|263,346 (2011 Census)
292,000 (2010 estimate by the Jewish Virtual Library)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Greater London, South Hertfordshire, south-west Essex, Greater Manchester, Gateshead, Leeds, Greater Glasgow|
|Primarily English; also Hebrew, historically Spanish and Portuguese among Sephardim, Yiddish primarily among Haredi Jews, Amharic among Beta Israel, Arabic among Yemeni Jews, Marathi among Bene Israel, Russian among Ashkenazim|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Part of a series on|
|Jews and Judaism|
British Jews (often referred to collectively as Anglo-Jewry) are British people of Jewish descent and ethnicity who maintain a connection to the Jewish community, either through actively practising Judaism or through cultural and historical affiliation. The UK is home to the second largest Jewish population in Europe, and has the fifth largest Jewish community worldwide. The number of identifying Jews in England and Wales has risen slightly over the past decade, indicating a stability which contrasts with the usual impression of relentless diaspora decline. The growth is largely due to the rapid growth of the Charedi community.
The first recorded Jewish community in Britain was brought to England in 1070 by King William the Conqueror, who believed that what he assumed to be their commercial skills would make his newly won country more prosperous. Two hundred years later the Jews were no longer welcome. On 16 March 1190 in the run up to the 3rd Crusade the Jewish population of York was massacred at the site where Clifford's Tower now stands, and King Edward I of England passed the Statute of the Jewry (Statutum de Judaismo) in 1275, restricting the community's activities, most notably outlawing the practice of usury (charging interest). When, 15 years later, Edward found that many of these provisions were ignored, he expelled the Jews from England. They emigrated to countries such as Poland which protected them by law. A small English community persisted in hiding despite the expulsion. Jews were not banned from Scotland, which until 1707 was an independent kingdom.
In 1656 Oliver Cromwell made it clear that the ban on Jewish settlement in England and Wales would no longer be enforced, although when Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel brought a petition to allow Jews to return, the majority of the Protectorate Government turned it down. Gradually Jews eased back into England, first visiting for trade, then staying longer periods, and finally bringing their families. In mid-nineteenth century Ireland, then ruled by the British, Daniel O'Connell, known as "The Liberator" for his work on Catholic Emancipation, worked successfully for the repeal of the "De Judaismo" law, which prescribed a special yellow badge for Jews. Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881), of Jewish birth although he joined the Church of England, served in government for three decades, twice as prime minister.
In 2006, the Jewish community celebrated the 350th anniversary of the resettlement in England.
|Historical British Jewish population|
According to the 2011 census, 263,346 people answered “Jewish” to the voluntary question on religion, compared with 259,927 in the previous count of 2001. However, this final figure is considered an undercount. Demographers David Graham and Stanley Waterman give several reasons: the underenumeration for censuses in general; the question did not record secular Jews; the voluntary nature of the question; suspicion by Jews of such questions; and the high non-response rate for large numbers of Haredi Jews. By comparison, the Jewish Virtual Library estimated a Jewish population of 291,000 (not limited to adherents of Judaism) in 2012, making Britain's Jewish community the fifth largest in the world.
The 2001 Census included a (voluntary) religion question ("What is your religion?") for the first time in its history;[n 1] 266,740 people listed their religion as "Jewish". However, the subject of who is a Jew is complex, and the religion question did not record people who may be Jewish through other means, such as ethnically and culturally. Ninety-seven percent of people who chose Jewish as their religion put White as their ethnic group; however, a report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) suggests that, although there was an apparent option to write down "Jewish" for this question, it did not occur to many, because of "skin colour" and nationality bias; and that if "Jewish" was an explicit option, the results—only 2594 respondents were Jewish solely by ethnicity—would have been different. The religion question appeared in the 2011 Census, but there was still no explicit option for "Jewish" in the ethnic-group question. The Board of Deputies had encouraged all Jews to indicate they were Jewish, either through the religion question or the ethnicity one.
From 1990 to 2006, the Jewish population showed a decrease from 340,000 Jews to 270,000. According to the 1996 Jewish Policy Review, nearly one in two are marrying people who do not share their faith. From 2005 to 2008, the Jewish population increased from 275,000 to 280,000, attributed largely to the high birth rates of Haredi (or ultra-Orthodox) Jews. Research by the University of Manchester in 2007 showed that 75 percent of British Jewish births were to the Haredi community. Ultra-Orthodox women have an average of 6.9 children, and secular Jewish women 1.65.
