Rosh Hashana’s Jewish Demographic Momentum

Straight from the Jerusalem Cloakroom #195, September 22, 2006

1.  Fish – and especially its head – is served on Rosh Hashana as an omen for multiplication.  The annual number of Jewish births in Israel has risen by 34% since 1995: 107,000 annual rate in 2006 compared with 80,400 in 1995.  The robust momentum is primarily derived from increased fertility rate among the one million Olim/immigrants from the former USSR.  They arrived with a typical Russian fertility rate of 1 birth per woman, but are rapidly approaching Israel's secular Jewish rate of 2-3 children per woman.  The annual number of Arab births – within Israel's Green Line – has stabilized during1995 – 2006 at 39,000. Stay tuned to the next Jewish Demographic Momentum in 20 years, when the current babies enter the reproduction cycle.


2. Pomegranate features on Rosh Hashana with its crown (the first two Hebrew letters of the pomegranate spell the word RAM – sublime), its role as one of the seven biblical agro-features of the Land of Israel, its health attributes (anti-cancer, memory enhancing, blood/artery cleanser, etc.), its coronation of the Torah Scroll, of the Temple Menorah and of the High Priest Coat, and its 613 pits, which is the number of Jewish Commandments, as well as another omen for multiplication.

From an 8% and a 33% minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean in 1900 and 1947 respectively, Jews have risen to a solid, long-term 60% majority since the 1960s, and a 67% majority without Gaza.


3.  Sarah and Chana, mothers of Isaac the patriarch and Samuel the prophet, feature on Rosh Hashana as a role model for faith in G-D and an inspiration for barren women.  The fertility Arab-Jewish fertility gap, within the Green Line, has been reduced from six children in the 1960s to one child in 2006 (3.7:2.8). Arab fertility rate has been rapidly westernized – as a function of Arab integration into Israel's economy -  while Jewish fertility rate has crept upward.


4.  There is no demographic machete on the throat of the Jewish State. There is no need for Israel to retreat from Jewish geography (Judea & Samaria) in order to save Jewish demography. In fact, a retreat from that geography would wreck Jewish demography, since it would upset of the balance of migration, which has been the key factor sustaining Jewish majority.  A retreat could produce the immigration of 1-2 million Arabs to J&S, which would fuel economic pressures there, triggering a massive flow of illegal Arab migrants into Israel's Green Line. Any retreat from the mountain ridges of J&S (which constitute the most effective tank obstacle in the region and a dream platform into the sliver along the Mediterranean) entails a potential lethal security threat to the Jewish State. On the other hand, Arab demography is a challenge, but it is not a lethal threat, as evidenced by the Jewish Demographic Momentum.


5.  The aforementioned demographic data constitutes a glimpse of the ground-breaking American-Israeli demographic study, led by Bennett Zimmerman of L.A. (I'm the head of the Israeli contingency), applauded by Dr. Nick Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, a leading US demographer.  The study featured at the recent Herzliya Conference  and was published in February 2006 by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (