May 24, 2010
Haredi numbers rise in Britain
Synagogue membership has stopped declining in Britain, due to a rise in the number of fervently Orthodox Jews.
Membership numbers for central Orthodox and liberal synagogues are still down from five years ago, according to a new survey by the Board of Deputies and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
But the numbers of haredim, or fervently Orthodox Jews, have more than doubled since 2005, from 4.5 percent to 10.9 percent of British Jews who are synagogue members, according to the survey.
Central Orthodox—equivalent to North America’s modern Orthodox—and Sephardim now make up 58.2 percent of the British Jewish population, down from 69.6 percent.
Britain’s non-Orthodox Jewish community, comprising Liberals, Masorti and Reform Jews, increased as a percentage of the total to 31 percent, even though their raw numbers decreased, due to the surge in growth of the haredi movements.
Nearly three-quarters of British Jews belong to a synagogue, the survey reports. That, however, represents a 20-year decline from 110,000 households in 1990 versus 83,000 today.
The authors say that later marriages among non-haredi Jews, and the resultant drop in the Jewish birthrate, may be affecting those figures.