The Jewish community in Britain, currently around 270,000 people (as at July 2017) dates back hundreds of years and is dispersed throughout the country. The many beautiful and ornate synagogues from Bristol to London, Brighton to Nottingham portray the historical story of Anglo Jewry, and the depth and breadth of the diversity of the Jewish people in England. Since the end of the 19th century and onset of the full emancipation of Anglo Jewry, Jews in England have lived relatively freely and unharmed, unlike in other European communities. Jewish homes in England also became safe havens for other European Jews during the Holocaust. Jews have contributed as well as perceived and acknowledged as contributing individually and collectively, to the spiritual, intellectual, commercial and political life of England. While the UK Jewish population has declined by over 25 per cent, the number of children receiving their full-time education in Jewish day schools has increased by some 500 per cent. Jewish schools, in London, Liverpool and Manchester, have set high educational standards.
Since World War II, there has been a great rise in the number of Jewish primary schools established within the state system, which now includes twenty-five state-aided primary and secondary schools. There is a further substantial number of independent Jewish schools which do not receive any state aid, but which have tax-free charitable status, most of which are strictly orthodox and are mainly in separatist Haredi communities. The status of Jewish schools in England differs from other Diaspora countries. In most countries, Jewish schools are private, receiving little or no state aid, however in England as early as 1853, a small number of Jewish schools were given state support. They were then gradually absorbed into the English state funded system. This has meant, however, that although Jewish schools in England are accessible to all Jews regardless of their financial situation, there is also a strict, secular syllabus. Today there are 19 Jewish schools throughout the UK.
English governments also have a long and mixed history with the Jews and the State of Israel. From the Balfour Declaration to preventing Jewish Holocaust survivors from entering Palestine, the British government has never had a clear stance towards the existence of the Jewish state. Most recently the British government has stood firm against anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Arab world, has stood firm against international terrorism, and the right Israel has to defend its borders.
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