Tuesday morning, Christmas day. A bit chilly, but the sun is shinning. No snow in the Jerusalem hills and none down the road in Bethlehem.
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has just released some figures re the Christian community in the Holy Land, arguably the sole place in the Middle East where the numbers are increasing. And I quote directly: –
- Approximately 175,000 Christians live in Israel; they comprise about 2% of the State of Israel’s population.
- 77.7% of the Christians in Israel are Arab Christians.
- In 2017, the Christian population grew by 2.2%, compared to 1.4% in the previous year.
- The increase in growth resulted mostly from the immigration of 597 Falash Mura Christians from Ethiopia.
- Most of the Christian Arabs reside in the northern part of Israel: 70.6% reside in the Northern District.
- 40.9% of the non-Arab Christians reside in the Tel Aviv and Central Districts; another 33.8% reside in the Northern and Haifa Districts.
- The localities with the largest Arab Christian population were Nazareth (22,100), Haifa (15,800), Jerusalem (12,600), and Shefar’am (10,200), as of the end of 2017.
800 Christian couples married in Israel in 2016. The median age at the first marriage of Christian grooms in 2016 was 29.2, and that of Christian brides was 25.6.
- In 2017, 2,504 infants were born to Christian women, about 75% of whom were born to Arab Christian women (1,877 infants).
- Among all students studying toward a first degree, Christian Arabs were most highly represented in the following fields: public administration (14.2%), history of Israel (12.1%), and the multi-disciplinary humanities program (10.7%).
- Women constituted 75.2% of Christians studying toward a second degree, compared to 62.7% among all students studying toward a second degree.
- Compared to Arab Moslem students, the percentage of Arab Christian students studying education and teacher preparation was lower, and the percentage studying engineering, architecture, law, and medicine was higher.
The numbers are not large, but they are the follow up to a major act in the world’s history. Funny how the open roles of Christians in Israel, in Jerusalem, never seem to be reported with the honesty that they deserve.