A couple of paragraphs in an article titled How Anti-Discrimination Became a Religion, and What It Means for Judaism caught my eye (don't ask me how I happened upon that article - I have absolutely no idea!):
As for those who remain active members of the Jewish community, they will be divided among a large but shrinking cohort of mostly Reform and other religiously liberal Jews; a smaller but vigorous group of modern and centrist Orthodox Jews joined by remnants of the rapidly declining Conservative movement; and a large and rapidly growing group of ḥaredi or “ultra-Orthodox” Jews.
At some point, indeed, this last-named group, whose current rate of per-year population growth stands at an astonishing 5.5-percent, will form a significant element of the public “face” of American Jewry.Before I get to my main point, I first have to point out that even though I'm jewish through ancestry (though non-practicing), ultra-orthodox Jews are as strange and exotic to me as the Amish or Tibetan monks or something like that. For example, if, for some reason, I suddenly decided that I needed to go to some sort of religious service, while my first choice would be a Reform Jewish service, I'd much rather go to, oh, I dunno, let's say a Methodist service or something like that, rather than an ultra-Orthodox Jewish service.
As far as I can tell, the ultra-Orthodox could never really be the "face" or in any way representative of all American Jews. Or, at least, I rather hope not.
But there is that population growth thing to consider. 5.5 percent per year really is astonishing (basically more than doubling every generation and amounts to over 6 children per woman on average) and if maintained, would indeed eclipse the rest of the shrinking American Jewish population in just a handful of generations.
What really caught my attention, though, was how well this real-life scenario potentially fits the population simulations I did a while back:
The simulation is fairly simple. Start with a population of 1,000,000,000 people. There are two types of "genes" in this population. The most common and also dominant gene is the "barren gene" and compels its individual to produce one child on average. Given that it takes two parents to produce a child, if this were the only "gene," the population would halve every generation and mankind would indeed go extinct in only a few hundred years.This very pessimistic simulation shows the population dropping fairly precipitously for 15 to 20 generations until the "fruitfuls" finally become common enough to overwhelm the "barrens" and then the population comes roaring back in 20 to 30 generations.
The second "gene" is the "fruitful gene" and potentially compels its individual to have three children on average. However, since this "gene" is recessive, the individual is only compelled to have three children if he or she has two of these "genes." At the start of the simulation, only five-percent of the genes are of this type. So not only is it recessive, it's also rare. If a double "fruitful" mates with a someone with at least one "barren gene", they split the difference and have two children.
Here, in real life, the non-ultra-Orthodox American Jews pretty much follow the "barren" pattern (somewhat more than one child per couple) and the ultra-Orthodox Jews are more than "fruitful" (more than 6 children per couple), at least at the moment. In addition, unlike the simulation where all mating is random making it unlikely for the rare "fruitfuls" to mate with each other until enough "barrens" have died out, the ultra-Orthodox clearly seek each other out at a far greater rate than would occur in random mating.
That's why when some folks get to hand-wringing about falling birthrates, I'm far from concerned. Some group will always be happy to go forth and multiply and be there to inherit the earth.