the Jewish Community in Canada has Changed
Material from this article has been taken from Branching Out: The Transformation of the Canadian Jewish Community, by Gerald Tulchinsky.
Tulchinsky's book reveals some interesting demographic changes in the Canadian Jewish community since 1920. The 1921 Census of Canada listed 125,000 Jews by religion, which represented 1.5 percent of the total Canadian population. By the 1996 Census, there was an almost three-fold increase to 352,000 Jews by ethnicity. However, since the general population of Canada was rising more rapidly than the Jewish population, Jews now only represent 1.0 percent of all Canadians.
Other factors point to a continuing decline of Jews as a percentage of the overall population. As early as the 1950's, the birthrate for Jews was the lowest of all ethnic groups in Canada. This will likely continue, since the average ago for Canadian Jews is significantly higher than the Canadian average. Income and education have a profound impact on family size. Those with higher levels of income and higher educational achievement tend to have smaller families. Census figures show that Jewish males have the highest average income. The Jewish community also has twice as many university-educated members as any other ethnic group. As early as 1951, census reports showed that the average Jewish family size was the smallest of any among ethnic groups in Canada.
Shifts of profound significance have also taken place regarding where Jews reside in Canada. Since 1971, the Jewish populations in Montreal and Winnipeg have been declining, while their average age has been increasing. Almost 45 percent of all Canadian Jews live in Toronto. The exodus of young Jews from Montreal and Winnipeg has left behind a more aged population. By 1981 fifteen percent of all Canadian Jews were over 65 years of age. The percentage in Montreal was 20 percent and for Winnipeg it was 27 percent. The population that remains behind is faced with an ever-increasing financial burden in providing health care and social services for an aging population.
Post-WWII immigration has had a profound effect on the composition of the Canadian Jewish community. Between 1946 and 1960, Canada received some 46,000 Jewish immigrants, a figure equal to 27% of the total Jewish population of 168,585. This constituted a far higher level of postwar Jewish immigration than to the U.S.A. It has been estimated that by 1990, Holocaust survivors and their descendants comprised about 8 percent of the U.S. Jewish community. In Canada they account for between 30 and 40 percent of the Jewish population. In this respect, it can be stated that the Canadian Jewish community is "more Jewish" than its U.S. counterpart.
Canada's Jewish population has also been impacted by significant arrivals from the former Soviet Union, Israel, Sephardic North Africa, and South Africa. By 1975 there were 25,000 Israelis living in Canada, most of them in Toronto and Montreal. By 1989 there were 40,000. Today the number may be as high as 50,000, representing 14% of all Jews. Sephardic Jews, mainly from Morocco but also from Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Lebanon, now number 25,000, mainly in Montreal and to a lesser extent in Toronto. By the mid-1990's, an estimated ten thousand South Africa Jews were living in Toronto.
Clearly, the demographics of the Canadian Jewish community have undergone huge changes in recent years. These facts cannot be ignored by anyone involved in the social and political life of this community.
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