If we were to use Woody Allen as our source, we’d probably conclude Jews were among the least healthy – or, more accurately, least likely to think they were healthy – of all ethnic or religious groups.
In reality, Jews are the healthiest religious or ethnic minority in Britain.
A total of 83 percent of us are in good or very good health, and a further 12 percent in fair health. And there is evidence that we are becoming healthier, albeit mainly because the Jewish population, on average, is becoming younger over time, not least owing to high birth rates in the Charedi sector.
At the same time, Jews have a higher proportion of elderly people than all other religious groups.
Only 0.2 percent of the Muslim population of Britain is aged 85 and above, compared to 4.2 percent of the Jewish population. And, of course, there is a relationship between age and health – the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from health or mobility issues – so the pressure on the Jewish community to provide elderly care is great.
JPR’s new report uses the most up-to-date statistics we have on health and disability to quantify the scale of this need. Its purpose is to put these figures into the hands of Jewish charities active in this sector, to help them achieve their ambitions for all Jews to receive the types of elderly care they want and need.
At the other end of the age spectrum, it’s about ensuring that we keep a close eye on those Jewish children with some kind of limiting health condition – and there are some 2,000 of them in total – and provide the Jewish charities working in this area with the data they need to be most effective.
• Dr Jonathan Boyd is executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research