2011 Census – first report. Up 35%…or 9%?

June 24, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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When the census forms were issued in 2011, the Jewish religion was not listed as a tick box option. But we have extracted what we can to bring you the latest figures…

In the 2006 census, the total population of Australia was reported as being 19,855,287 and those registering as Jews was 0.4% which equates to 79,421.

The 2011 census reports the Australian population to have grown to 21,507,719 and those registering as Jews to be 0.5%.

According to these figures, the Jewish registered population is now 107,538, an increase of 35%.

But the figure of Australians registering as being Jewish according to the ABS is 97,335 and the published figure for 2006 was just under 89,000. This represents an increase of over 8,000…and increase of 9%.

In 2006, 3,706,553 declined to specify a religion. In 2011 this number increased to 4,796,787 an increase of 29.4%.

The release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not specify Judaism on its fact sheets although J-Wire will attempt to get this information.

It does state that in Melbourne those declaring themselves as Catholics represent 27.2% of the population down from 28.3%, no religion 23.5% up from 20.1% Anglican 10.8% down from 12.2% and Eastern Orthodox 5.5% down from 5.9% in the 2006 census.

4% of Melbourne practices Buddhism and 4% belong to the Uniting Church.

The statistics reveal Catholics to be 28.3% of the population down from 29.3%, Anglicans 16.1% down from 17.9%, Islam 4.7% up from 3.9% and Eastern Orthodox 4.2% as against 4.3% in 2006. 14.1% said they did not practice any religion.

President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dr Danny Lamm said: “Clearly we understand that not including Judaism immediately will impact on the responses plus the personal discomfort some members of our community have.”

J-Wire intends clarifying the figures with the ABS this week.


19 Responses to “2011 Census – first report. Up 35%…or 9%?”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Got carried away with being so excessively nice to Prof. Rubinstein that forgot to point to a tiny bit of inconsistency in his posting.
    Once we accept – as per Prof. Rubinstein’s own statement, last paragraph – that the Australian Jewish community has achieved in the post war period a higher degree of Jewish identity afirmation, the assumed enormous THIRD quantitative identity mass denial ceases to make sense.
    I would settle for a number, much less than the Rubinstein Third, but couldn’t possible venture a figure.

    NOW one may call me at least sarcastic !

  2. Bill says:

    Otto Waldmann’s ignorant and malicious attack on me in the Sydney edition of the AJN should probably be treated with contempt. But I would like to advise him to read something- anything- by scholars in the field before launching on long-winded and meandering attacks, which, frankly, leave the reader puzzled as to what he is talking about. The Australian Census asks all respondents to state their religion. This is an optional question, and may be answered with the response “no religion” or “religion not stated.” It is not repeat not a question about one’s ethnic background, but about one’s religion. Many persons who would be generally regarded as Jewish by ethnicity choose not to answer it. The question is how many. The most reasonable conclusion is that Jews behave like everyone else, and the percentage of non-respondents is similar to the general population. There are other reasons to suppose that
    this percentage is either broadly correct or possibly an underestimate of actual Jewish numbers. The most striking thing about the number of Jews identified in the Census is that it has constantly risen in all recent Censuses. In 2001 the number of Jews identified in the Census of that year was about 83,000, and in 2011 it was over 97,000, a rise of about 16 per cent in only ten years. This rise occurred despite the fact that one had to write
    out “Jewish” as one’s religion in 2011 rather than tick a box. Part of this increase must be due to continuing Jewish immigration to Australia, but much of it is a tribute to the ways in which Australian Jewry has organised its institutions since 1945 to diminish intermarriage and assimilation, and sets Australia apart from many other Diaspora Jewish communities.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Otto Waldmann may be ignorant on a few matters – he has no idea how French patisseries get that croissant so fluffy, for instance – but he knows a fluffy sociometric number when he sees one.
      The same Otto Waldmann has no malice, but he is only happy when statements that claim to be reliant on solid data venture into the REAL world. To clarify, however, a current issue, the twice mentioned Otto Waldmann did not attack Prof. Rubinstein in the current AJN, but if Prof. Rubinstein happens to be that sensitive to a mere mention of his name without malice, Otto Waldmann is most definitely NOT qualify – yet another area of ignorance on his part – to address that personal complaint.
      As I said, when determining actual figures one must strictly depend on reliable measuring methods.
      Speculations are allowed by virtue of free speech, but a census controversy wants to see real meat on the bone. I, for one, do enjoy the occasional incursions of curiosity into the intricate lives of my fellow Jews and I do venture into imaginary spirals of lives that could have been or are, indeed, unfolding within the sphere of my rich magination. I call that an inner call to fiction. When matters of some precision come to be”accounted” for, then I try my own very best to be a reliable historian. Our mentor Bertrand Russel and his mate ( and my imaginary one ) Dr. Wittgenstein, defined history as unbelished communication of verified facts. When it comes to sociological matters – and that would be the realm of a census – facts are even more imperatively demanded.
      To be precise in all debated matters, I said, without malice, that Professor Rubinstein “knows from some sources ” etc. I did not infere that the “sources” are not reliable. It is indeed Prof. Rubinstein by his present reply, that cares to cast doubt about the reliablity of those “sources” by attaching mean intent on Otto Waldmann’s part. I would argue that the “sources” Prof. Rubintesin relied on would be perfectly respectable, for there is no suggestion AT ALL in my comments that they would be anything else. That being said , I reckon that the poster of the comments below owes Prof. Rubinstein an apology for daring to suggest that he would be anything but utterly academically respectable, something that goes without saying that I, in fact the same Otto Waldmann, fully agree with. So there……

