jewish statistics, and an assumption that the situation there either mirrors reality in Britain, or foretells the probable and almost inevitable future of the UK Jewish community.

This report, Jews in couples: Marriage, intermarriage, cohabitation and divorce in Britain, written by JPR Senior Research Fellow, Dr David Graham, is the first dedicated study of the topic that has ever been published about Jews in Britain. By assessing intermarriage in the wider context of partnerships more generally, and by drawing on high quality data from JPR’s own survey and from national census data, it is arguably one of the most robust studies of these topics produced anywhere.

Importantly, it estimates that the intermarriage rate in Britain currently stands at 26%, which is dramatically lower than the equivalent figure of 58% for the United States. Moreover, it shows that the rate has only climbed very slowly in Britain since the early 1980s, when it stood at 23%.

Nevertheless, it is unforgiving in its assessment of the effects of intermarriage on Jewish life. It finds that, whereas more or less all children of in-married Jewish couples are raised as Jews, this is the case for only a third of the children of intermarried couples. It also demonstrates that intermarried Jews exhibit far weaker levels of Jewish practice than in-married Jews on all measures investigated.

Beyond intermarriage, the report also explores the topics of divorce, cohabitation and same-sex couples. It finds that Jews are less likely to be divorced than the British population in general, but that the toll that divorce takes on women is notably greater than on men; that there has been a 17% rise over the course of the past decade in the number of Jews cohabiting, and that one in three Jews in their late 20s currently cohabits with their partner; and that just over 2,200 Jews live in same-sex couples, or 1.8% of all Jews in partnerships.
Author(s): Pinto, Diana
Date: 2009
Abstract: The Res Publica (Latin for “public good”) project, funded by the Ford Foundation, was designed to bring together a diverse groups of thinkers, activists and commentators in Europe to consider some of Europe’s most pressing issues: notably, the loss of a sense of the common good in our pluralist democracies, a consequent erosion of feelings of shared belonging and the emergence of new types of tribalism.

The project involved independent voices from different religious, cultural, ethnic and secular backgrounds - each speaking in his or her personal capacity - in a series of small, closed and off the record national round tables – and each lasting for two and a half days in a rural residential setting. The national round tables were intended to open the way for a more pan-European shared reflection on the res publica.

Each round table explored the conflicts, underlying fears and defensive reflexes that exist in each country and within each minority or majority group; in other words, those factors which have led to a weakened common public space. The project intentionally sought to broach difficult questions in a context of mutual trust - questions linked to national identity, the role of the law, citizenship, the role and rights of (often silent) majorities and (often vocal) minorities, secular responses to collective religious demands, and the link between civil society and the state. The round tables were also intended to address the tensions between national cohesion and a ‘Europe without borders’, especially their impact in two areas: integration and the struggle against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. To facilitate the discussions, round table participants received a carefully planned set of questions and issues that they were free to address, challenge, or revise in the round table discussions.

The project comprised six national round tables in total (in the UK, Poland, Sweden, France, Germany and the Netherlands), followed by a seventh pan-European one. In keeping with the ‘off the record’ policy of the round tables, the reports of the meetings do not identify those who spoke, and specific attributes (such as a ‘Muslim voice’, a ‘Catholic view’ or a ‘Jewish position’, a ‘judge’, or a ‘civil society activist’) were only mentioned when the person specifically chose to speak in that capacity. Prior to the pan-European one, we commissioned a set of five papers from each country which addressed the five key themes which emerged from the round tables: national identity, the status of minorities, the law, religion, and the state and civil society.
Author(s): Graham, David
Date: 2015
Abstract: Israelis constitute the largest foreign-born group of Jews living in the UK, and, as such, they garner considerable interest both in Britain and in Israel. In Britain, the presence of Israeli Jews constitutes a potential boon to the Jewish community, although any increase in their numbers can also place a potential strain on existing resources. In Israel, the decision to move abroad is rarely seen as a completely neutral choice, so understanding more about who migrates and in what numbers, makes an important contribution to contemporary Israeli discourse.

