Fifty-six years after the reunification of Jerusalem, the city has almost 1 million inhabitants. Jerusalem is not only holy, it is also Israel’s largest city. At the end of 2021, Israel’s capital had a population of 966,200, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, twice as many as Tel Aviv (467,900) and three times as many as Haifa (282,800). The population of Jerusalem makes up a tenth of Israel’s total population, which stands at almost 10 million.
Jerusalem’s population is divided into the following sectors:
- 590,600 are Jews
- 362,600 are Muslims
- 12,900 are Arab Christians
- 3,500 are non-Arab Christians
- 10,500 residents have no religious affiliation.
At the end of 2021, ultra-Orthodox Jews (283,500) made up about 48% of Jerusalem’s Jewish population and about 29% of the city’s total population.
Worryingly, while Jerusalem’s population is growing (due to birth rates), the city registers negative annual migration. In 2021, 11,900 moved to Jerusalem from other localities, while 22,900 residents of Jerusalem left the city.
One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that Jerusalem is a very religious city that secular Israelis often find too complicated or frustrating to live in. Young people especially are leaving Jerusalem and moving to the coastal area, which just has a different vibe. This is something that has always characterized the Jewish population throughout the country’s history. Even in biblical times, Jerusalem was the religious city on the mountains, where God’s House stood. The other regions, especially the coastal area and Galilee, were inhabited by secular Jews.
According to the Central Bureau for Statistics, of the 322,800 Jews aged 20 and over living in Jerusalem, 19% defined themselves as secular (population 62,400), 25% defined themselves as traditional Jews (81,800), 20% as religious Jews (65,600) and 35% defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox Jews (113,100). This explains, among other things, why only two-thirds of the inhabitants of Jerusalem are employed, the rest study the Torah and pray. This is seen by some as a blessing, but by others is heavily criticized as one of the main reasons that Jerusalem is Israel’s poorest city.
There is also a significant difference in the birth rate in Jewish society compared to Arab society. The fertility rate for Jewish women in Jerusalem was 4.4, significantly higher than the fertility rate for Arab women in city, which was 3.1. The differences between the birth rates of the Jewish and Arab populations are mainly due to the high birth rates of the city’s ultra-Orthodox and religious Jewish sectors.
In 2021, 39% of Jerusalem families (125,900) lived below the poverty line, accounting for 51% of the city’s children (202,400). The poverty rate in Jerusalem as a whole is significantly higher than the rest of Israel, where 21% of families and 28% of children lived below the poverty line in 2021. The poverty phenomenon in Jerusalem is particularly widespread among the ultra-Orthodox and Arab populations, which are both characterized by large families and low incomes. Some 33% of Jerusalem’s population are children.
Let us remember what God said of Jerusalem’s restoration and blessing in Zechariah 8:
“I am jealous for Zion with great zeal; I am jealous for her with great fervor.
“…I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of Hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.
“…Old men and old women will again sit along the streets of Jerusalem, each with a staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing there.
“…If this is impossiblea in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be impossible in My eyes?
“…I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west. I will bring them back to dwell in Jerusalem, where they will be My people, and I will be their faithful and righteous God.”
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