The gauge remains unchanged from last year
As in previous years, the Jewish population grew in the past year at a moderate rate of around 100,000 people; at the beginning of 2019 it was estimated at 14.7 million. This change derives from the rise in the number of Jews in Israel, from 6.55 million at the start of 2018 to 6.66 million at the start of 2019 (an increase of 110,000 or 1.7 percent), which was partially offset by the slight decline in the number of Jews in the Diaspora. Furthermore, at the beginning of this year there were 427,000 people of no religion in Israel, that is, immigrants eligible under the Law of Return and who have put down national and social roots in Israel but are not Jewish according to Halacha.
Altogether, the ratio between Jews and non-Jews in Israel (including Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria) remains stable – roughly 79 percent Jews and 21 percent non-Jews. The Jewish group also includes residents with no religion, based on the assumption that they are socially and culturally settled in the majority society (without them the ratio of Jews to non-Jews would be 74 and 26 percent, respectively). It should be noted that this past March (2019), for the first time Israel’s population reached more than 9 million persons.
The number of Jews in the United States, the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, remains stable and stands at around 5.7 million people. This estimate relies, in large part, on findings from the 2013 Pew Report and assessments of demographic trends among US Jews since then. Nevertheless, it should be noted that there are also higher estimates of the American Jewish population, up to 6.7 million or 7 million. The differences are due to different definitions of “Jewishness,” that is, of who should be included in the count. The broader estimates also include those who indicated in surveys that they were partly Jewish; additionally, other sources were also used.
Most of the growth in Israel’s Jewish population stems from natural reproduction (89 percent of the increase) with another 11 percent deriving from a positive migration balance (Aliyah).
The lion’s share of those immigrating to Israel – about three fourths – comes from Europe (particularly from Russia, Ukraine and France), another 17 percent are from America and Oceania, and some 6 percent from Asia and Africa. We should note that less than half (46.1 percent) of immigrants to Israel in 2018 were Jews, and only they were included in the number of Jews in Israel and in assessing the demographic change in the Jewish population over the past year.
Following several years of higher birth rates among Jewish women in Israel – from 3.09 in 2014 to 3.16 in 2016 – in 2017 (the latest year for which we have updated data) the rate remained unchanged. Despite the continuing trend of a rise in the number of Jews, because of Israel’s positive balance we have left the gauge unchanged this year.