BROOKLYN, NY — The world Jewish population climbed by 200,000 over the past year, says a Jerusalem-based think thank. That brings it in total to 13.2 million. But those who read on in the report quickly put away the party blowers: The projections for population growth are much more sobering.
Jewish People Policy Planning Institute reported that Jewish women in their 30s in the U.S. had about 1.2 children, while the general U.S. population checked in with 1.8 children. A fraction of a child doesn’t seem like much until it is viewed in future tense.
“The result is Jewish families with fewer children than the minimum necessary to maintain group size,” said the JPPPI in its annual report released last week.
With the right mix of socioeconomic incentives and societal support, the group offered, higher birth rates would result.
Unwilling to wait for acts of Congress to up the Jewish birthrate, Chabad representatives have been celebrating the joys of bringing Jewish children into the world, and their community members have followed.
With two little girls, a loving husband, a dog and a Volvo, Roberta Rosenthal thought her family was complete. Then she started attending Shabbat services at her local Chabad center.
As she and her husband took on a more observant lifestyle, the family grew. And grew. By pregnancy number five, “everyone thought I was crazy,” Roberta says. Even she began to question her own sanity. “I wasn’t brought up with this kind of life. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, myself.”
She remembers the counsel from Rabbi Josh Gordon, Executive Director of Chabad of the Valley, like it was yesterday. “You’ll see,” he said. “This baby will be the joy of your life.”