A detailed and thorough report examining 1,000 years of European Jewish history and demography found that the Jewish population in Europe today is shrinking, and is almost identical to the proportion living in Europe 900 years ago.
Written by Jewish demographers Professor Sergio DellaPergola and Dr. Daniel Staetsky, Chair and Director of UK-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research’s European Jewish Demography Unit, the report explores how the European Jewish population has ebbed and flowed over almost a millennia.
It begins in the 12th century and moves toward the tremendous growth of the 19th and early 20th centuries, followed by the dramatic decline prompted by a combination of mass migration and the horrors of the Holocaust.
Extraordinarily, the study found that the proportion of world Jewry living in Europe today is almost identical to the proportion living in Europe 900 years ago.
Jews in Europe had constituted 83% of world Jewry in 1900 but currently account for merely 9% of the total number of Jews worldwide, according to the study.
Using multiple definitions of Jewishness and a vast array of sources to determine the size of the contemporary population, the study proceeds to measure it in multiple ways, looking at the major blocs of the European Union and the European countries of the Former Soviet Union, as well as providing country-by-country analyses.
The study found there are 1.3 million people who describe themselves as Jewish in Europe, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Russia.
This figure constitutes a 60% decline since 1970, when there were 3.2 million Jews in Europe.
The authors attribute the decline mostly to the emigration of more than 1.5 million people from the former Soviet Union following the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
Western European Jewry has shrunk by 8.5% since 1970. There are just over one million Jews in Western Europe in 2020, compared to 1,112,000 in 1970.
The report describes the Jewish community of Germany as being in a “terminal” state because more than 40% of its 118,000 Jews are above the age of 65 while less than 10% are under 15.
This reality, which is similar in Russia and Ukraine, “foreshadows high death rates and unavoidable future population decline,” the study says.
The declining trend shaping European Jewry is not likely to be reversed, the study includes.
Conversely, over 70 years after the Holocaust, the world’s largest Jewish population lives in Israel, constituting 45 percent of world Jewry.
There are 14,410,700 million Jews in the world, the Knesset’s Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee showed in July, and 45% or 6,740,000 of them live in Israel, 6,088,000 in North America, 1,072,400 in Europe, 324,000 in South America, 300,000 in Asia, 120,000 in Australia and New Zealand and 74,000 in Africa.
Israel has welcomed more than 255,000 Olim (immigrants) from 150 different countries in the past decade.
Between the years 2000 and 2017, 10% of the French Jewish community, the largest in Europe, immigrated to Israel.
Since Israel’s establishment as a State, about 3.3 million immigrants immigrated to Israel, about 44.3% of whom immigrated from 1990 onwards.
The Jewish state is expecting a quarter of a million Olim in the next 3-5 years, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog told the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee in August, a wave of immigration following the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.