This report, entitled “Britain’s Israeli Diaspora,” uses UK Census data to paint a portrait of the diverse Israeli population in Britain. Whilst it includes a fair number of stereotypical, born-and-bred, accented Israelis who are recent migrants to the UK, it also contains a considerable proportion of people who hold dual Israeli-British citizenship, have been living in Britain for many years and appear to be well-integrated into British society.

There is clear evidence to show that the Israeli population of the UK has grown over time, increasing by an estimated 350% between 1971 and 2011, and whilst it is still small, it now stands at its highest ever recorded level. Moreover, in the decade between 2001 and 2011, a greater number of Israelis moved to Britain than British Jews moved to Israel, at a ratio of three to two.

Many of the Israelis who have moved to the UK recently are in their mid-20s to mid-40s, and are highly educated, and whilst most are secular and relatively few choose to engage in Jewish communal religious life, approximately half of those with children choose to send their children to Jewish schools. At the same time, it is important to note that the Israeli population in the UK includes a sizeable proportion of strictly Orthodox Jews (about 16%), and a not insignificant proportion of non-Jews (9%).

Based on these data, it is difficult to determine the forces that may be driving Israeli migration. Whilst one might be tempted to argue that political or economic considerations are key, the most compelling evidence points to rather more prosaic factors – most notably, partnering with, or marrying, someone from Britain.
Date: 2015
Abstract: An important study using UK Census data to assess how the composition of the British Jewish population is likely to change over the coming decades.

UK Census data continues to be by far and away the most comprehensive and valuable dataset that exists on the UK Jewish population as a whole. Whilst the census does not capture the entire Jewish population, census data allow us to examine the socio-demographic characteristics of the Jewish population in greater detail than any other source. In this report, we utilise these data to explore how the numerical balance between the 'mainstream' and the strictly Orthodox (haredi) Jewish population is shifting over time, and what the age profiles and total fertility rates of both groups indicate about the future.

In particular, we highlight how the haredi population is growing at an extraordinarily fast rate, due to its rare combination of high fertility and low mortality. By contrast, the non-haredi Jewish population is declining, not least due to its below replacement level fertility. We note how these measures, combined with an analysis of population momentum over time, help us to develop a probable picture of a future in which the haredi population will become an increasingly large part of the whole.

Whilst this is a demographic certainty, the report also notes that 30% of all haredi adults are aged 15-24. Proportions at this type of level in other populations worldwide have been associated by political scientists and demographers with a range of social problems, not least due to the existence of large numbers of young people who are unemployed or on low incomes. There is no suggestion here that haredi Jews are likely to succumb to the worst of these problems – on the contrary, the community has very high levels of social cohesion and a large number of mechanisms that help to counteract these – but the possibility of increased apathy, disillusionment or abandonment of a strictly Orthodox lifestyle should not be dismissed. Indeed, examined from a demographic perspective, these types of possibilities represent the clearest and most obvious risks facing the haredi community.

In presenting a probable picture of the future of the British Jewish population as a whole, the findings in this report should be utilised for the specific purposes JPR intended: to help Jewish community leaders, operating either within the haredi or the non-haredi sectors, to develop policy to respond to the various challenges that are highlighted.
Date: 2015
Abstract: In the aftermath of the spike in antisemitic incidents during the war in Gaza in summer 2014, and the Islamist attacks on Jews in Brussels, Paris and Copenhagen, there is growing concern about rising antisemitism in Europe. Yet, as this paper shows, existing data present a complex and multi-faceted picture of reality, proving some existing hypotheses beyond any reasonable doubt, but challenging others.

It is clear, for example, that spikes in antisemitic incidents occur when war breaks out in Gaza – all data sources from multiple countries and both Jewish and non-Jewish sources show this. However, it is far less clear whether or not levels of antisemitism are rising over time in the UK: different sources of data tell competing stories, and the absence of trend data on patterns of reporting among British Jews makes it difficult to draw any firm conclusions. We can see that antisemitic sentiment is particularly strong among certain sub-groups within the population, but we can also see that, taken as a whole, British adults hold largely favourable attitudes towards Jews, at levels that place Britain among the least antisemitic countries in the world.

