UK Jewish population grows for second consecutive census

The growth is thought to be largely from Charedi communities


Close up image depicting a rear view of two Jewish men sitting together inside a synagogue. They have their heads bowed in prayer and they are wearing the traditional Jewish skull cap - otherwise known as a kippah or yarmulke - on their heads. Horizontal color image with copy space.

The number of Jews in England and Wales has risen over the past decade according to newly published figures from the 2021 Census.

Those who identified as Jewish by religion increased from 265,073 in 2011 to 271,327 in last year’s survey of the nation - a rise of 2.4 per cent.

It is the second successive Census with a recorded rise in the Jewish population - which is almost certainly due to the increasing size of the Charedi community - after the sharp fall in numbers over the second half of the last century.

The figures are based on responses to the voluntary question on religion in the Census. A small number of Jews will have identified as “ethnic” rather than “religious”. The data for Scotland and Northern Ireland are still to come.

Jews remain at around 0.5 per cent of the population in England, which has become increasingly secular.

For the first time, fewer than half of those in England and Wales identified as Christian, 27.5 million (a fall from 59.3 per cent to 46.2 per cent of the population), while the numbers of those who said they had no religion climbed to 22.2 million (from 25.2 per cent to 37.2 per cent).

Other non-Christian religions also experienced a rise: the number of Muslims stands at 3.9 million (up from 4.9 per cent to 6.5 per cent): Hindus at one million (up from 1.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent): Sikhs, 524,000 (up from 0.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent): and Buddhists 273,000 (up from 0.4 per cent to 0.5).

Some 348,000 people identify with other religions, while four million (around six per cent) did not answer the question.

Jon Wroth-Smith, Census deputy director for the Office of National Statistics, said “The results show that there are fewer people who have a religious identity. More than 22 million people – an increase of 8 million since 2011 – said they had ‘No religion’.

"And for the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population reported their religion as Christian, although it remained the most common response."

The core UK Jewish population was reckoned by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research to stand at 292,000 in 2011, once estimates for those who did not answer the religion question and the small fraction who identified by ethnicity rather than religion were factored in.

A two per cent rise would put the Jewish community now at nearly 298,000.

Jews live in every local authority in England and Wales, from 56,616 in Barnet - the largest concentration - to five in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, according to the Census.

There has also been rise in those who speak Hebrew and Yiddish as their main language. Hebrew speakers were up from 6,207 in 2011 to 6,672 in 2021 (making it the 65th most popular non-English language) and Yiddish speakers up from 3,987 to 5,356 (making it 69th). The most popular languages are Polish, Romanian, Panjabi and Urdu.

Top centres of Jewish population:

1. Barnet 56,616
2. Hertsmere 18,346
3. Hackney 17,426
4. Bury 10,734
5. Salford 10,373
6. Camden 10,079
7. Haringey 9,397
8. Harrow 7,304
9. Redbridge 6,412
10. Leeds 6,627

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