UK Jews hatched, matched, despatched… and frum­mer

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

AT LEAST two out of ev­ery five Jewish ba­bies in the UK are born to strictly Ortho­dox par­ents — the high­est pro­por­tion ever cited in of­fi­cial Board of Deputies sta­tis­tics.

Charedi chil­dren “now com­prise 40 per cent or more” of all Jewish births, com­pared with a third when cal­cu­lated in the last Board sur­vey pub­lished four years ago.

But Jewish re­li­gious mar­riages in the UK have dropped to the low­est to­tal on record — 836 in the year 2010 — since records be­gan in 1901.

Over the past 30 years, mar­riages tak­ing place in the United Syn­a­gogue and other cen­tral Ortho­dox com­mu­ni­ties have fallen from nearly two thirds to just un­der half. Mean­while, Charedi mar­riages have risen from one in ten to nearly three in ten at the lat­est count.

Since 2005, there have been more Jewish births recorded each year than Jewish funer­als: 3,313 births in 2007 (the last year for which a fig­ure has been cal­cu­lated) com­pared with 2,734 deaths in 2010.

How­ever, Daniel Vulkan, au­thor of the Board’s new de­mo­graphic re­port, cau­tions against as­sum­ing that Bri­tish Jewry, af­ter years of nu­mer­i­cal de­cline, has be­gun to grow again. “There is no ac­cu­rate means of as­sess­ing mi­gra- tion to or from the UK,” he writes. “And, while data may be avail­able on the num­ber of peo­ple choos­ing to con­vert to Ju­daism, it is not pos­si­ble to say how many peo­ple de­cide each year that they no longer wish to iden­tify as part of the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

The Board says its fig­ures are “con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates” be­cause they ex­clude non-re­li­gious cir­cum­ci­sions per­formed on Jewish ba­bies by doc­tors as well as some car­ried out by strictly Ortho­dox mo­he­lim who are not mem­bers of the Ini­ti­a­tion So­ci­ety (which reg­u­lates tra­di­tional prac­ti­tion­ers).

The ex­tent of the rise in Charedi births, how­ever, can be gleaned from an­nounce­ments for a shalom za­chor, a cel­e­bra­tion for the birth of a boy. In Manch­ester and Stam­ford Hill alone, the num­ber of Charedi boys born Jewish re­li­gious mar­riages in 2010, low­est to­tal ever since records be­gan Jewish births recorded in 2007 Year records be­gan be­ing kept by Board of Deputies of all Jewish births are Charedi chil­dren leapt from 546 in 2007 to 710 in 2010. Although the fig­ure fell to 663 last year, it is “too early” to say whether this in­di­cates that Charedi birth rate is slow­ing down, the Board says.

While Jewish mar­riage rates ap­peared “flat” for the decade up to 2007, the lat­est sta­tis­tics in­stead show “a grad­ual de­cline” in re­cent years.

The Board does not col­lect data on sec­u­lar mar­riages be­tween Jews, same­sex cer­e­monies or bless­ings for mixed­faith unions given in syn­a­gogue.

Non-ortho­dox mar­riages fell slightly in quar­ter of a cen­tury from nearly 25 per cent in the 1981-5 pe­riod to un­der 23 per cent in 2006-10.

Also down was the num­ber of Jewish re­li­gious di­vorces, which de­creased in two decades from 277 in 1992 to 221 in 2010. Jewish deaths recorded in 2010 Charedi boys born in 2010 in Manch­ester and Stam­ford Hill Jewish ba­bies born in the UK are born to strictly Ortho­dox par­ents .3 Jewish mar­riages are Charedi

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