Activity: Israel And The Diaspora

Examining Trends

The aim of this activity is to examine the demographic trend in the Jewish world regarding Israel and the Diaspora, and to enable the students to draw conclusions.

  • Give the students the following figures. Tell them that they have returned to an earlier role as demographers preparing a report on the Jewish world for the World Jewish Congress. This time, their task is to examine demographic trends in the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
Year World Jewish Population Israel Number
1939 16,620,000 445,000
1945 11,000,000 565,000
1948 11,530,000 650,000
1950 11,373,000 1,203,000
1955 11,800,000 1,591,000
1975 12,742,000 2,959,000
1985 12,871,000 3,517,000
1990 12,869,000 3,947,000
1993 12,963,000 4,335,000
1995 13,000,000 4,550,000
2001 13,254,000 4,952,000
2002 Not Available 5,292,000


  • Divided into small groups, the students should examine the statistics. They should draw a diagram or series of diagrams that help to clarify the basic trends evident in the figures. They should also prepare a presentation that not only presents briefly their findings, but also describes what they see as the significance of the statistics. This should include taking a (non-academic!) position on the findings. Does the group see the trend in the Jewish world as positive or negative?
  • The groups should report back to the whole group. A discussion should develop regarding the positive or negative implications of these statistics as the group sees them.
  • Returning to the small groups, the question they should now consider is this: on the basis of these figures, what policy would they recommend to the World Jewish Congress? Should the trend be encouraged (which will encourage one sort of policy) or should it be seen as neutral (in which case it calls for another kind of policy)? Should the leaders of the Jewish world not interfere, thus letting the trends develop naturally, or should they take a stand in one direction or another?
  • Examine the recommendations and summarize them. Is there a majority opinion in the class?



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11 Dec 2006 / 20 Kislev 5767 0