About two-thirds of the UK's Jews live in Greater London or contiguous parts of South Hertfordshire and south-west Essex. Substantial communities outside the London area include Greater Manchester, home to some 30,000 Jews, and Leeds, although the Leeds Jewish community became smaller in the late 20th century. Other substantial communities include Gateshead, Glasgow and Liverpool, as well as other former industrial cities. Barnet and Hertsmere councils in the London borders polled as the first and second most Jewish local authorities in England, with Jews composing one in five and nine residents respectively.
The British Jewish population has a substantially older profile than that of the general population. In England and Wales, the median age of male Jews is 41.2, while the figure for all males is 36.1; Jewish females have a median age of 44.3, while the figure for all females is 38.1. A high proportion (83.2 percent) of Jews in England and Wales were born in the UK. About 24 percent of the community are over the age of 65 (compared to 16 percent of the general population of England and Wales). In the 2001 census Jews were the only group in which the number of persons in the 75-plus cohorts outnumbered those in the 65–74 cohort.
In 2013 it has been reported that due to anti-semitic attacks in France upon Jews, this has led to an exodus of French Jews who have moved across to the UK. This has resulted in some synagogues establishing French-language Shabbat services to fulfill a growing demand.
There are some 409 synagogues in the country, and it is estimated that 74 percent of the country's Jews are affiliated with one. Of those affiliated, the affiliations are distributed across the following groupings:
- Central Orthodox ("consisting of the United Synagogue, the Federation of Synagogues and independent Orthodox synagogues") – 54.7%
- Reform (Movement for Reform Judaism and Westminster Synagogue and Chaim V’Tikvah) – 19.4%
- Strictly Orthodox ("synagogues aligned with the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations and others of a similar ethos") – 10.9%
- Liberal (Liberal Judaism and Belsize Square Synagogue) – 8.7%
- Sephardi – 3.5%
- Masorti (Assembly of Masorti Synagogues) – 2.7%
British Jewish communal organisations include:
- Board of Deputies - founded in 1760, represents the community at a national and international level. All synagogues and communal organisations are entitled to elect deputies to the Board.
- Scottish Council of Jewish Communities - the representative body of all of the Jewish communities in Scotland.
- Jewish Leadership Council - comprises the chairpeople of the major organisations in each sector of communal life, together with key individual leaders of the community.
- Campaign Against Antisemitism - charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law.
- Community Security Trust - works to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Britain.
- Union of Jewish Students - supports Jewish students at university.
- London Jewish Forum.
- Movement for Reform Judaism - Formerly known as the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, It is the main organisational body of Reform Judaism throughout Great Britain.
- Jewish Human Rights Watch - opposes antisemitism linked to political discourse about Israel.
About 60 percent of school-age Jewish children attend Jewish schools. Jewish day schools and yeshivas are found throughout the country. Jewish cultural studies and Hebrew language instruction is commonly offered at synagogues in the form of supplementary Hebrew schools or Sunday schools. The majority of Jewish schools in Britain are funded by the government. Jewish educational centres are plentiful, large-scale projects. One of the country's most famous Jewish schools is the state-funded JFS in London which opened in 1732 and has about 2100 students. It is heavily over-subscribed and applies strict rules on admissions, which led to a discrimination court case, R (E) v Governing Body of JFS, in 2009. In 2011, another large government funded school opened in North London named JCoSS, the first cross-denomination Jewish secondary school in the UK.
British Jews generally have high levels of educational achievement. Compared to the general population, they are 40 percent less likely to have no qualifications, and 80 percent more likely to have "higher-level" qualifications. With the exception of under-25s, younger Jews tend to be better educated than older ones.
