Europe’s 1.4 million Jews
In 1939, there were 16.6 million Jews worldwide, and a majority of the─9.5 million (57%)─lived in European countries. By the end of World War II in 1945, the Jewish population had shrunk to 3.8 million (35%) of the world’s 11 million Jews. According to the estimate, about 6.0 million European Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
There are still more than a million Jews living in Europe making up about 10% of the world’s total Jewish population. That number has dropped significantly over the last several decades, especially in the Former Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries, due to the emigration to Israel. Now, a tiny fraction of the former Soviet Republics’ population─about 310,000 people─ are Jewish. In the Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary and Romania live about 100,000 Jews.
Today, concerns over renewed anti-Semitism on the European continent have prompted Jewish leaders to talk of a new exodus from the region. See below the graphic about perpetrators of anti-Semitic verbal harassment and physical assault:
Many Jews in Europe feel under assault. In an EU poll of European Jews across the Continent─published in January 2022─a full 89% of those surveyed said that anti-Semitism had significantly increased over the past few years. They believed to be under “a sustained stream of abuse.” About 38% of those surveyed said that they no longer feel safe as Jews in Europe.
European officials were stunned at the findings. Maybe they should not have been. Millions of new immigrants have settled in European countries, many from Muslim countries that harbor deep hostility to Israel, and sometimes also, to the Jews.
Not waiting for their leaders, communities across Europe have begun to take action themselves because they fear what may happen if anti-Semitism is left unchallenged. In recent years, teachers, rabbis, imams, and local activists have launched countless initiatives to break stereotypes, educate youth and forge links across religions. Those fighting anti-Semitism caution that it is likely to take many years for their efforts to succeed. (References: Michael Lipka/Pew Research Center and other online resources)
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy (Psalm 137:5─6)