- Shmuel Sackett, Director of Zehut
I spoke about it, wrote about it and knew it was happening, yet nobody believed me. I had said many times that the Jewish birth rate in Israel was growing and that one day – very soon – it would pass the Arab birth rate… and it has happened!
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics just released its report for 2016 where it stated, very clearly, that the Jewish fertility rate was 3.16 while the Arab fertility rate was 3.11. In 2015, both Jews and Arab were tied at 3.13 but by 2016 the Jewish rate went up from 3.13 to 3.16 while the Arab rate dropped from 3.13 to 3.11.
This is no small accomplishment. According to the Jerusalem Post, “in the year 2000 the fertility rate among the country’s Arab population stood at 4.3 children per woman while the fertility rate of Jewish women was 2.6.” I want you to focus on that for a minute because it’s an absolute, open miracle. In just 16 years (because the numbers are from 2016), the Arab birth rate went down from 4.3 to 3.11 while the Jewish birth rate went up from 2.6 to 3.16.
Two interesting notes: Israel’s fertility rate is the highest among the developed countries of the OECD; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and – more impressive than anything else: Israeli women are the only women in the world having more babies today than their mothers!
I must stress the point that all the numbers and data you just read are not just for religious women living in Bnei Brak. When the average rate in Israel is 3.16, it means that this is the nationwide average, which includes Bnei Brak (although Bet Shemesh came in first place) but it also includes Ramat Aviv, Herziliya and Tel Aviv. This is what makes these numbers so amazing. Think about it; I’m sure the Jewish fertility rate in Brooklyn and Monsey is quite high but when you include all Jewish women in America, the official number for Jewish fertility in America dips way down to about 2.4.
What does all this mean? In my mind, it’s quite simple. A society that has lots of babies is a society that is positive, energetic and optimistic. Young Israeli couples see a bright future and are happy to build a strong and proud Jewish state. Unlike their counterparts in Europe, with countries such as Italy having a horrific average of just 1.3 babies per family, the Israeli couple is excited about tomorrow and they are willing to do their part in building the land.
This past week we read the Torah portion of Bereisheit where Hashem told us to be “fruitful and multiply.” But Hashem said more than that; “Fill the land and conquer it.” (Bereisheit 1:28). For some reason, these words are much less famous. Everyone can quote the “fruitful and multiply” part but “fill the land and conquer it”… who knows that? However, these last words answer the question “why”? Why have the children, in the first place? Why have the bother, the hassle and the headaches? Why populate the world? Isn’t it better to have less people so we can enjoy more of the world to ourselves?
I am proud to say that in Israel, we answer those questions correctly. Even the secular, not-yet religious woman knows exactly how to answer those questions. We are building a nation. We are filling the land and yes, we are conquering it… every square inch of G-d’s promised land will be conquered by the Jewish babies of today!
Thank G-d the Arabs are becoming westernized and have starting focusing more on themselves and their personal dreams of wealth. This is exactly why they are having fewer children! Contrary to what you read in the media, they are not interested in another state or even more land. They want the good life in America, England, Canada and France. They want the electronic gadgets and toys. They want to vacation in the nice hotels. You know what I say? Let’s give it to them. Let’s open the door at Ben Gurion Airport and send them on their journey towards the golden pot at the end of the rainbow.
While they are doing this, we will follow both of Hashem’s instructions. We will be “fruitful and multiply” but immediately afterwards we will also “fill the land and conquer it.” For that we need babies… lots of babies but we also need strong and proud Jewish parents who focus on the right things. I am happy to report that today’s Israel has both! Am Yisrael Chai!!