Israel’s population rises to over 9.3 million on Rosh Hashanah eve

Officials figures show number of people in country grew by 146,000 since last Jewish new year, including 20,000 immigrants

People shop at the Alrov Mamilla Avenue in Jerusalem on August 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
People shop at the Alrov Mamilla Avenue in Jerusalem on August 11, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday that Israel’s population topped 9.3 million this year, growing by 146,000 people from the year before in a rise of 1.6 percent.

There are now 9,391,000 people living in the Jewish state, according to the CBS figures published ahead of Rosh Hashanah, which begins Monday evening. The number is expected to pass 10 million by the end of 2024.

The population comprises more than 6.94 million Jews, or 74%; over 1.98 million Arabs, who account for 21%; and another 466,000 people of other ethnic groups, 5% of the population.

The figures show 172,000 babies were born and there were 48,000 deaths — including around 5,800 from the coronavirus — in the 11.5 (Gregorian calendar) months since Rosh Hashanah last year.

Life expectancy is 80.7 years for Israeli men and 84.8 years for women, the CBS said.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the vast curbs on international travel have had a significant impact on immigration. There were 19,676 immigrants who arrived in Israel during 2020, a dramatic 40.8% drop from 2019 when there were more than 33,000 new arrivals.

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog (2nd-R) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (C) greet Ethiopian immigrants arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on March 11, 2021. (The Jewish Agency)

Moving to Israel was made difficult due to administrative issues and international travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 global crisis, the CBS noted.

Just over half of those who did arrive, 56%, were from the former Soviet Union, mostly Ukraine and Russia. Immigration from France accounted for 12.2% and from the US 11.7%.

However, the first half of 2021 appeared to show something of a recovery. Between January and July 13,000 people immigrated, a 30% increase over the same period in 2020.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, some 3.3 million immigrants have moved to the country.

Religious belief among the Jewish population was another aspect of the country assessed in the CBS data, with 44.8% defining themselves as secular. A further 20.5% defined themselves as traditional but not so religious, and 12.5% saw themselves as traditional-religious. Of the rest, 11.7% said they were religious and 10% said they were ultra-Orthodox.

Jewish men praying for forgivness (Selichot), at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on September 5, 2021, prior to the upcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The CBS numbers came as the Jewish Agency reported there were now 15.2 million Jews worldwide, an increase of 100,000 from the year before.

The Jewish Agency said 8.2 million Jews live outside Israel, most of whom live in the United States, which has around 6 million Jews. In Israel, there are 6.93 million Jews, accounting for 45.3% of world Jewry, according to the research, which was compiled by Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

Following Israel and the US, the countries with the largest number of Jews are France (446,000), Canada (393,500), Britain (292,000), Argentina (175,000), Russia (150,000), Germany (118,000) and Australia (118,000).

The Jewish Agency said there were 27,000 Jews living in Arab and Muslim states, with 14,500 in Turkey, 9,500 in Iran, 2,000 in Morocco and 1,000 in Tunisia.

The statistics are based on self-identification as Jewish and not as any other religion. The Jewish Agency said when looking at those eligible to get citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return, which requires at least one Jewish grandparent, there are 25.3 million Jews worldwide.

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