(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Britain's Jewish community is enjoying a demographic revival for the first time in 50 years because of massive growth in its haredi population.
Almost three out of every four Jewish babies in the UK are born to ultra-Orthodox families, who account for 46,500 out of the estimated 280,000 Jews in the UK, according to Dr. Yaakov Wise of Manchester University's Center for Jewish Studies. By the second half of this century, haredim will outnumber secular ones, he said.
"Though Britain's Jewish population is the fifth largest in the world, it has declined by 40 percent, from over 450,000 in 1950 to only 280,000 today," Wise said. "The high birth rate of ultra-Orthodox Jews is now reversing this trend and that will have a major impact on the Jewish community in the years to come."
The number of secular Jews is declining by about 2% a year as a result of low birth rates, emigration to Israel and high rates of intermarriage, Wise said.
"The birth rate has exceeded the mortality rate for the first time since [World War II] in each year since 2005," Wise said. "Secular Jewish women have on average 1.65 children whereas the ultra-Orthodox have on average 6.9.
"That is a major contributory factor to my view that ultra-Orthodox Jews are set to outnumber their more secular counterparts by the second half of this century," he said.
Wise cited figures from communities across the UK underling these trends.
"In Greater Manchester, the ultra-Orthodox number over 8,500, which is almost a third of the 28,000 Jews in the region. This is up from around one quarter only 10 years ago.
"And in Greater London, the ultra-Orthodox now account for 18% of the Jewish population, up from less than 10% in the early 1990s."
The latest birth rates were calculated from annual records completed in December 2007 and they are expected to rise further in 2008.
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