September 14, 2000
Israeli Jews to Outnumber Those in U.S.
Jews in Israel will outnumber Jews in the United States in two decades, part of a shift in Jewish population by which Israel will become home to a majority of the world's Jews by 2050, says a study in the new edition of the "American Jewish Year Book."
The study concludes that trends indicate rapid growth in Israel, home to a younger Jewish population than anywhere else. It says that a few other nations will see short-term growth in their Jewish populations but that decline will set in outside Israel after 2020.
The study, titled, "Prospecting the Jewish Future: Population Projections, 2000-2080," was written by three Israeli demographers, Sergio Della Pergola, Uzi Rebhun and Mark Tolts, and will appear as a chapter in the year book. The 2000 edition is to be published this month by the American Jewish Committee.
The study may lend itself to ongoing discussions among Jewish organizations in the United States on how to increase communal identity and commitment among American Jews, especially in the face of a high rate of marriage between Jews and non- Jews, a trend seen as threatening to Jewish numbers.The study says the current global Jewish population is 13.1 million, of which 5.7 million live in the United States and 4.9 million in Israel.
The authors base their assumptions on a "medium" rate of fertility and continued emigration by Jews from the nations of the former Soviet Union, and they project the world Jewish population will rise by 2020 to 13.8 million with 5.6 million in the United States and 6.2 million in Israel.
The relative youth of Israel's Jewish population plays a part in the projection. "Already today, approximately 48 percent of all Jews 15 years old or younger live in Israel, a figure expected to rise, depending on fertility, to 57 to 62 percent of the world total by the year 2020," the study says.Still, some cautioned against placing too much weight on such population projections.
"The Diaspora is not disappearing and it's not going to disappear," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Reform synagogue organization.
This article appears courtesy of The New York Times.