The fu­ture’s Charedi as birth rate booms

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

AROUND HALF of Jewish ba­bies born in Bri­tain will be strictly Ortho­dox within a gen­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port is­sued by the In­sti­tute for Jewish Pol­icy Re­search this week.

Charedim cur­rently rep­re­sent just un­der one in six of Bri­tish Jewry, but ow­ing to the com­mu­nity’s high birth rate, their chil­dren com­prise 30 per cent of all Jewish chil­dren in Bri­tain.

If high Charedi birth rates con­tinue, 50 per cent of Jewish chil­dren and around 30 per cent of young adults in the UK will be strictly Ortho­dox by 2031, the re­port says.

“Strictly Ortho­dox Jews are ex­pected to con­sti­tute a ma­jor­ity of the Bri­tish Jewish pop­u­la­tion long be­fore the 21st cen­tury is over,” say au­thors Daniel Staet­sky and Jonathan Boyd.

Analysing data from the 2011 Cen­sus as well as com­mu­nity sur­veys, they say that the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity is in­creas­ing at a rate of 4.8 per cent a year, while the non-Charedi Jewish pop­u­la­tion is de­clin­ing by 0.3 per cent.

Their high birth rate — at seven chil­dren per mother — is more than three times that of the over­all Jewish fig­ure of 1.98 in Eng­land and Wales and the na­tional pop­u­la­tion at 1.93. The birth rate is 3.25 for English and Welsh Mus­lims and 1.53 for Chris­tians.

Among Charedim, there are 137 young peo­ple un­der the age of 20 for ev­ery 100 be­tween the ages of 20 to 64 — a child de­pen­dency rate higher than for coun­tries in Africa and the Mid­dle East.

By con­trast, the rate is 37 for ev­ery 100 among Jews in Eng­land and Wales over­all and 40 per 100 for the UK pop­u­la­tion as a whole.

But the re­port, Strictly Ortho­dox Ris­ing, warns of chal­lenges ahead, not­ing that so­cial sci­en­tists have gen­er­ally linked a high pro­por­tion of young peo­ple in a pop­u­la­tion “to so­cial and po­lit­i­cal un­rest and growth in crim­i­nal­ity, es­pe­cially in the ab­sence of at­trac­tive em­ploy­ment prospects”.

How­ever, the Ortho­dox char­ity In­ter­link Foun­da­tion, said the re­port was flawed and sig­nif­i­cantly un­der­stated the size of the Charedi com­mu­nity.

JPR gives the strictly Ortho­dox pop­u­la­tion cur­rently as a max­i­mum of 43,571, but In­ter­link ar­gues that the true fig­ure is 58,500. The point at which Charedi births rep­re­sent 50 per cent will be reached much sooner than 2031, the char­ity said.

In­ter­link also crit­i­cised the “rep­re­hen­si­ble” com­ments on po­ten­tial un­rest among youth. “What­ever eco­nomic is­sues face the Charedi com­mu­nity — and in other parts of the world they are much more se­vere than in the UK — they have never re­motely been linked to so­cial and po­lit­i­cal un­rest and crim­i­nal­ity,” it said.

The char­ity also ex­pressed con­cern about the tone of the re­port, claim­ing that even the ti­tle was sug­ges­tive of a threat posed by the com­mu­nity.

In­ter­link re­jected “com­pletely the rel­e­vance or use­ful­ness of the com­men­tary about the Charedi ‘youth bulge’.

“We are con­cerned about pos­si­ble ma­li­cious uses of these as­pects of the re­port.”

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

The strictly Ortho­dox birth rate is three times that of the over­all Jewish com­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to the study by Jewish Pol­icy Re­search

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