David Graham, one of the report's authors and research consultant to the Board of Deputies of British Jews: “Overall, intermarriage, more accurately Jew-to-non-Jew partnerships, is still relatively uncommon. But certain groups, especially cohabitees, show clear signs that strongly suggest change is on the way.”
LONDON (EJP)---A new report demolishes several popular “myths and stereotypes” describing British Jews as prosperous, successful, and homogenous, living in a few boroughs in London and Manchester.
The Report, entitled “Jews in Britain: A Snapshot from the 2001 Census’’ was published on Friday by the Jewish Policy Research (JPR), a London-based think tank working for an inclusive Europe.
The report’s authors said that the study had “revolutionised” their understanding of British Jewry.
Antony Lerman, JPR's director, said: ‘We were aware of the diversity of forms of Jewish identity and opinion, but had little idea of the extent of diversity in households, geographical spread, ethnicity, country of birth, housing, mobility, health, education and employment.
He added that the report “destroys the illusion of Jewish uniformity.”
270,499 people in the UK identified themselves as Jewish and revealed themselves to be strikingly heterogeneous: not a single “Jewish community”, but a “collection of multiple subgroups defined in myriad ways.’’
This diversity is a constant theme in almost every feature of the Jewish population.
The study reveals that there are many types of “Jewish household.”
More Jews than almost any other religious or ethnic group live in single-person households.
This fact, together with the large number of “Jewish households” in which not all members are actually Jewish, forces a rethink of the nature and boundaries of what is called the “Jewish community.”
The reports adds that one of the most surprising features revealed by the 2001 Census is the geographical spread of Jews throughout the country.
“Jews live in every county and district in Great Britain. The identification of around 20,000 Jews in areas that were regarded as containing very few—for example, Northumbria, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Warwickshire—and where there are no formal communal facilities, is an issue that policymakers will need to take seriously,” the reports writes.
British Jews are an ageing group, but the data point to a young, rapidly growing community of strictly Orthodox Jews “who are bucking the trend in a remarkable way.”
The JPR says that the demographic makeup of British Jewry, and probably its religious structure, “will be very different in a generation or so.”
Jews are no longer mostly an ‘immigrant group’, but even in 2001, nearly 1 in 5 Jews in England and Wales were born outside the British Isles and hailed from almost every other region of the world.
The three largest groups were those born in Israel, the United States and South Africa.
‘As a group, Jews showed high levels of educational attainment far outranking the national population and all other subgroups,” the report says.
It adds: “Jewish women were not only outperforming women in the general population at the highest levels but they were also outperforming men nationally. This dramatic finding reinforces previous studies and is a tribute to the remarkable success of Jewish women in the workplace.”
A striking feature of the report is the complex nature of Jewish partnerships.
The traditional notion of the nuclear “Jewish family” is increasingly inaccurate, according to the report.
More appropriate is to speak of the “Jewish household” and its growing diversity: more younger Jews live alone, more couples live together without children and outside marriage, more households contain a mixture of Jewish and non-Jewish members.
“And the picture is further complicated by the numbers of people who are divorced, separated or remarried,” the report says.
Although the Census did not report an intermarriage rate, the analysis did reveal that 72% of married or cohabiting Jews had a Jewish partner; 19% had a non-Jewish partner.
However, for those who were cohabiting, 68% of all Jewish individuals had a partner who was either not Jewish or had no religion. (Those cohabiting were a tenth of those who were married.)
David Graham, one of the authors and research consultant to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, commented: “Overall, intermarriage, more accurately Jew-to-non-Jew partnerships, is still relatively uncommon. But certain groups, especially cohabitees, show clear signs that strongly suggest change is on the way.”
The Jewish population enjoyed high living standards, but this was not uniform and significant social inequality was evident.
77% of Jewish households owned their own homes, compared with 69% in the general population, but only 38% in Hackney did so.
More than a third of Jewish households in Hackney lived in social rented accommodation, a clear indicator of low levels of affluence, and proportionally 25 times more than in Hertsmere.
75% of Jews aged 25 years and older were economically active, but 47% in Hackney were economically inactive.
Comparing occupations of Jews in two locations: 38% were managers and senior officials in Westminster, 18% in Redbridge; 8% and 23% respectively were in administrative and secretarial occupations; and 1% and 11% worked as process, plant and machine operatives.
The report highlights the fact that many Jews in Britain see themselves in ethnic or cultural terms. Many thousands chose to describe their ethnicity as Jewish, despite the approach of the Census to ethnicity which is based on appearance and nationality.
A sizeable number preferred to describe their background or “upbringing”, rather than their current religion, as Jewish.
Those who self-identified as “Jews by ethnicity” were younger, more highly qualified and more likely to be male, the reports says.