Photo Credit: Flash90
New olim from North America arrive at Ben Gurion airport, August 14, 2019.

On the eve of the year 5780, the number of Jews in the world stands at about 14.8 million, compared with 14.7 million in 5779. And the number of persons around the world eligible to receive Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return stands at 16.5 million – according to the updated estimates of Professor Sergio Della Pergola of the Hebrew University, published in the 2019 American Jewish Year Book (AJYB).

The data includes anyone who defines themselves as Jewish and who does not hold a different religious identity.

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In 1939, the world’s Jewish population reached its historical peak of 17 million (0.8% of the global population). This number was reduced to 11 million by 1945, after the Holocaust. The world’s Jewish population grew again to around 13 million by the 1970s, but has since recorded near-zero growth until around 2005, due to low fertility rates and assimilation. From 2005 to 2013, the world’s Jewish population has grown modestly at a rate of around 0.78%.

More than half the Jewish population lives outside Israel, 5.7 million of them in the United States. 6.7 million Jews live in Israel – an increase of about 100,000 over the past year,

More than 400,000 persons entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return who are not listed as Jews in the Population Register live in Israel.

“Last year, tens of thousands of olim arrived in Israel with the assistance of the Jewish Agency,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Yitzhak Herzog, adding that “tens of thousands of young Jews have been visiting the country through educational programs.”

According to Herzog, the main challenge facing world Jews today is anti-Semitism, “which has peaked in recent years.”

Chairman Herzog said the Jewish Agency would continue “efforts to connect young Jews from around the world to Israel, against the background of the boycott and delegitimization movements.”

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