NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
“The very continued existence of the Jewish community is in serious question in some countries, owing to acutely irregular sex and age distribution, mixed marriages, low fertility and resultant insufficient reproduction rates,” it was reported here today by two scholars of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem addressing leaders of American Jewish organizations and institutions at the national offices of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.
The two scholars–Professor Moshe Davis, head of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University, and Dr. Roberto Bachi, Professor of Statistics and Demography at the University–presented to the gathering a new study of vital statistics of the Jewish people just completed by the Institute of Contemporary Jewry.
Professor Davis reported on the progress of the Records Center of American Jewish Life and Institutions, established last year at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry with the cooperation of the heads of Jewish organizations in this country. The Records Center is now in communication with 40 national U.S. organizations and agencies. “These is already a steady flow of documentary material on American Jewry which we at the Hebrew University are utilizing in teaching Israeli students about the many aspects of Jewish life here,” he said.
In emphasizing the “indispensability of sound and objective demographic analysis,” Professor Bachi stated that this is important “not only to scholarship generally, but to an understanding of the present trends and prospects of Jewish population growth or decrease in the respective lands of Jewish domicile,” Moreover, Prof. Bachi pointed out, “the study of Jewish demography can make a contribution to demography generally. The Jewish people is resident in many lands and cultures; and it has undergone considerable changes in recent times. Jewish demography illuminates the influence of spiritual, cultural, social and economic changes on demographic processes.
“Another factor which compels the development of Jewish demography on a universal scale results from the research of immigrant groups in Israel. These studies, which have made important strides in recent years, are devoted primarily to the changing characteristics of the immigrant population. Coming from disparate backgrounds, they and their Israeli-born children are undergoing a process of adaptation and acculturation. Basic to a proper evaluation of these changes on the Israeli scene is a knowledge of the demographic conditions of the Jews in their respective lands of origin.” Professor Bachi said.
He envisioned “a long-range program to develop the study of Jewish demography,” and requested the aid of scholars and authorities throughout the world in the furtherance of the program launched by the Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry.