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Christian Israeli community growing slowly, besting Jews in matriculation grades

In Christmas report, Central Bureau of Statistics says there are 177,000 Christians in the country, 77.5% of whom are Arabs; over 70% achieve college-entry matriculation grades

A man dressed as Santa Claus rides a camel at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, during Christmas tree distribution and a few days before the upcoming holiday of Christmas, December 19, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man dressed as Santa Claus rides a camel at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, during Christmas tree distribution and a few days before the upcoming holiday of Christmas, December 19, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While Christians remain a small minority in Israel, their numbers are growing slowly and their educational achievements rival those of the majority Jewish population, figures released this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics reveal.

Some 177,000 Christians live in Israel, or roughly 2 percent of the population, according to the CBS data, released in honor of the Christmas holiday on Wednesday.

Of those, some 77.5% are Arabs, making up some 7.2% of Israel’s Arab community.

Most of the Arab Christians, 70.6% of them, live in the Galilee and in northern cities.

The largest Christian community in the country resides, not coincidentally, in Jesus’s childhood hometown of Nazareth, where some 21,900 Christians live alongside an estimated 55,000 Muslim residents.

Illustrative: Arab Christians take part in a Christmas Parade in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2018. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

The next-largest Christian community, numbering 16,100 according to official figures, is in the northern metropolis of Haifa, followed by Jerusalem (12,700) and Shfaram (10,300).

Christians have the lowest birthrates among Israel’s religious communities, at just 1.87 children per household. Compare that to Jewish households at 2.3 or Muslim ones at 2.7. The community is thus growing slowly, by just 1.5% last year, and 2.2% the year before.

Israel’s Christian community is striking for its educational achievement, especially among women, official figures reveal.

Fully 70.9% of Christian high schoolers achieve college-entry matriculation grades, slightly higher than Jews (70.6%), and higher still than Druze (63.7%) and Muslims (45.2%).

Three out of four Christian masters degree students, or 74%, are women, as are 63% of Christian doctoral students.

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