(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWS)
On the eve of the Jewish New Year 5779, there are some 14.7 million Jews in the world, a rise of about 100,000 since last year, with the vast majority of them in Israel and the United States.
According to figures released by Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola, Israel is home to the world’s largest Jewish population, with some 6.6 million Jews in Israel.
Another 8.1 million Jews live outside Israel, with some 5.7 million living in the US. Other significant populations include France (453,000), Canada (391,000), and the UK (290,000).
According to studies conducted by Della Pergola, the world’s Jewish population has been rising by about 100,000 per year. The 0.7 percent growth rate is significantly lower than the overall global population growth rate of 1.1 percent.
The criteria used to define Jews were anybody who defined themselves as Jewish and did not identify with another religion. However, the research also found that there are 23.5 million people who would qualify to emigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.
Israel’s Law of Return gives every Jew, or child or grandchild of a Jew, the right to Israeli citizenship on demand.
According to Della Pergola, Arab and Muslim nations are home to just 27,000 Jews, with 15,000 in Turkey, 8,500 in Iran, and 2,000 in Morocco. The Muslim world was home to an estimated 850,000 Jews before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
In contrast, Germany is today home to 119,000 Jews, up from some 37,000 Jews immediately after the Second World War. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
There are a total of 98 countries that are home to 100 or more Jews, the new data established.
Israel is now home to 8.907 million citizens in all — 162,000 more than a year ago, according to data published Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Israel’s Jewish population numbers 6.625 million people — 74.4% of the country’s population. Some 1.864 million, or 20.9%, are Arab, and the remaining 418,000 are other minorities.
The country’s population is expected to reach 10 million in late 2024, according to the data.
Some 44.3% of Israelis define themselves as secular, while 21.4% are traditional, 12.3% are traditional with religious leanings, 11.5% are religious, and 10.2% are ultra-Orthodox.
Israel’s fertility rate, at an average of 3.11 children born per woman, continued to be the highest among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). About 175,000 babies were born and 43,000 people died during the past year, with 25,000 people making aliyah.
President Reuven Rivlin released an English-language greeting Saturday to mark the Jewish new year in which he emphasized the importance of the connections between Jewish people, noting the shared root in the Hebrew words for “friend” and “connection.”
“The bonds that hold us together stretch across the world today and deep into our shared history. I know we are at a time when some see the things that divide us more clearly than those that unite us,” said Rivlin.
“For some, it can be hard to see what we have in common. I know that there are times when we do not agree with each other. I know there are times when we do not feel like friends. So, as we approach this Rosh Hashanah, let us reflect on what we share, on the links that bind us together,” he said.
His message comes following a year that has seen bitter disputes between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities, particularly over a decision to suspend a 2016 decision to guarantee non-Orthodox Jews permanent access for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall.