Short read

In 2023 we will learn more than ever before about the UK Jewish community

Combining newly released data from the Census, JPR’s recent National Jewish Identity Survey and further research studies that will be carried out this year will give Jewish leaders and policymakers in the UK a new view of the community

Dr Carli Lessof

2023 may turn out to be a pivotal year for research about the UK Jewish community. Several new data sources – some collected only once a decade, others analysed for the first time ever – will provide a rich source of information and insight into current issues and trends in the UK Jewish community. In time, we will be able to combine information from different strands of research to examine multiple aspects of Jewish life in the UK , helping policymakers to better understand changes taking place in the community, the impact of recent events, and highlighting issues that need to be addressed to better serve the community.

This bumper year of data could not have arrived at a better time, as community leaders address multiple issues and the need for high-quality evidence has never been greater.

This bumper year of data could not have arrived at a better time, as community leaders address multiple issues such as the needs of the growing Haredi community, the lasting effects of Covid-19 on synagogues and charities, persistent concerns about antisemitism in the UK and changes in the community’s relationship with Israel. And the need for high-quality evidence has never been greater. In a time of economic stress, it is essential to ensure that the Jewish community has the evidence it needs to address these pressing issues and to support the development of initiatives and strategies to preserve Jewish culture and identity.

How each research study can help create the full picture

By gathering data and insights from censuses, surveys, and government data sources, we will be able to create a better assessment of what the community needs and how we can work together to address these needs:

  • The UK censuses, held in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2021 and Scotland in 2022, take place just once every ten years and provide invaluable insights into the UK’s socioeconomic, cultural and demographic characteristics. Since 2001, the census question on religion has generated unparalleled data about the Jewish community, not least its composition in terms of age, gender, socio-economic circumstances, by geographical area, and how these have changed over the last 20 years. JPR released an initial report based on the first tranche of data released by the ONS and we are now engaged in a process of carefully examining the quality of census data to understand issues such as the extent of any undercount and the effect of shifts in reporting of Jewish identity. Despite these challenges we look forward to making use of this invaluable data source as more data are gradually released over the coming years.
  • JPR's National Jewish Identity Survey is also a once-in-a-decade event. In field in November and December 2022, its results will provide insights into the Jewish community's attitudes, beliefs and practices and will allow us to explore how these have changed since we conducted the last equivalent survey in 2013. The 2022 survey drew responses from over 4,900 British Jews, all members of the JPR Research Panel, making it the largest survey of its kind ever held in the UK. Initial results will be published in a JPR report towards the end of this year and will form the basis of a podcast series that we aim to release at the same time.
  • JPR's Synagogue Membership Survey is held regularly and focuses specifically on affiliation patterns and rates, allowing JPR to estimate denominational changes over time. Comparing its results with the survey carried out in 2016 should present a clearer understanding of how Covid-19, among other issues, has affected synagogues and their members.
  • JPR’s upcoming Antisemitism in the UK Survey is being run in parallel to a pan-European survey undertaken by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) every five years, to inform policy to combat antisemitism across Europe. Although the UK is no longer part of the EU (as it was when the survey was last held in 2018), we are running the 2023 survey in the UK using our panel, enabling policymakers to compare the situation in the UK today to previous years, as well as to other European countries. Whether or not you have experienced antisemitism, it is vital that you make your voice heard in this and other JPR surveys by joining our panel.

A better, deeper understanding of the Jewish community

By this time next year, we will know more about our community than, perhaps, ever before, not only due to the amount of new data we will have gathered but also due to its depth. All of the data sources we access or create will be examined to deliver insights about the challenges faced by the Jewish community, while providing leaders with the data they need to address communal needs. We are focused on providing data to inform discussion of numerous questions, including how recent developments in Israel might affect Jewish life here, how to better address the growing concerns many Jews feel about antisemitism, and how to enhance the depth and quality of Jewish communal life following the volatility caused by the pandemic.

These are big questions and it will take time and research effort to dig into the data to provide answers. The JPR team is ready to tackle this work and will continue to make all our research available on our website and free to download. However, this is a mission the entire community must take part in, from the most respected and experienced policymakers guiding our community, through to the numerous individuals working on the ground to enhance Jewish life in myriad ways. Everyone has a part to play, whether by joining our panel to express your views, sharing our findings with others, engaging with us to share your thoughts and ideas, or supporting us by helping to fund our work. JPR functions at its best when you get involved, and what we learn this year will help shape the next decade.

Our reports are free to download.

However, they are not free to produce, and as a registered charity, JPR relies on the generosity of donors to undertake its work. Please consider making a donation to help cover the costs of this particular report or to support JPR’s work more generally.

Donate here
Images of people

Dr Carli Lessof

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Carli Lessof

Senior Research Fellow

Carli is a Senior Research Fellow at JPR, responsible for JPR’s community statistics programme, online research panel, and monitoring and evaluation. She completed her PhD...

Read more

You might also like: