World Jewish Population Nearly 14.5 Million but 80% Unconnected

Jewish youth from Paraguay, pose for a photo, in front the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 29, 2009 after participating in the ''March of the living". Israelis are celebrating Independence Day, marking the 61st anniversary of the creation of the state. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
AP/Bernat Armangue

The world Jewish population stands at 14,410,700, a new report from the Diaspora Affairs ministry said Monday, but added some 80 percent of Jews outside Israel do not feel connected to their Jewish identity.

Israel has the largest Jewish community with 6,740,000, Jews and is followed by North America with 6,088,000.

Europe follows with 1,072,400 Jews, South America has 324,000, Asia has 300,000, Australia and New Zealand have 120,000 and Africa has 74,000, Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch told the Knesset Absorption, Immigration and Diaspora Affairs Committee in her ministry’s annual report to the committee.

Diaspora Affairs Ministry director-general Dvir Kahana told the committee some 80 percent of Jews in the Diaspora don’t feel connected to their Jewishness.

“We are swimming upstream, while most Diaspora Jews are living comfortably,” he said.

Committee chairman David Bitan (Likud) expressed his concern small Jewish communities would not be able to sustain themselves financially.

Finance Minister Israel Katz has committed to allocate NIS 20 million ($5.8) in the annual state budget for such communities. Bitan has also asked the Jewish Agency to match the amount.

“If we don’t strengthen the communities in the Diaspora, there will not be potential immigrants left to bring,” Bitan said.

According to Yankelevitch, the coronavirus pandemic was a test for Israel-Diaspora ties.

“Today, more than ever, Israel must express its obligation to Jews in Israel and the Diaspora and to function as the government of the Jewish people,” she said.

MK Tehila Friedman (Blue and White), a former employee of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, lamented the high cost of Jewish education in the U.S.

“In the US, you have to sell a kidney to send your kids to Jewish schools,” she said. “If Israel will invest in this, it could help bring down assimilation.”

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