Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jews Move ...

I gave a briefing the other day on the Jewish world and how it has changed in the last twenty years.

One of the most interesting aspects of this change has been the dynamic focus of Jewish migration.

Jews are a migratory people. In fact, for the last 150 years or so, you can see a clear trend of Jewish migration, every 20 or 30 years. But what we’ve seen in the last 20 years is a massive exponential growth in global Jewish migration.

So much so, in fact, that Jews are now the most migratory people in the world.
One quarter of Jews in the world today live in a country other than the one in which they were born.

Think about that for a moment and what it represents.
Change, diversity, opportunity. Risks, challenges, new horizons.
All of this is happening right now.

And this means that the vast majority of Jews today live in a very small number of places. Since the early 1990s, one of the most interesting trends of Jewish life has been consolidation.

Most of us live in a very small number of countries. The vast majority of us (some three-quarters) live in just the US and Israel.

And there's a positive side to this contraction, in that Jews have moved and are moving to wealthier, more stable, more accepting societies. They're moving away from dangerous and under-developed places to “better” homes.
There's also a negative side, because we’re going to lose a lot of history and culture.

But what really fascinates me is that when we talk about consolidation, we’re looking not only at what's happening between countries but also inside them.
Urbanization is a critical component of this contraction, of this consolidation.
We’re becoming an increasingly urbanized people. 80% of the world’s Jews live in only 24 cities. That’s the twenty-first century Jewish migration. And 52% of us live in only five cities … Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, New York and Los Angeles.

By the way, the equivalent percentage for the world’s population as a whole is something like 50%. In other words, whereas something like 90% of Jews live in cities of a million people or more, only 50% of the world’s population live in big cities.

And as we move to the big cities, to the stable countries, the nature of Jewish life is going to change dramatically …

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