27 October 2020, 10:56
Russia has 1 mln Jews - FJCR
Moscow, October 27, Interfax - Some one million Jews now live in the country, and only one-fifth of them actively go to synagogues, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FCJR).
“There are reasons to believe that some one million Jews now live in Russia, but only a little more than 200,000 of them are active members of Russia's Jewish communities. We are undoubtedly working on at least doubling this number," FJCR President Alexander Boroda told Interfax.
The Jerusalem Post has recently published a new report by the London Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), according to which the share of Jews in the European population is as small now as it was 1,000 years ago and continues declining. British scientists have calculated that 1.3 million people now call themselves Jews in continental Europe, the UK, Turkey and Russia. This figure has decreased by almost 60% since 1970, when 3.2 million Jews lived in the region.
In the meantime, Boroda believes the tendency towards a reduction of the number of European Jews is legitimate, but controversial. The situations are different and it is hard to compare Russia to France, Germany or the CIS countries, he said. Speaking about the Jews of Western Europe, they reflect both general problems of the European population and specific ethnic problems.
In particular, the rabbi said the decline in the birthrate is now characteristic of economically developed countries. One of the causes of the demographic issue is the loss of traditional family values. "European Jews in this sense are not an exception, I mean secular, not religious families," the source said.
He also said there are specific "Jewish" problems, which are reflected in figures, he said. "It's assimilation, loss of traditions, when the religious component is no longer the deciding factor in the choice of a spouse, and that means that children born in such families no longer identify themselves as belonging to a certain culture," Boroda said.
One of the reasons for the reduction of the number of European Jews is the strong growth of anti-Semitism, for example, very many French Jewish families who treasure their religion have to repatriate to Israel, he said.
In Russia, the situation is somewhat different: the picture is changing following the mass repatriation in the 1990s and the general decline in the birthrate over the past two decades, Boroda said. "On one hand, many young people remember about their roots, and Jewish traditions become an integral part of life to them, even though their parents didn't go to synagogues. Of course, the priorities in such families are totally different: a different approach to family, to childbirth," the rabbi said.
On the other hand, "the assimilation rates are still colossal, there are a lot of mixed marriages, not all Russian Jews go to synagogues and identify themselves as part of the community," he said.
It cannot be said that the Russian Jewish community has overcome all crises associated with the reduction of the number of its members, the FJCR president said. "Cardinal changes to the situation are one of our main tasks. That is one of the reasons why we give special attention to educational and enlightenment programs for young people and young families," Boroda said.