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Author(s): Kasstan, Ben
Date: 2016
Abstract: Using an integrated archival and ethnographic approach, this study investigates how the growing Haredi Jewish minority and the UK government negotiate their positions in the context of healthcare services in Manchester as one of the few sites where they directly engage. Low-level uptake of certain maternal and infant health interventions has led to claims that Haredi Jews are ‘hard to reach’ or a ‘non-compliant community.’ This thesis critically engages the above outlook by exploring how responses to healthcare services should be framed.
Rather than evading the NHS altogether, as the ‘hard to reach’ label implies, Haredi Jews in Manchester selectively negotiate healthcare services in order to avoid a cosmological conflict with the halachic custodianship of Jewish bodies. Maternal and infant care is situated as a particularly sensitive area of minority-state relations in which competing constructions of bodily protection are at play. Whilst maternal and infant care has historically formed part of the state’s strategy to govern the population, it is increasingly being seized as a point of intervention by Haredi rabbis, doulas, and parents when attempting to reproduce the Haredi social body.
Following Roberto Esposito’s (2015 [2002]) theoretical elaboration of ‘immunitas’ the present work depicts the margins as giving rise to antonymic conceptions of ‘immunity’ as a means of protecting collective life. Interventions that the state regard as protecting the health of the nation can, in turn, be viewed as a threat to the life of the Jewish social body. Immunity at the margins can be characterised by an antonymic fault of both the Haredim and the state to understand each other’s expectations of health and bodily care. The margins of the state illustrate how responses to healthcare interventions can be entangled within a struggle of integration, insulation, and assimilation for minority groups in ways that are contiguous over time.
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.
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: 2007