US Jewry

Global Jewish Population Almost as Big as Before the Holocaust

By Lucy Draper, Newsweek

The global Jewish population has grown to almost the same size as before the Holocaust according to a new report which was presented to the Israeli cabinet yesterday.

Independent think tank the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) has published new figures revealing that the world’s Jewish population now stands at 14.2 million. However, when it factored in people who have one Jewish parent and those who identify as partially Jewish then this number increased to almost 16.5 million, reportedly the same as it was before the beginning of the Second World War.

During the Holocaust it’s estimated that over six million Jews were murdered, although some believe this number to be even higher.

The JPPI report estimated that in the last 10 years the global Jewish population has increased by 8% and indicated that there were several reasons for this rise. Israel, which is currently home to 6.1 million Jews has a very high birth rate – one of the highest in the Western world, but the JPPI also said that they had found “changing patterns of Jewish identification” in the last few years, which is another factor for the increasing Jewish population.

The total number includes secular Jews who do not necessarily adhere to Jewish life and its traditions, and also the 350,000 Israelis who fled to the country after the Soviet Union collapsed but who are not considered Jewish by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior.

In the US, where there are 5.7 million Jews, 59% of adult children who have one Jewish parent now identify as Jewish, something that Avinoam Bar-Yosef, the institute’s president credits to the fact that it’s more “respectable” to be Jewish in America than it was a few years ago.

Bar-Yosef also said he believes the Birthright Israel project has led to more people publicly identifying as Jewish. The project sees young Jewish people from around the world visit Israel for a 10-day “educational trip”. So far 400,000 have participated.

After the US, the country with the second largest population is France, although its population is much lower at 475,000. Following Friday’s attack in which a man was decapitated at a gas factory in southeastern France and an Islamist flag was found at the scene, an Israeli minister appealed for French Jews to emigrate to Israel. Zeev Elkin, the Israeli Aliyah and immigrant absorption minister, issued a statement saying: “I call to the Jews of France to come home, the anti-Semitism is rising, the terror is rising, by reports, [Isis] activists are killing in broad daylight.”