The Manchester Jewish Representative Council has warned that communal strategy must be based on reliable demographic data, particularly for the mainstream. But there was no questioning the growth of the local Charedi community.
Introducing a panel discussion at Sunday’s meeting on the city’s changing Jewish population, Frank Baigel said that figures often quoted were based “on rumours, prejudice and hearsay”.
Former mathematics lecturer Martin Stern said data he had collated on births in the strictly Orthodox community since 1996 corroborated other data suggesting that 35 per cent of Manchester Jews were Charedi. Another panellist, Dr Yaakov Wise, predicted that up to half the city’s Jewish population would be Charedi within 10 years.
But Janis Stout — a former government consultant who has been analysing 2011 Census data on Manchester — cautioned that the impact of the growing proportion of strictly Orthodox should not be overstated.
“Our population is increasing but it is not significant with the Census revealing a total Anglo-Jewish increase of just 0.8 per cent over 10 years.”
Manchester UJIA’s Sally Halon said there was little point talking about the communal future without addressing the issue of the “missing generation of under-40s, where there is large apathy and a group who don’t see it as their role to get involved in communal life”.
Speaking from the floor, voluntary sector consultant Jonny Wineberg said the community could not ignore Census data showing a “surprising decrease in the Cheadle community. There are losses we are not seeing. In 2001 we saw an increase in 25-35-year-olds who were leaving Manchester. If that’s still the case it’s a huge problem. What we should be doing is addressing why people are leaving.”