      One relevant comment:
      Once Prof. Rubinstein detaches the Jewish element as distinct in its profile, considering the historical circumstances that had affected its behaviour, an general amalgamation with all other circumstantial factors affecting OTHER cathegories makes for a falacy of the first degree.
      If, indeed, the Shoah survivors presented reasons for identity denial, that factor must be considered as acutely diminished on a temporal basis. It is, however, also accpetable that the diminished number of survivors would, in their very late ages, be exposed to different types of circumstances, altering their specific stance on Jewish identity, as declared. Counterintuitively, most of the said survivors would reside in Jewish retirement homes. The known practice of those institutions at times of census recording has been to “supervise” the completion of census forms in a mnner cosistent with coimmunal “advice”. Thus we have a cathegory which previously abstained from positive acknoeldgement to one of communal reliability. The Russian element is, again, an altered one. Jewish schools have accounted in the past few decades for an increase of Russian enrolments, thus ensuring, again, a more active identification of those of “Soviet” origin with the Jewish local communities. That I know to be, again, a fact, having worked first hand with the Russians – also a close linguistical and cultural affinity, personally speaking -. South African imigration can only attest for a strong Jewsih identification.
      Thus the speculative area is drastically reduced, therefore a 30% diffrential is extremly hard to justify.
      Semantics or lexical omissions, do not make any difference. Any literate Jew would know that “religion” attached to Jewish does not mean religious OBSERVANCE, but a distinct identity, as all Jews, religious or not, have lived and continue to experience.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Interesting how Bill, in an attempt to offend Otto Waldmann lances the boil of incongruities displayed by Prof. Rubinstein. To be fair, the AJN letter did not attempt at any malice toward Rubinstein. Bill, on the other hand, directs his commnents toward a possible Prof. Rubinstein being grossly erroneous in his pseudo-academic attempt at sociometric assessment simply by asserting that Otto Waldmann had proven malicious against Prof. Rubinstein.
      Waldmann did not “attack” Rubinstein. He simply stated that Prof. Rubinstein arrived at a certain number, distinct from the one provided officially by the Census. How is that ignorant and malicious ?!
      Let us, nevertheless, follow Bill and see if, indeed Prof. Rubinstein applied rigurous method in his census analyssis.
      Prof. Rubinstein arrives at a numebr of 125,00 Jews in Australia through baseless speculation, market-place narratives,prattle, disconnected unscientific assumptions, guesswork and, most reprehensively in academic terms, untested speculative figures based on truncated, occasional personal experience some, admittedly, some THREE DECADES old. Prof. Rubinstein did NOT participate in the Australian 2011 census in any capacity, anyway Most interesting, the so called reasons for increase in Australian Jewry numbers offered here by “Bill”, is consistent with a DIMINISHED number of undeclared Jews, not with a massive THIRTY PERCENT absentism.It must also be said that , the assumption that the Jewish identity can be made analogue to any other, denotes a very poor undestanding of the Jewish specificity by Bill and the same could be said about Prof. Rubinstein
      Just as important is the fact that Australian based sociologists who compiled the comments on the census in the AJN did not engage in any speculative numbers outside the strict census figures.
      So, let’s hear it again about ignorance !

