By Matthew Tostevin Reuters
Israel will by next year become home to the largest Jewish community in the world for the first time, surpassing the Jewish population in the United States, a think tank said on Tuesday.
Not for nearly 2,000 years has the Holy Land been home to the globe’s biggest Jewish community.
The report from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute said the Jewish population of Israel was about 5.24 million and of the United States some 5.28 million, but the balance was shifting quickly.
“The Jewish community in Israel is the most vibrant in the world,” said Avinoam Bar-Yosef, director general of the Jerusalem-based JPPPI. “In the U.S., the community has been stagnant by numbers for many years,” he told Reuters.
Although immigration to Israel has dropped, especially since a Palestinian uprising blew up in 2000, the birth rate of Israeli Jews is much higher than abroad — each woman has an average of up to 2.7 children.
There are also fewer marriages between Jews and non-Jews in Israel than in communities abroad.
The last time this region was home to the world’s largest Jewish community was in the 1st century, when the Romans put down a rebellion and much of the Jewish population scattered.
The report from the pro-immigration think tank predicted the Jewish population of Israel would grow to 6.23 million by 2020 from 650,000 when the state was founded in 1948. The world’s Jewish population would grow to 13.5 million from 13 million