Israeli think tanks estimates global Jewish population is fast nearing pre-Holocaust figures at 16.5mn. Getty Images

An Israeli think tank has estimated the world's Jewish population to be fast approaching the pre-Holocaust figures.

The Jewish People Policy Institute reported the present global Jewish population at 14.2m in a report presented to the Israeli Cabinet on 28 June.

Accounting for people with one Jewish parent or those who identify themselves as partially Jewish, the total figure hit the pre-Holocaust figure of 16.5m, reported The World Jewish Congress.

The boost in population was mostly natural with the highest population growth seen in Israel where the total number of Jews is estimated at 6.1m.

The United States came second at 5.7m with France and Canada coming third and fourth. There are an estimated 290,000 Jews in Britain.

The growth was also credited to the "changing patterns of Jewish identification" with an estimated 59% of adults in the US who have one Jewish parent preferring to be identified as Jewish, reported TIME. According to Orthodox Jewish law, a person is a Jew if his or her mother is Jewish. However, more progressive groups accept patrilineal descent.

According to Avinoam Bar-Yosef, president of the Institute, a growing number of people now feel comfortable identifying themselves as Jewish since it is more "respectful" to be a Jew in the US now than was before, reported AP News.

A total of 6m Jews reportedly lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Jews Holocaust
A large group of Jews, escorted by soldiers of the SS, are taken to a concentration camp before the eyes of the crowd at the roadside. Berlin, 1934. Getty Images

Meanwhile, a 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard, Oskar Groening, told a trial in Germany that he shared responsibility for the Holocaust.

Saying he can't even begin to seek the victims' forgiveness, Groening said: "I do not believe I am entitled to make such a request. I can only ask my Lord God for forgiveness."