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    Can Prof. Rubinstein clarify the notion of a “given” number , and “large” at that, of Jews who do not register as such.
    How is that number determined in a such a manner that it can be relied on, not to mention what is the practical value of pure intuitive assessment. Who is going to consider such a pure guess when and where numbers really count ?
    This is also to reopen the important issue of Jewish religion being a specifically stated cathegory on the census form.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    In terms of tradition, the number of children per Jewish family has alternated over generations since approx. 2nd half of 19 Century according to the degree of Jewsih intergration into urban cultures and influences of religious centrifugal factors. Examples plenty: ALL my grandparents from within the Austro Hungarian area came from families of a MINIMUM NINE (!!) CHILDREN upwards to THIRTEEN. The successive generation, from the Subcarpatian Ukraine to Vienna and Banat/Transylvania reduced to a standard TWO and a maximum of FOUR some of whom departed from ultra Orthodoxy and even into atheism with very few converts.
    The presence of ultra Orthodoxy in contemporary Jewish society reinstated the larger family while at the fringes of the religious spectrum numbers have remained LOW.
    A greater confidence of the ultra Ordodoxy in settling in the Diaspora urban environment particularly in areas with anti Semitic past, (see France ) combined with the Arab rejection of Jews its geographic area and expansion of the same in areas more tollerant, (USA, Canada, UK and Australia ) must be responsible for the increase. Better social arrangements in Israel also encouraged a wellcome increase among the same together with stronger Zionist activism among the Diaspora ultra Orthodox Jews.

    What must be considered is – my current little obsession – the failure of the Australian Jewish leadership and the communal respective experts/academics in the field to address the issue of the inexcusable omission by the Statistician in including one of the main Universal Religions in the graph.They should have been allert and active !!!
    I must bore you with the sterile predilection of the said leaders with the inane issues of TV shows and self-satisfaction with photo oportunities of no effective value alongside those RESPONSIBLE for treating our community on too many occasions with blatant indiference when it MATTERS, just like NOW.
    Do I need to remind anyone what are the ramifications of the Jews not being a recognised distinct part of the configuration of our society !!!??
    Who is going to write THAT letter !!??

    • Shirlee says:

      Go for it Otto!!

      • Shirlee says:

        Otto with all due respect, I have to tell you that I am almost 100% sure our ‘leaders’ as you put it, DID TRY to get Judaism on the list of religions.

        I don’t remember which religions were listed specifically, but many with larger numbers than Judaism weren’t listed either.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Dear Shirlee
          my point is that, perusing the list of postings on ECAJ I did NOT see anything related to this issue at all and the list goes back a few years. On it you can see ALL matters that ECAJ addressed.
          The other thing is that I expected “Judaism” or any other of its genetic appelation form to be on the list because:
          1. It is a well known religion present for millenia in western civilisation, as Australia is still part of. Judaism, as I said before, is one – and to be fair, the principal one – of the recognised THREE known as Universal Religions – along Xanity and Islam -.
          2. Most relevant in statistic logic, one may NOT assume, anticipate, the outcome of the process of a census. The whole point of the process is precisely to find out what the status is at the END of the “count”, as, indeed anticipating a census is no longer a count, a…census in real terms. Just as important is the FACT that “Jewish” used to be printed, present , in previous census forms but, in the last one, as we all know, it has been excluded.
          As most such numbers tend to grow, there was even less of a reason for it to be excluded. On the other hand there is no known , officially advised, minimum numbers ASSUMED that may preclude the inclusion of a cathegory. But, again, anticipated numbers defy the principle of a census. So, Rita was right to be curious and I am right to be really cheesed off. But hey, I am the only one and, according to the same census principle, I should be totally ignored because I must be wrong by virtue of a single number, i.e. “1”.

          Just a minute, hold it just a minute !!!! I AM , IN FACT,……………..NUMBER ONE !!!!!
          And that makes me more important than ECAJ or even NSWJBD !!! Ieish Elohim !
          Tomorrow I expect JWire to post a picture of me with:
          – the Prime Minister
          – NSW Premier
          – Bob Carr
          – NSW Police Commish
          – Kaisar Trad
          – Paris Hilton
          – Paris Hilton and my ex wife, Paris , completely ravished, saying: ” How could you dump HIM, you fool !”
          to be continued……….

          Either way, the mentioned (!) leaders cannot prove post factum that they were involved in the matter as proof is not whre exactly it should be. If s and so would come up, not that they care what we, hoi poloi, talek about and state that the lost sleep, hot chocolate and, mainly letters worrying about it, then I will believe them. ( under the heading of haloymes, that is )

  5. Shirlee says:

    Bill, when you get home, you’ll notice it’s pretty much the norm now for a couple to have 3 or 4 children, whereas in the past it was two on average.

    I think the growth rate in part can be attributed to this. By the way, it’s not only amongst the Jewish population.

