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29 Mar, 2013 18:31

Israeli Jewish population hits record, outgrows US

Israeli Jewish population hits record, outgrows US

The Jewish population in Israel has hit a record 6 million making the country the world`s biggest Jewish center, the recent census revealed. Israel displaced the US, which until recently held first place with its 5.5 million Jewish residents.

France and Canada occupy the third and the fourth places respectively with 500 thousand and 380 thousand Jews.

While the global Jewish population has reached 13.8 million, it is only in Israel where the numbers have grown, said Professor Sergio Della Pergola, a Jewish demographics specialist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

"Israel has indeed experienced a growth in the number of Jews last year, but world Jewry outside Israel did not fare so well," he told an Israeli newspaper. "On the contrary, world Jewry has experienced negative growth."

Within the country most Israelis are attracted to metropolitan Tel Aviv, but government programs, including better transportation, are trying to encourage Jewish people to settle in the Negev and  Galilee.

At least half a million Israeli Jews are now residing abroad for work, study or travels.

The census conducted by Israel's interior ministry also revealed that the non-Jewish minority consists of 1.6 million Arabs, 350,000 non-Arab Christians and a third group, mostly immigrants from the former Soviet Union.