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The baby gap...and how it’s changing the face of the community

    The overall number of Jewish births in the UK is at its highest level for more than 40 years — but when the Charedi population is removed from the figures, the numbers look very different and show a continuing fall.

    In 2011 there were 3,860 recorded births. That is the highest since an estimated 4,000 in the late 1960s, and the fourth successive year of increase.

    For the seventh year in succession, births outstrip deaths.

    But with Charedi babies representing four in every 10 Jews born, the overall number is a reflection of the accelerating growth of the strictly Orthodox community.

    On current trends, a majority of babies will be Charedi within a few years, and a majority of weddings within a decade.

    The figures are taken from the latest report on births, deaths and marriages published by the Board of Deputies and are based on the number of Orthodox and Progressive circumcisions performed, which are then nearly doubled to produce the overall total.

    But the births are “a conservative estimate”, the Board emphasises, since they exclude non-religious circumcisions, those who are not circumcised at all and circumcisions carried out by Charedi mohalim operating outside the professional circumcision associations.

    In 2011 the number of Jewish marriages was at an all-time low of 808, down from 839 in 2010. Last year, however, there was an increase to 857 — again due to the Charedi effect.

    The average age of a non-Charedi Jewish couple going under the chuppah rose in 2012 to 35 for a groom and 33 for a bride — compared to 33 for grooms and 31 for brides in 2010.

    Jewish couples still marry younger than the country as a whole, where the average age for men is 36 and 34 for women.

    Where both partners were marrying for the first time, the average age for non-Charedi Jews was 30 for the groom and 29 for the bride (compared with 32 and 30 respectively in the UK generally).

    The number of Jewish funerals rose from 2,452 in 2011 to 2,575 last year — although well down on the 4,200 of 20 years ago.

    Although a third of Jewish marriage ceremonies were Charedi in 2012, fewer than one in 20 Jewish funerals were strictly Orthodox.

    THE FACTS

    - Births up

    3,860, the highest number for over 40 years.
    Four in every 10 babies born are Charedi

    - Deaths down

    2,575 funerals, well below the 4,200 in 1992

    - Marriages up (ish)

    857, a small increase on 2011’s all-time low of 808. The average age of brides is now 33, for grooms, it’s 35

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