Politically, Jews in the U.K. tend to lean conservative, as a poll published by the Jewish Chronicle in early 2015 shows. Of British Jews polled, 69% would vote for the Conservative Party, while 22% would vote for the Labour Party. There was little Jewish support for UKIP or the Liberal Democrats, with each polling around 2%. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the voter population, which according to a BBC poll had Conservatives and Labour almost tied at about a third each. Jews have typically been a part of the British middle class, traditional home of the Conservative Party, though the number of Jews in working class communities of London is in decline. The main voting bloc of poorer Jews in Britain now, made up primarily of ultra-Orthodox, votes "en masse" for the Conservatives. Attitudes toward Israel influence the vote of three out of four of British Jews.
|Jewish MP's by Election
|Election||Labour||Conservative||Liberal/Alliance||Other||Total No.||% of Parliament|
The 2001 Census showed that 30.5 percent of economically active Jews were self-employed, compared to a figure of 14.2 percent for the general population. Jews aged 16–24 were more likely to be economically inactive than their counterparts in the general population; 89.2 percent of these were students.
There are a number of Jewish newspapers, magazines and other media published in Britain on a national level and on more regional levels. The most famous of these is The Jewish Chronicle, which was founded in 1841 and is the world's oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper. Other media include the Jewish News, Jewish Telegraph, Hamodia and the Jewish Tribune.
Antisemitism in the United Kingdom originated with the arrival of Jews in the country soon after the Norman Conquest. The earliest Jewish settlement was recorded in 1070. Jews living in the United Kingdom at this time experienced religious discrimination and it is thought that the blood libel which accused Jews of ritual murder originated in Northern England, leading to massacres and increasing discrimination. The Jewish presence continued until King Edward I's Edict of Expulsion in 1290.
Jews were readmitted to the United Kingdom by Oliver Cromwell in 1655, though it is believed that crypto-Jews lived in England during the expulsion. Jews were regularly subjected to discrimination and humiliation which waxed and waned over the centuries, gradually declining as Jews made commercial, philanthropic and sporting contributions to the country.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the number of Jews in Britain greatly increased due to the exodus of Jews from Russia, which resulted in a large community of Jews forming in the East End of London. Popular sentiment against immigration was used by the British Union of Fascists to incite hatred against Jews, leading to the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, at which the fascists were repulsed by Jews, Irish people and Communists, who barricaded the streets.
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, undisguised, racial hatred of Jews became unacceptable in British society. Outbursts of antisemitism emanating from far right groups continued however, leading to the formation of the 43 Group led by Jewish ex-servicemen which broke up fascist meetings. Far-right antisemitism was motivated principally by racial hatred, rather than theological hatred which accused Jews of killing Christ.
Contemporary antisemitism in Britain has become more complex and multifaceted, evolving its own vocabulary and imagery. It is perpetrated principally by the far-left, far-right and Islamists, whose distinct forms of antisemitism have gradually merged with one another.
Records of antisemitic incidents began to be compiled in 1984, however reporting practices have changed considerably since records began, as have levels of reporting.
- List of British Jews
- History of the Jews in England
- History of the Jews in Scotland
- History of the Jews in Ireland
Notes and references
- "The Jewish Population of the World (2010)". Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Design, SUMO. "The 1190 Massacre: History of York".
- Prestwich, Michael. Edward I p 345 (1997) Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07157-4.
- "History", Jewish Ireland.
- "EJP looks back on 350 years of history of Jews in the UK", On Anglo Jewry (in‐depth article), European Jewish Press, 30 October 2005, retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Institute for Jewish Policy Research (2011) Key trends in the British Jewish community: A review of data on poverty, the elderly and children, p.11
- "Waterman and Kosmin, (1986) British Jewry in the Eighties. A Statistical and Geographical Study, p.6".
- Graham, David; Waterman, Stanley. "Underenumeration of the Jewish Population in the UK 2001 Census" (subscription required). Population, Space and Place 12 (2): 89–102. March/April 2005. doi:10.1002/psp.362.
- Graham & Schmool Waterman, p. 18.
- Graham & Schmool Waterman, p. 3.
- Graham & Schmool Waterman, pp. 12–13.
- Graham & Schmool Waterman, pp. 20–21.
- "Census 2011". Board of Deputies of British Jews. Accessed 10 August 2011.
- "Is this the last generation of British Jews?", The Telegraph, UK, November 26, 2006.
