Essex Jews on the move – a look at the 2021 Census


THE latest Census figures have shown what most of us have seen via friends, family and indeed articles in this newspaper – Jewish people in Essex and NE London are moving areas.

The results of the 2021 Census, a nationwide survey of England and Wales that takes place every 10 years, has shown a large decrease in the number of Jews living in Redbridge – but some notable increases elsewhere in our region, most markedly in Epping Forest and Havering.

It’s important to note that the Census only asks about Judaism as a religion. That means the statistics gathered will not include those who do not consider Judaism to be their faith, but do identify as culturally Jewish, secular Jews, half-Jewish, part-Jewish and all the other ways people define in modern times.

With that caveat in mind, a good starting point is to look at how the statistics have changed since the 2011 Census in Essex and some of the surrounding London boroughs.


Although the overall decrease for our region is of course a worry, analysing the figures, Essex Jewish Community Council chair Daniel Rosenberg highlighted some more positive news. Daniel reports reports that Essex as a whole (excluding Redbridge, which is a London Borough), has shown overall growth and has now overtaken Yorkshire as the fourth largest Jewish area in the UK.

In total 271,327 people in England and Wales selected their religion as Jewish, roughly 0.5% of the population and an increase of just over 6,000 on 10 years ago.

The most interesting increase for readers of the Essex Jewish News is likely to be that found in Epping Forest, a rise of around 10%.

Could this indicate that Epping Forest is to Redbridge what Redbridge was to Newham and the East End?

Those areas saw an influx of Jewish people from Eastern Europe at the start of the 20th century and at one point had numerous synagogues and Jewish shops.

After World War II, however, many of those residents moved on to Redbridge and, over time, the Jewish population in those original areas all but disappeared – although interestingly there was a slight increase in Newham from 2011 to 2021.

Redbridge seems to be following in this same direction, with Jewish people choosing to move out of the area. While some are undoubtedly leaving for Barnet and Borehamwood, this new data suggests they are also moving to Epping Forest as well as other Essex districts including Uttlesford, Harlow, Chelmsford and the London Borough of Havering (which could be considered Essex depending who you’re asking).

The other notable increase is Castle Point, home to Canvey Island, which saw the number of Jewish people almost quadruple to 661 since 2011, following around 500 Charedi Jewish people moving there in 2016.

People’s reasons for moving include: for a better life; cheaper house prices; to be near the sea and to be near green areas. Struggles in new areas include lack of access to kosher food, decent delis and community centres.

On the EssexK and Essex Jewish News Facebook groups, debate is raging about how our community should respond to these changes. Ideas include encouraging kosher shops like La Boucherie and community centres like Jewish Care’s RJCC to set up outposts in areas such as Epping and Collier Row. There is also a need to support new synagogues and communities that are emerging or will emerge. Whatever happens, one thing is clear. Jewish life is once again on the move.



One comment

  1. That’s exactly right! I have several friends who’ve moved from Redbridge to Collier Row (in Havering) recently. I myself moved to Suffolk which I love but it’s hard having no Jewish community or delis up here.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *