By Geoffrey Alderman, June 17, 2010
The counting of Jews has never been straightforward. Orthodox Jews maintain that it is forbidden to count Jews directly. Some say that in biblical times a half-shekel was taken from every Jew, and then the coins were counted.
Today, in Israel, the prohibition on counting Jews is side-stepped through the argument that the census also counts non-Jews. In Britain, the census now contains a religious identity question, but I have come across individual Jews who tell me either that they do not answer this question, or that they answer in a nonsensical manner.