population growth

Just read an article on the BBC about how the Jewish population in the UK is rising rapidly. No comment from me on the point of the article, but some of the way it was written made me want to be picky and pedantic, and seeing as this is my website I think I have the right.

Orthodox Jews in London First thing I noticed was the picture – it seemed to me that it was quite a cliched-looking group. However the article goes on to talk about how the Orthodox population and tradition is a large part of the reason for Jewish population growth, so kind of fair enough. Could have maybe found a happier looking bunch though!

Secondly the following couple of paragraphs:

The population fell to a historic low of 275,000 in 2005, but that figure has since increased to 280,000 in 2008.

The figures were based on UK census data and the monitoring of Jewish births by academics.

Do they mean “The monitoring by academics of Jewish births”? It’s quite a different meaning!

Next pedantic point:

Dr Yaakov Wise, of Manchester University’s Centre for Jewish Studies, says the population has now risen, to about 280,000, and attributes the growth to the extraordinary fertility of strictly orthodox families.

Surely they mean that although the strictly orthodox families are large due to, ahem, cultural practices, they’re not necessarily more fertile than non-orthodox Jews, or anyone else. Surely it’s more to do with being less likely to use birth control?

Also one of the quotes which came out of this from Dr. Wise: “Approximately half of all the Jewish under-fives in Greater Manchester are ultra-orthodox.” I would think he means that they are from ultra-orthodox families. Can a three-year-old truly have ultra-orthodox beliefs?

In fact now I think about it the whole article is kind of grating to me. It seems that this research came from someone who defines Jewishness as subscribing to the Jewish faith, not so much Jewish heritage, based on this quote “Dr Wise – who says his research is based on regular monitoring of Jewish births – attributes the decline in the Jewish population to the fact that about half of more secular Jews marry outside the community, and many of them do not bring their children up as Jewish.” I was under the impression that being Jewish can be as much ancestral (many people describe themselves as being secular Jews) as religious.

One Response to “population growth”

  1. Dolf says:

    It is accepted by the UK Jewish community that it is within the ultra-Orthodox communities that the greatest growth occurs in terms of births as it is a commandment to “go forth and mutliply”, resulting in as many as 15 children per family. The monitoring of births is a controversial topic as it is mostly based on birth notices in the (Orthodox) Jewish press. Finally, while it is held by many that being Jewish is an ethnic matter, to the ultra-Orthodox it IS a matter of religion and children are brought up in that manner from day one. We may not agree with it but that is their culture. I do not subscribe to it but I respect it, even though they do not recognise my own Jewish denomination (UK Reform). And we all run Sunday schools!

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