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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 several follow-up reports that focus on antisemitism in the UKItaly and Sweden. 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 in Europe and around the world, including, most recently, two major presentations to the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Looking ahead, the data will be used to assess trends over time, as the FRA prepares to launch a follow-up study in late 2017/2018.

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

Among JPR's other recent work on Europe includes a study, authored by Senior Research Fellow Dr Daniel Staetsky, on the migration patterns of Jews from several European countires to Israel (Are Jews leaving Europe?), and an analysis of the perceptions, experiences and behaviours of Jews in relation to hate crime, analysed by gender, age and religiosity, undertaken for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and available upon request..

29 Jan 2015 - The future of Jews in Europe