Haredi men gather at funeral in Ashdod, 2018
Haredi men gather at funeral in Ashdod, 2018 Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Roughly one in every seven Jews worldwide is affiliated with the haredi sector, according to a new study released Wednesday morning.

A report released by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research estimates that out of a global Jewish population of 15.166 million, some 2,077,000 – or 14% - were from the haredi community, as of the end of 2020.

The IJPR report draws on a variety of sources to estimate the size of each haredi population in various countries around the world, including demographic studies in Israel and data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics; surveys from the Pew Research Center estimating the number of Jewish households and the percentage of households affiliated with the haredi sector - along with estimates by demographers Gilad Malach and Yair Ettinger; estimates of synagogue membership in extrapolated to total population size; and data collected by various regional Jewish federations and local organizations.

There are an estimated 1.2 million haredim in Israel, making up 17% of the country’s 6.9 million Jews. The second largest haredi community is in the US, with roughly 700,000 haredim, making up 12% of the approximately 6 million American Jews.

The third largest haredi community is in the UK, numbering 76,000, or 26% of the 292,000 Jews in Britain.

Canada, Argentina, France, and Belgium followed with 30,000, 13,500, 12,000, and 10,000 haredim respectively, out of total Jewish populations of 393,500, 175,000, 446,000, and 28,900.

South Africa’s haredi population also numbers 10,000, out of a total Jewish population of 52,000, following by Mexico and Australia with roughly 7,500 haredi each; Switzerland with 3,300; Germany with 3,000, Austria with 2,000, and 3,000 in various smaller communities around the globe.

The Jewish community in Belgium has the highest proportion of haredim of any large community in the world at 35%, followed by the UK at 26%, with South Africa, Mexico, and Austria tied at 19%. Eighteen percent of Swiss Jews are haredi, followed by 17% of Israeli Jews and 12% of American Jews. Canada and Argentina are tied at 8%, followed by Australia at 6%, France at 3%, and Germany at 2%.

The haredi population has a significantly higher growth rate than the Jewish population as a whole worldwide, with an annual growth rate of between 3.5% to 4.0%, compared to just 0.7% for the Jewish population as a whole. The report estimates that as much as 80% of the growth rate of the global Jewish population is attributable to the haredi sector.

Based on these estimates, the haredi population worldwide is expected to double every 18 to 20 years; while the non-haredi population, growing at just 0.2% annually, would take 350 years to double in size.

“The rapid growth of the haredi population is changing the nature of the Jewish world,” said IJPR executive director Dr. Jonathan Boyd. “It has significant implications for how Jewishness is understood and seen going forward, both by Jews and others, and it has to be understood fully to ensure that the needs of the growing haredi community are met in terms of housing, education and other community services. Community leaders need to pay much more attention to these demographic dynamics, and start preparing for what is likely to be a very different future.”

Should these trends continue, the haredi population is projected to make up nearly a quarter (23%) of the total worldwide Jewish population in 2040, up from 14% in 2020.

The authors of the report included in their projection an estimate, based on studies of haredi populations in Israel and the UK, that roughly 20% of Jews born to haredi families identify as non-haredi in adulthood.

“Religious ‘switching’ among haredi Jews has been quite well documented and the trend is not powerful enough to change the conclusions regarding haredi growth over the next twenty years or so,” the authors wrote.

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