Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5763 - April 9, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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British Chareidi Community Increasing
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The 2001 census of Britain found just under 267,000 Jews in England, Scotland and Wales, making them slightly less than 0.5 percent of the British population. But the religion question was voluntary and nearly a quarter of the overall population did not answer it.

Areas that are known to have substantial Jewish populations, such as chareidi neighborhoods in London, tended to have higher than average "no response" or "no religion" answers to the religion question, according to Stanley Waterman of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, a London think tank.

The institute suggests there may be as many as 310,000 Jews in Britain, almost 10 percent more than the 285,000 estimate by the Board of Deputies.

Still, even the figure of 285,000 may be high by traditional standards, as many of these people probably do not have Jewish mothers, and others are very estranged from the Jewish community.

Waterman said the chareidi community in particular had been undercounted. The census found slightly fewer than 11,000 Jews in the London borough of Hackney, home of the country's largest chareidi population. A survey conducted by the Interlink Foundation last year put the range of the community in Stamford Hill between 18,000 and 22,000, kein yirbu. The Interlink Foundation said that the community is growing by about 8 percent a year, which means that it can be expected to double in about 9 years.

Rabbi Avraham Pinter, the principal of a chareidi girls' school and a former city council member from Hackney, said many chareidi Jews had not answered the religion question on the UK census. He said that one of the two newspapers serving the community, The Jewish Tribune, discouraged chareidi Jews from answering the religion question.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has done surveys since the census that found that only 84 percent of non- chareidi Jews in London and 89 percent of Jews in the northern city of Leeds said they were Jewish on the census form.

Barry Kosmin, director of the institute, said there was also an undercount among the elderly and the foreign-born, and perhaps among students. Kosmin said the census found another surprising result: the presence of at least three Jews in every one of the country's 367 local authorities, except the remote Scilly Isles off England's southwestern tip.

"The most Jewish Jews, the chareidim, didn't show up on the survey, but the Jews of the shires revealed themselves," he told JTA, referring to rural parts of the country.

"The Board of Deputies estimated that there were 8,000 Jews outside of the 20 main centers, and the census showed 25,000," he said

He added the census seemed to support findings from a major study of the Jews of London published by the institute at the end of last year.

The survey, "A Portrait of Jews in London and the South- East," found the community to be generally more interested in Jewish culture than religion.

The survey found Jews to be predominantly secular, middle- class and settled.

The 2001 census was the first since 1851 that attempted to survey religion in Britain, but the 1851 census counted houses of worship, rather than asking people their religion.


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