Friday, May 18, 2007

How lifestyles are rapidly changing for Jews in Britain

Ruth Gledhill:

The stereotype of a prosperous, homogenous Jewish community concentrated in a few boroughs in London and Manchester is demolished as “myth” in a new report.

The study, published today, is expected to force a radical rethink about the nature of Britain’s 270,000-strong Jewish community. It depicts a future for British Judaism dominated by the strictly Orthodox.

The future looks bleak for modern Jews, with numbers eroded by secularisation and marrying into other religions.

The report, by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, found that stereotypes about the Jewish housewife, the married Jewish couple and the successful and wealthy Jewish citizen no longer matched the reality of what exists in Britain.

One of the most surprising findings for the authors was that Jewish people, who were thought of generally as living in concentrated groups in cities such as London, Manchester and Glasgow, were spread across all but one of the 408 districts in Britain.

More than 20,000 lived in counties such as Northumberland, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Warwickshire, previously thought of as having a minimal Jewish population. However, nearly a quarter lived in the London boroughs of Barnet and Redbridge, and more than half lived in eight other boroughs, including Hackney in London, Bury and Leeds.

More Jews than almost any other religious or ethnic group lived in a single-person household, the study found, while many “Jewish” households included members who were not Jewish.

Although the population was ageing, the exceptionally high birth rate of the strictly Orthodox community meant that the demographic and religious make-up of British Jewry “will be very different in a generation or so”, the report says.

The study, based on statistics in the 2001 Census, found that Jewish women were not only outperforming women in the general population at the highest levels of the professions, but were also outperforming men.

In the ultra-Orthodox communities, many families were found to live in social housing. In Hackney, where the ultra-Orthodox community of Stamford Hill is based, just 38 per cent of Jewish households owned their own homes compared with 77 per cent of Jews nationally, and 47 per cent of those aged over 25 were economically inactive.

Nuclear family no longer the norm for UK Jews

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