Chareidi Cities in Israel Continue to Grow, Kein Yirbu
By Betzalel Kahn and M Plaut
While Jerusalem, the largest city in Israel, grew 1.9 percent
(an increase of 12,800 people), chareidi towns and cities all
over Israel continued to grow at a much higher rate than the
rest of the country, with the exception of Bnei Brak, which
grew just 0.5 percent, according to data published by the
Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Monday. Israel's
overall population growth rate in 2003 was the lowest since
1990. In 2003 Israel's population increased by 117,000 people
amounting to a 1.8 percent increase.
The overall population growth rate has been steadily
declining for the past several years. In 2002, growth was 1.9
percent, while in 2001 it was 2.2 percent and in 2000 it was
One factor was certainly the decline in new immigrants
arriving in Israel. In 2001, 46,500 new immigrants came to
Israel, compared to 36,700 in 2002 and only 26,100 last year.
If immigration had continued at the rate of 2001, the
population growth would have been about the same as that
year, for example. However, for several years more than half
of the immigrants declared themselves as non-Jewish, even
though many still had the right to enter under the Law of
According to the CBS estimate, Israel's population in
December 2003 was 6.7 million people.
At the end of 2003 there were 139,600 people living in Bnei
Brak--just 700 more than the previous year. The Central
Bureau for Statistics notes that despite a young population
profile the city has seen a slowdown in its growth rate in
recent years due to the large number of residents migrating
out. In 2003 the population of the city was reduced by 3,000
residents due to a negative migration balance (3,000 more
migrated out than in) primarily to Beitar Illit, Modi'in
Illit and Elad as well as the chareidi parts of Ashdod and
The towns of Beitar Illit, Modi'in Illit and Elad were the
obvious magnets for chareidi population. Beitar Illit posted
a huge growth rate of 13.4 percent in 2003, increasing its
population from 20,200 to 22,900 in one year. Modi'in Illit
(Kiryat Sefer) posted a very high growth rate of 10.4 percent
in 2003, increasing its population from 22,000 to 24,300.
Elad posted a stunning growth rate of 20.5 percent in 2003,
increasing its population from 19,000 to 22,900. The summary
figures did not indicate how much of the increase was due to
births and how much to migration.
The town of Rechasim grew 4.5 percent, bringing the
population from 7,700 to 8,100.
Kiryat Ye'arim (Telz-Stone) grew 4.9 percent, bringing the
population from 2,800 to 2,900. Emanuel grew 2.3 percent,
bringing the population from 2,400 to 2,500.
Beit Shemesh, which has a large chareidi area now accounting
for approximately 40 percent of the population, grew 6.8
percent. The number of residents rose from 53,400 to 57,000
at the end of 2003. According to those numbers the chareidi
residents of Bet Shemesh number about 22,800, making its
chareidi community about the same size those of as Beitar
Illit, Modi'in Illit and Elad.
Tel Aviv saw a population increase of only 3,000 during the
last year -- less than 1 percent. Cities just outside Tel
Aviv, including Ramat Gan, Bat-Yam, Petach Tikva, Holon, Lod,
Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya, Raanana and Kfar Saba, had
population growth close to zero percent.
Haifa actually shrank last year by 0.5 percent.
Interestingly, the growth rate in Arab communities has been
decreasing significantly. The decrease is attributed by CBS
analysts to a slowdown in births. Another factor is the
decline in family unification under new guidelines of the
Ministry of Interior. Some observers expect a further decline
in Arab births with the recent cuts in NII child support