Nevertheless, the data indicate that significant proportions of Jews in the UK and elsewhere are concerned about antisemitism. But it is evident that more work needs to be done to understand the targets of this concern – where the threats lie, and the nature and scale of the problems that exist.

In general, the report maintains that research data on antisemitism in the UK vary in quality, and despite a recent flurry of research activity, many of the outputs seem to generate far more heat than light. We argue that much more work needs to be done in coordinating research efforts, maximising the value of existing datasets, focusing on the areas of greatest concern, and ensuring that any data collected and analysed are strongly concentrated on the most important policy questions: understanding the threat, and providing genuine policy insights for international, national and Jewish communal leaders, as well as Jews more generally.
Date: 2015
Abstract: An innovative study looking at UK census data through the lens of the household – or Jewish family – shows that only a quarter of all Jewish homes are comprised of the stereotypical married couple with children, and two out of three Jewish households in Britain have no children living in them at all. It further demonstrates that an estimated 17,600 Jews aged 65 or above live alone, the majority of whom are women.

The report, entitled Jewish families and Jewish households: Census insights into how we live, is the latest in a series of reports published by JPR that draw on data from the 2011 Census to understand key aspects of contemporary Jewish life in Britain. It is the most comprehensive report on these data published so far, and reveals a number of important insights, hitherto unknown.

Amongst these, it demonstrates that a third of all Jewish households have people living within them who are either not Jewish, or whose Jewish status is unclear. On the face of it, this represents little change over the decade since 2001, but close examination of the data indicate that there has been an increase in the number of Jews living with people who say they have no religion, alongside a decrease in the number of Jews living with people who have a different religion.

The report also investigates differences in household make-up between Jews and other religious and ethnic minorities, and demonstrates that Jews are far less likely than average to cohabit or to live in single parent families – a finding which indicates that the traditional Jewish family is holding up relatively well in the face of general changes in family formation habits in Britain. On the other hand, a higher proportion of Jewish households have people aged 65 or over living alone in them than British households in general, or for that matter, the households of almost every other minority group in the UK.

In addition, household data from the census provide valuable insights into the lives of students and young adults, revealing that there are more Jewish students based in Gateshead than any other city in the UK. Nottingham and Birmingham follow quite closely behind, and both Oxford and Cambridge feature among the top seven locations for Jewish students. One in five young adults aged 25-29 still live with their parents, and the proportion in that age group living alone declined by about a third between 2001 and 2011, probably due to issues around affordability.
Author(s): Boyd, Jonathan
Date: 2016
Abstract: This study, financed by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and supported by UJS and the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), is based on qualitative data gathered in focus groups held in early 2016 in several UK cities, and was designed to help UJS to refine its strategic priorities. It builds on the findings of the 2011 JPR study of Jewish students, the first in-depth look at Jewish student life in the UK.

The report highlights how key components of providing for Jewish students’ needs involve ensuring that the religiously observant are able to live full Jewish lives at university, and creating multiple frameworks for all Jewish students to explore what it means to be Jewish in an open, non-judgemental and thoughtful manner.

The report is published at a time of heightened concern about life on campus for Jewish students following violent protests at King’s College London and University College London in January and October respectively, and a reported increase in antisemitic incidents on campus in the first six months of this year.

The research finds that Jewish students rarely encounter traditional antisemitism at Britain’s universities, but notes that discourse about Israel and Zionism on campus can often be aggressive, intimidating and toxic, leaving some Jewish students frightened, angry and confused. It also includes some evidence of Jewish students being cautious about revealing their Jewish identity in public, and particularly any connections they may have with Israel. Nevertheless, it indicates that their general interactions with non-Jews on campus are typically positive, with open interest and even a desire to be included in Jewish events not uncommon.

The study highlights the importance of community in Jewish student life, and the role that Jewish Societies play in providing a home from home. It argues that JSocs should see themselves as surrogate Jewish communities, working year-on-year to create models of community that are warm, engaging and non-judgemental.
Date: 2017