Jewish population of the Holy Land in the nineteenth century

A research article by Daniel Kessler, based on information extracted from Montefiore Endowment’s collection of Montefiore Censuses, now freely accessible online at ‘’ has been published in Issue 6 (2016) of the scholarly journal Middle Eastern Studies.
The article contains initial findings from the five recently transcribed censuses, commissioned by Sir Moses Montefiore, of the Jewish community in nineteenth century Palestine.
It discusses each census and presents uncorrected population figures. It describes how the Jewish community was rapidly changing in that its population increased almost fourfold between 1839 and 1875, primarily due to immigration from Ashkenazi countries; and that Ashkenazim had become the majority by 1875.
Analysis of the census data gives us detailed information about the community, such as the fact that Ashkenazim were significantly more likely than Sephardim to be engaged in full-time Torah study, whereas those who had immigrated to the Holy Land were slightly less likely.
It also suggests that, though the average age of immigrants arriving in Palestine was thirty-six, immigration occurred at all ages.

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