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Report from the demographer

There is an interesting report in Haaretz that notes as follows:

In the past year, the number of diaspora Jews shrank by 100,000, while Israel’s Jewish population rose by 300,000. Israel is now the home of 41% of world Jewry.

There are only 13.2 million Jews in the world.  Interestingly enough, about 2000 years ago, there were only about 10 million Jews in the world.  There are two reasons for the stagnation.  One is assimilation and the other is persecution.  Today we feel the impact of both (on the basis that victimisation ultimately leads to persecution). 

Locally there are only 100,000 in Australia, and about 8,000 in Perth.   

Leaving aside the Jewish population profile, and looking for a moment at the profile of Perth, there are some interesting predictions about what will happen to our fair city.  Prof Weller from the University of Western Australia writes as follows:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that the current population of Perth, (1,497,480) will double by 2050. This not only means that 651,078 new homes will need to be built but also the entire infrastructure of the city will have to double. What was built in 178 years will need to be reproduced in 43. This is daunting, and yet no one is talking about it. Everyone is too busy. The city is booming!

Jewgle asks; If the population of Perth doubles in the next 40 years, will the Jewish population of Perth also double in the next 40 years?  Based on the local marriage and birthrate that is not very likely.  Over the past five years the Jewish birth rate has barely averaged one per week, and many of those families emigrate.

The rate of Jewish immigration to Perth has also slowed.  This is due to housing affordability, and economic opportunities.  Perth is a great lifestyle option, it is good for family living.  But it is not the most attractive destination for executive jobs, wealth creation through business development, and its isolation does not assist with export opportunities in markets other than primary resources. 

It is comforting to know that it is the quality and not the quantity of Jewish people that count for the strength of a Jewish community.  In that respect, Perth is not lacking.  However there is not room for complacency, nor natural progression.

Where is the public contribution of the Jewish community to issues such as Perth’s future growth.  How can we work with the Town Planners, Government agencies, academic thinkers, and future leaders to put Jewish community development into the design of Perth in 2050?  How can we set up the right mix of concentrated and affordable housing, communal facilities, and engage in large scale asset management so that in thirty years time the Jewish community here will be provided with sustainable infrastructure?

Jewish Perth needs to do more than measure its demographic profile, and it needs to do more than put its spokepeople in the public domain to combat anti-Semitism and defend Israel.  It needs to put together a new vision, and engage its civic leaders to commit towards the Jewish communities role and physical surrounds in a multicultural City.

Prof Weller is right when he says that nobody is talking about planned growth.  We could well echo that sentiment on the part of the Jewish community.  Nobody in the community is seriously talking about building a structured future.  It may happen by default, but it is far better and more fulfilling if it happens by design.

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