- Pigott, Robert. "Jewish population on the increase". BBC News. 21 May 2008. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- "Majority of Jews will be Ultra-Orthodox by 2050". University of Manchester. 23 July 2007. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Butt, Riazat. "British Jewish population on the rise". The Guardian. 21 May 2008. Accessed 10 August 2011.
- choose Leeds? - Institute for Jewish Policy Research
- Graham & Schmool Waterman, p. 5.
- "Exodus to the UK as French Jews escape antisemitism". Jewish Chronicle. February 21, 2013. Accessed January 23, 2014.
- Graham & Vulkan 2010, p. 9.
- Graham & Vulkan 2010, pp. 12–13. Other affiliations were not considered in the JPR report.
- "The Future of Jewish Schools", p. 7.
- "Jewish school admissions unlawful". BBC News. 25 June 2009. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Kessler, Sarah. "A Cross-Denominational Approach to High School in the U.K.". The Forward. 21 January 2009. Accessed 3 April 2011. Archived 2 April 2011.
- "About Us". Union of Jewish Students. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Graham, Schmool & Waterman 2007, p. 79.
- Graham, Schmool & Waterman 2007, pp. 79–80.
- Gringras, Robbie. "Writing the Limmud theme song ". Haaretz. 8 January 2010. Accessed 1 April 2011. Archived 1 April 2011.
- Huge majority of British Jews will vote Tory, JC poll reveals The JC.com, 7 April 2015
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- Graham, Schmool & Waterman 2007, p. 87.
- "The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry, 1841–1991". Cambridge University Press. Accessed 3 April 2011.
- PDF (430 KB). All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism. September 2006. Accessed 1 April 2011. Archived 24 November 2010. See inquiry website.
- PDF (995 KB). Jewish Leadership Council. 2008. Accessed 4 April 2011.
- Graham, David; Schmool, Marlena; Waterman, Stanley (18 May 2007), Jews in Britain: A Snapshot from the 2001 Census, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011, retrieved 22 July 2011, 4.93 MiB. See webpage.
- Graham, David; Vulkan, Daniel (13 May 2010), Synagogue membership in the United Kingdom in 2010, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011, retrieved 3 April 2011, 2.68 MiB. See webpage.
- Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1999/2000. Stephen Roth Institute. Distributed by the University of Nebraska Press. pp. 125–135.
- Cesarani, David (1994). The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry, 1841–1991. Cambridge University Press.
- Cesarani, David. "British Jews". Liedtke, Rainer; Wendehorst, Stephan. (eds) (1999). The Emancipation of Catholics, Jews and Protestants: Minorities and the Nation State in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Manchester University Press. pp. 33–55.
- Endelman, Todd M. (2002). The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000. University of California Press.
- Spector, Sheila A. (ed) (2002). British Romanticism and the Jews: History, Culture, Literature. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Valins, Oliver; Kosmin, Barry; Goldberg, Jacqueline. "The future of Jewish schooling in the United Kingdom". Institute for Jewish Policy Research. 31 December 2002. Accessed 4 April 2011.
- London, Louise (2003). Whitehall and the Jews, 1933–1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press.
- Schreiber, Mordecai; Schiff, Alvin I.; Klenicki, Leon. (2003). The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia (3rd edition). Schreiber Publishing. pp. 79–80.
- Wynne-Jones, Jonathan; additional reporting by Jeffay, Nathan. "Is this the last generation of British Jews?". The Daily Telegraph. 26 November 2006. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Shindler, Colin. "The Reflection of Israel Within British Jewry". Ben-Moshe, Danny; Segev, Zohar (eds) (2007). Israel, the Diaspora, and Jewish Identity. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 227–234.
- Butt, Riazat. "Faith in numbers". The Guardian. 20 November 2007. Accessed 4 April 2011.
- Lawless, Jill. "London's Jewish Museum reopens after major facelift". Associated Press via USA Today. 17 March 2010. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- Graham, David; Boyd, Jonathan. PDF (1.64 MB). Institute for Jewish Policy Research. 15 July 2010. Accessed 4 April 2011. Archived 22 July 2011. See webpage.
- Brown, Mick. "Inside the private world of London's ultra-Orthodox Jews". The Daily Telegraph. 25 February 2011. Accessed 1 April 2011.
- "Publications on British Jews from the Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner".
- Anglo-Jewish Archives. University of Southampton