Who are we?

For the first time, the number of children enrolled in the haredi education system is dropping, according to the figures released by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies ahead of Jerusalem Day.

Jerusalem street 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem street 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Every year, as the day marking the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War approaches, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies releases the latest figures on many aspects of the city’s demographics. The following data refer to the situation that prevailed at the end of 2011.
The 804,400 residents of Jerusalem comprised 511,400 Jews and others who were not Arab (64 percent), and 293,000 Arabs (36%). Of these residents, 486,800 lived in areas that were added to the city’s limits after 1967 – consisting of both Jews and Arabs, representing 61% of the capital’s entire population.
The largest Jewish neighborhoods were, as in the last few years: Ramot with 41,400 residents; Pisgat Ze’ev with 36,800; and Gilo with 27,800.
Jerusalem is still a city of the young – 45% of French Hill residents were between 20 and 34 years of age, along with 38% of those in Nahlaot and 33% of those in Rehavia.
But undoubtedly, the most interesting figure demonstrates an increasing trend of more pupils in the lower grades in public schools. What began two years ago is becoming more obvious, and moreover, it turns out that during 2011, there was a drop in the number of haredi pupils in the lower grades in public schools. In other words, more ultra-Orthodox families left the city – mostly for nearby haredi towns.
Some 258,800 pupils were registered in the Jerusalem’s educational system, the biggest among all of the Education Ministry’s districts. This number included 21,000 Arabs in private education institutions in east Jerusalem. (In comparison, among pupils through the end of high school, the number in Tel Aviv was 48,912, and in Haifa was 38,602.) In the current year (2012-2013), the total number of Jewish pupils is 159,400, of which 61,000 (38%) are in the public stream – both secular and religious – and 98,400 (62%) are in the haredi stream. But the newest figure indicates a dramatic change in haredi society, with a drop in registration among pupils in the first to sixth grade in the haredi educational system – for the first time in more than two decades.
According to the findings of Dr. Maya Choshen, a senior research fellow at JIIS, this year we are witnessing that essential change, with the first clear drop in the number of haredi pupils registered in the elementary schools – from 36,350 in 2011-12 to 35,880 in 2012- 13. At the same time, the rise in the number of pupils in public elementary schools that began two years ago is continuing – with 460 additional students in the religious public schools (from 11,000 in 2011- 12, to 11,460 in 2012-13) and a smaller, but still clear increase in the secular public schools (from 11,130 in 2011-2012, to 11,270 in 2012-2013).
Once in high school, students passed the matriculation tests at a rate of 94% among graduates of the public religious and secular schools, compared with 34% of graduates of the haredi education system. Among students who took the test in public religious schools, 71% obtained the matriculation certificate (compared to 69% of the whole country in this category); 60% earned the certificate in the secular public stream (compared to 67% for the rest of the country) – a drop from the previous year’s results of 62%. In the haredi system, 11% of Jerusalem’s students obtained their certificates (compared to 10% for the rest of the country).
These figures confirm another finding on Jerusalem’s population that has already been known for a few years – namely that a large number of those who leave the city each year are haredi – and not just the secular. Nevertheless, no fewer than 17,800 residents moved out of Jerusalem in 2011, while only 10,400 moved in. Among those who left, 1,850 chose Beit Shemesh while 1,500 preferred Tel Aviv. Bnei Brak contributed 660 new residents to the capital in 2011, and Tel Aviv sent us 600 new residents. But only 4% of the people who moved in and out of Jerusalem were aged 65 and up – meaning that this movement concerned mostly the young and middle-aged.
Another finding that usually generates a lot of interest each year is the birthrate among the city’s Jews and Arabs. During 2011, 22,200 babies were born in the capital, of whom 14,100 (63%) were born to Jewish mothers and 7,900 (35%) were born to Muslim mothers. Here again, the tendency has reversed – while in 2001 the Jerusalem birthrate was 3.7 children among Jews compared to 4.3 among Arabs, it changed to 4.2 children among Jews compared to 3.6 among Arabs.
Jerusalemites worked, but less when compared to the rest of Israel – in the years 2008-11, 46% participated in the workforce (compared to 57% in the rest of the country). Among women, 39% participated (with a 52% national average) and among men, 52% (with a 62% national average).
Among Jerusalem residents aged 20 and above, 31% declared they were haredi, and 21% said they were religious (compared to 9% and 10% respectively in the rest of the country).
Last but not least, Jerusalemites were, overall, quite satisfied with their life. Between 2009 and 2011, half of Jerusalem residents said they were very satisfied, 41% were satisfied (for a total of 91%) – with only 8% not so satisfied. And the capital’s residents were even more optimistic than those in the rest of the country – 70% believed their future will be better, while only 60% in Tel Aviv and 53% in Haifa thought the same. •