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Why European Jewish Demography? A foundation paper

Author(s): Daniel Staetsky, Sergio DellaPergola
Date: 09 July 2019

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This paper is the first output of the new European Jewish Demography Unit, set up by JPR in January 2019 with the generous support of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, to undertake demographic research about Jewish populations across Europe.

Demography provides answers to questions such as how many Jews exist in the world? Or in Europe? Or in any particular country of Europe? And where will European Jewry go from here?

The objective of the Unit is to create demographic profiles of European Jewish populations at a country level, documenting their size, structure, composition, patterns of Jewish identity, factors of growth and decline and past and projected trajectories over time. The foundational paper demonstrates the practical sides and uses of demography, with the focus on its use by the Jewish community.

The paper is written in three parts. Part 1 describes what Jewish demography is, as a subject area, and its purpose and value, with specific reference to Jews in Europe. Part 2 explores some of the critiques of demography from the past and present and responds to these by outlining how the data should be used and have been used for highly constructive purposes. Part 3 outlines what the European Jewish Demography Unit will do, and the methods and approach it will take.