  6. Rafael says:

    Prior to the Census I was asked by someone what they should put in the ‘religion’ section. They were not brought up Jewish,but he knew that his grandfather & grandmother had ‘converted’ to Christianity from Judaism. He wasn’t sure if he could be called ‘Jewish’ as he’d never been an active Jew. He is not a Christian but respects and listens to Torah and ‘feels’ Jewish. I have been teaching him Hebrew and the ancient prayers. I told him that if he felt that his primary ‘religious allegience’ was to Judaism then he should put this in the box. Did I do wrong to advise him such? I also told him that those coming back to the Jewish ‘Faith’ are more respected in the Talmud than those born to it. Can anyone recall the reference?

    • Shirlee says:

      Rafael, that is what I call doing a mitzvah.

      Were they his maternal grandparents? If so then he is Jewish but will have to prove it down the track.

  7. Rita says:

    Can someone tell me please why the Jewish religion was not listed as a tick box option?

  8. I have been following the Australian Jewish census statistics since the 1970s. The number of Jews found in the 2011 Census (97, 335) represents a 9 per cent increase in the declared Australian Jewish population in only five years, a remarkable increase. Given the large numbers of Australians who declare either “No Religion” or “Religion Not Stated” it is reasonable to conclude that there are about 125,000 Jews in Australia today, with about 65,000 in Melbourne. This increase in Jewish numbers is consistent with findings in other Diaspora countries that the Jewish population is rising again, after a long period of no growth. Elsewhere, this has been attributed to the great increase in Charedi numbers, but in Australia there are probably other factors at work, such as the relatively low rate of intermarriage among Australian Jews.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Can you please, Prof. Rubinstein, clarify the notion of “given” the..numbers of Jews who do NOT identify as such . On a park bench one can indulge in such casual little chat. Large, in particular, who and how is that number determined ?!

      • Bill says:

        In reply to Otto’s posting, the normal method is simply to assume that the percentage of Jews (however defined) who do not give “Jewish” as their religion in the Census is the same as the percentage in the general population who respond “no freligion” or “religion not stated.”
        There is no way to know whether this is accurate or not, but there are presumably a fair number of persons who are ethnically Jewish but are not in any way religious. It was also often said that many Holocaust survivors were reluctant to state their religion as “Jewish,” although the Australian censuses are confidential and could not be used for
        anti-semitic purposes. There are also other ways to approach this question. When I was researching my 1991 book on the Jews in Australia post-1945, I found that the Jewish Welfare Society in Melbourne (as it was then known) maintained a master list of all Jews in Victoria, which was constantly updated for fundraising purposes. This list contained, as
        I remember it, over 30 per cent more names than the number of Jews in Victoria who claimed to be Jewish in the previous census. (The details are in my book.) Presumably there is still such a list in Melbourne and a similar one in Sydney (but probably not in the smaller states). The Jewish situation is also compounded by what are presumably differentials in those not identifying as Jewish among various Jewish groups. For instance, it may well be that more ex-Soviet Jews do not reply “Jewish” to the Census question than the average. More information might well be forthcoming when the more detailed Census statistics become available.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Thanks for the reply. We could go on endlessly on the subject. I do appreciate the reluctance factor, one that has been explained, for instance, so well in the Adorno group study of seminal value in the immediate WWII aftermath. As life seems to go, our dear parents who surviced the Shoah have passed on in the great majority, and don’t we miss them. So a significant percentage of that class of reluctance cannot be counted on. Yet, as anectaodal evidence seems to hve a healthy life of its own, counterintuitive data is, still, far more reliable. I would allow, however, that certain types would abandon the Jewish formal appelative under certain circumstances. The one that would have the greatest bearing is the ostensive displeasure with matters Jewish, be it political or, indeed, very personal, something incredibly difficult to ascertain. The notion of religion attached to the cathegory does not play an important role. Most people would attach to the singular “Jewish” even without the “religious” commitement, if, indeed, selfdeclared “athiest”. “Philosophical” dependency may play a role, but, again in a very small measure. Departures would be more likely in certain cases of mix marriages, obviously where degrees of familial conflict are present and, of course, identity neutralisation in the same family, itself responsible for the abandonment of the “tribe” through marriage.
          We must afford the great increase in Jewish education institutions an important role in mainatining Jewish identity, in certain ( well known ) case wher mixed marriages have resultate in a strong assertion of the Jewish side to the point of uniterrupted Jewish continuity.

          So a 30% differential is hard to ingest this day and age fro all above reasons……if what I listed could be accepted as reasons.

          There is no doubt that a more effective effort should have been seen from the Jewish communal leadership in assuring that the Jewish cathegory was positively stated in the census form.
          Reasons for it are so bloody evdent that they don’t even need be listed. BUT I SHALLL !!!!

          …to be continued !!!

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