Related but more broad question: Why is such a large percentage of Jewish population worldwide in USA

According to Wikipedia, the United States has a higher proportion of Jews than Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

All of these countries have a very large proportion of people descended from people who immigrated in the past couple of centuries. All have a plurality or even majority of Europeans plus people descended from Europeans. All have had prejudice against Jews and Europeans from countries outside of the western part of Europe (I'm not using "Western Europe" as these prejudices pre-date the Iron Curtain), and government actions that reflected those prejudices.

  • 2
    Canada actually has a relatively high population of jews, higher then any European country, and 5th highest in the world. really new zealeand and aurtralia are your countries with no jews, and they are almost exclusively British in decent.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 0:42
  • australia 2011 census shows that 37% are british decendents, while another 37% are from native australians. there are currently 1.5 million british born as citizens in australia, whos total pop is around 20 mil
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 0:45
  • 1
    Note that's not "native" Australian per se, but rather people who identify with being form Australia. The real natives (in the sense of Native Americans) are usually called Aboriginal Australians and constitutes a much smaller portion. Like the case in the United States, many people of British descent stopped reporting their British ancestries.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 4:01
  • is there any difference in the emigration destinations of Eastern Europeans by faith? Poles & Russians going to the US rather than British colonies, I would have thought if the overall Eastern Europeans had a similar immigration destination profile compared Jewish Eastern Europeans, the question could be mute
    – pugsville
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 4:35
  • 3
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 6:16

3 Answers 3


The answer is simple - the US population is not primarily British in descent. The states have had large numbers of immigrants from all over Europe. Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have a much higher proportion of the population directly descended from British settlers, there was very little Eastern European movement to British colonies as they were just that, British. Britain itself never housed a significant population of Jews. However, the Eastern European countries had a much higher populations of Jews, and many of them immigrated to the United States throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The US was seen as a safe place for Jews away from persecution, they were able to set up Jewish communities with little to no anti semitism, unlike what they faced in Europe. That is the reason why the US has the second largest population of Jews in the world.

To add further to this, 90% of American Jews are Ashkenazi Jews, which is a Jewish group that settled in the areas of the holy roman empire. This further proves that most of the Jews came to America through the eastern emigration, from Germany, Poland, and so on. These Jews did not settle much in France, Spain, or England.


Geography has a large part to do with it. America has a large population of Dutch, German, and Polish descent - areas with significant Jewish communities (at least before the Holocaust). Many would have boarded ships in Baltic/North Atlantic ports. From there, America is a closer destination by sea than say, Australia.

In contrast, Italian, Greek and Lebanese immigrants would have boarded in Mediterranean ports allowing a considerably shorter journey to Australia through the Suez canal, hence Australia's high number of Mediterranean immigrants of mostly Orthodox and Catholic Christian faith and relatively small communities from Northern Europe.

England received less immigrants in general mainly because of size. There was nowhere near the opportunity in the UK as there was in large, comparatively young countries like the US and Australia and the refugee intake was much smaller.


Much of America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. That is, Puritans in New England, Dutch Reformers in New York, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Catholics in Maryland, etc.(among others in the original "13 Colonies.") This ethos carried over into "America" after independence.

Jews found the principle of religious freedom more attractive than many other groups, and the resulting "America" more accommodative of such than England itself, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

  • Well, the Puritans perhaps wanted the "freedom" to impose their religious doctrine on everyone in their community, as opposed to seeking equity for all religions. :) Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 1:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.