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The future of Jews in Europe

The future of Jews in Europe

There is much debate about the future of European Jewry. Some argue that it faces imminent collapse due to antisemitism and/or demographic decline, while others claim that a renaissance is already apparent.

Articles are regularly published in the Jewish media arguing that antisemitism on the continent is rife, and that Jews should leave at the earliest possbile opportunity. Others examine Jewish life in Europe and see clear signs of a new entrepreneurial spirit that matches, or even surpasses, any other part of the Jewish world. Yet others maintain that the clear signs of ageing in Jewish populations across the continent point in only one direction - to their slow but inevitable demise.

The extent to which any one of these hypotheses is correct is critical. There are 1.1 million Jews in Europe, and whilst this constitutes less than ten per cent of the global Jewish population, the continent remains an important centre of contemporary Jewish life. JPR's programme is designed to provide empirical evidence to cut through the various debates, and offer any organisations wishing to support European Jewish community development with the data they need to be optimally successful.

JPR's recent empirical work in this area has included a major survey of European Jewry sponsored by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and a long-term project to explore the development of Jewish life in four east-central European countries since the collpase of communism funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe.

The first of these looked at Jewish perceptions and experiences of antisemitism in nine EU Member States: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and was undertaken in partnership with international polling agency, Ipsos MORI, after JPR won a European Union tender to conduct the survey. This study created the largest dataset on European Jewry that we are aware of, and we have used it subsequently to produce two follow-up reports that focus on antisemitism in the UK and in Italy. The results of the FRA survey also form the basis of one of the most widely-read papers on contemporary European Jewry: "Jewish life in Europe: Impending catastrophe, or imminent renaissance?" written by Dr. Jonathan Boyd.

The FRA data have also been used for JPR presentations at various conferences and seminars, including, most recently, two major presentations to the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Looking ahead, the data are being used as the basis of a forthcoming paper on Jewish attitudes towards anti-Israel sentiment, and a report on patterns in European Jewish identity, both of which we expect to publish in 2016.

Our research work on Jewish life in east-central Europe since the collapse of communism has now ended. It focused on Jewish community development in Poland, Hungary, Germany and Ukraine. All four reports are available in the publications section of this website.

JPR also publishes a monthly digest which pulls together all of the major news stories about Jewish life in Europe, which can be found in the publications section of this website.

29 Jan 2015 - The future of Jews in Europe