The Jewish population in England and Wales has grown more over the past decade than initially reported, according to updated statistics from the last Census.
English and Welsh Jewry increased by 5.7 per cent from 2011 to 2021, rather than 2.4 per cent as earlier reported, the Office of National Statistics has said after taking into account the number of Jews who identified as ethnically - but not religiously - Jewish.
Whereas the number who identified as Jewish by religion was 271,325 when the first results of the national survey appeared, now the Jewish population has been officially put at 287,360. It is up from 271,904 in 2011.
The revised figures reflect a greater willingness among Jews than before to identify as part of an ethnic group.
“Jewish” was one of the categories listed as a response to the voluntary question on religion in the Census.
Although it was not listed as a category in the ethnic question, respondents could tick “other” and then write in that they were Jewish.
There was a significant rise in the proportion of Jews who identified as ethnic only - up by 87.3 per cent from 8,558 in 2011 to 16,030; and in those who identified as both religiously and ethnically Jewish, up by 106.9 per cent from 25,212 in 2011 to 52,165.
In fact, there was an eight per cent drop since 2011 in the number who identified only as Jewish by religion - compared with “the increase in the number of people who identified as Jewish through the ethnic group question”, the ONS said.
More than three-quarters of Jews in England and Wales (76.2 per cent) identified by religion only, 18.2 per cent ticked both the religion and ethnic boxes and 5.6 per cent identified by ethnicity only.
The UK Jewish population will be larger than the official figure owing to the number who did not identify at all as Jewish, either through religion or ethnicity. The Institute for Jewish Policy Research believes there was a considerable undercount within the Charedi community in particular and up to 3,500 strictly Orthodox children up to the age of 15 may have been excluded from the ONS data.
Numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to be released.
People who identified as ethnically Jewish only were more likely to be aged 30 to 59, while those who identified as both religiously and ethnically Jewish had a younger profile with a higher proportion under the age of 19.
The vast majority of those identified as Jewish by religion regarded themselves as white - 93.8 per cent. For those who identified as ethnic only, 54.9 per cent put white, while 33.9 put “other”, 10.5 per cent mixed and 0.9 per cent black. Of those who identified as both religious and ethnic, 48.5 per cent put white and 49.6 per cent “other”.
The Board of Deputies has called for Jewish to be included directly as an ethnic category in addition to religion in the next Census.