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Jews

Jews

Overview
The Jews also known as the Jewish people, are a nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

s or Hebrews
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 of the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

. The Jewish ethnicity
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

, and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 are strongly interrelated, as Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation. Converts to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

, whose status as Jews within the Jewish ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 is equal to those born into it, have been absorbed into the Jewish people throughout the millennia.

In Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 and Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 in the second millennium BCE.
The modern State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 defines itself as a Jewish state in its Basic Laws
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

, and is the only country where Jews are a majority of the population.
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Timeline

539 BC   King Cyrus The Great of Persia marches into the city of Babylon, releasing the Jews from almost 70 years of exile and making the first Human Rights Declaration.

1348   The anti-royalist Union of Valencia attacks the Jews of Murviedro on the pretext that they are serfs of the King of Valencia and thus "royalists".

1349   Approximately 2,000 Jews are burned to death by mobs or forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg.

1349   Six thousand Jews are killed in Mainz after being blamed for the bubonic plague.

1391   Jews are massacred in Palma de Mallorca.

1492   The Jews are expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree takes effect.

1862   American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues ''General Order No. 11'', expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

1903   The Kishinev pogrom in Kishinev (Bessarabia) begins, forcing tens of thousands of Jews to later seek refuge in Israel and the Western world.

1941   World War II: On Jewish New Year Day, the German SS murder 6,000 Jews in Vinnytsya, Ukraine. Those are the survivors of the previous killings that took place a few days earlier in which about 24,000 Jews were executed.

1941   World War II: On Jewish New Year Day, the German SS murder 6,000 Jews in Vinnytsya, Ukraine. Those are the survivors of the previous killings that took place a few days earlier in which about 24,000 Jews were executed.

1941   1,500 Jews from Pidhaytsi (in western Ukraine) are sent by Nazis to Belzec extermination camp.

 
Encyclopedia
The Jews also known as the Jewish people, are a nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

s or Hebrews
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 of the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

. The Jewish ethnicity
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

, and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 are strongly interrelated, as Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation. Converts to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

, whose status as Jews within the Jewish ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 is equal to those born into it, have been absorbed into the Jewish people throughout the millennia.

In Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 and Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 in the second millennium BCE.
The modern State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 defines itself as a Jewish state in its Basic Laws
Basic Laws of Israel
The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

, and is the only country where Jews are a majority of the population. Jews also experienced political autonomy twice during ancient history
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

. The first of the two ancient eras spanned from 1350 to 586 BCE, and encompassed the periods of the Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, the United Monarchy
United Monarchy
According to Biblical tradition, the united Kingdom of Israel was a kingdom that existed in the Land of Israel, a period referred to by scholars as the United Monarchy. Biblical historians date the kingdom from c. 1020 BCE to c...

, and the Divided Monarchy of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, ending with the destruction of the First Temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

. The second era was the period of the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 Kingdom spanning from 140 to 37 BCE. Since the destruction of the First Temple, the diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 has been the home of most of the world's Jews. Except in Israel, Jews are a minority in every country in which they live, and they have frequently experienced persecution
Persecution of Jews
Persecution of Jews has occurred on numerous occasions and at widely different geographical locations. As well as being a major component in Jewish history, it has significantly affected the general history and social development of the countries and societies in which the persecuted Jews...

 throughout history, resulting in a population that fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries.

, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.42 million by the North American Jewish Data Bank, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. According to this report, about 42% of all Jews reside in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 (5.70 million), and about 42% in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (5.28 million) and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (0.38 million), with most of the remainder living in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 (1.46 million). These numbers include all those who consider themselves Jews, whether or not they are affiliated with a Jewish organization. The total world Jewish population
Jewish population
Jewish population refers to the number of Jews in the world. Precise figures are difficult to calculate because the definition of "Who is a Jew" is a source of controversy.-Total population:...

, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, there are halakhic
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

disputes regarding who is a Jew
Who is a Jew?
"Who is a Jew?" is a basic question about Jewish identity and considerations of Jewish self-identification. The question is based in ideas about Jewish personhood which themselves have cultural, religious, genealogical, and personal dimensions...

 and secular, political, and ancestral identification factors that may affect the figure considerably.

Name and etymology


The English word Jew continues Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 , a loan from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 , earlier , ultimately from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 .
The Latin simply means Judaean, "from the land of Judaea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

".
The Latin term itself, like the corresponding Greek , is a loan from Aramaic , corresponding to , Yehudi (sg.); , Yehudim (pl.
Plural
In linguistics, plurality or [a] plural is a concept of quantity representing a value of more-than-one. Typically applied to nouns, a plural word or marker is used to distinguish a value other than the default quantity of a noun, which is typically one...

), in origin the term for a member of the tribe of Judah
Tribe of Judah
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Judah was one of the Tribes of Israel.Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes....

 or the people of the kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

. The name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

.

The Hebrew word for Jew, ISO 259-3
ISO 259-3
ISO 259-3 is a standard for the phonemic conversion/representation of Hebrew in the Latin script. It is aimed on delivering the common structure of the Hebrew word throughout the different dialects or pronunciation styles of Hebrew, in a way that it can be reconstructed into the original Hebrew...

Yhudi, is pronounced jehuˈdi, with the stress on the final syllable, in Israeli Hebrew, in its basic form.

The Ladino name is , Djudio (sg.); , Djudios (pl.); ; , Yidn (pl.).

The etymological equivalent is in use in other languages, e.g., "Yahoud"/"Yahoudi" in Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 "Jude" in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, "juif" in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, "jøde" in Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, "judío" in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, etc., but derivations of the word "Hebrew" are also in use to describe a Jew, e.g., in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 (Ebreo), in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 ("Ebri/Ebrani" ) and Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 (Еврей, Yevrey). The German word "Jude" is pronounced ˈjuːdə, and is the origin of the word Yiddish. (See Jewish ethnonyms for a full overview.)

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is an American dictionary of the English language published by Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin, the first edition of which appeared in 1969...

, Fourth Edition (2000):
It is widely recognized that the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar
Vulgarism
A vulgarism , also called scurrility, is a colloquialism of an unpleasant action or unrefined character, which substitutes a coarse, indecorous word where the context might lead the reader to expect a more refined expression.-See also:*Euphemism*Grotesque body*Ribaldry, scatology, toilet...

 and highly offensive. In such contexts Jewish is the only acceptable possibility. Some people, however, have become so wary of this construction that they have extended the stigma to any use of Jew as a noun, a practice that carries risks of its own. In a sentence such as There are now several Jews on the council, which is unobjectionable, the substitution of a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offense for seeming to imply that Jew has a negative connotation when used as a noun.

Origins


According to their tradition, the Jewish people originated from the Israelites of the Southern Levant
Southern Levant
The Levant is the geographical region bordering the Mediterranean, roughly between Egypt and Anatolia . The Southern Levant is roughly encompassed by Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, along with the modern sovereign states of Israel, Jordan and the southern part of Lebanon.Although the term...

, who had several independent states before being overtaken first by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n and Babylonian Empires and later the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, with a large portion of the population being scattered throughout the world. According to the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, all Israelites were descended from Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, who was born in the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city of Ur
Ur
Ur was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate...

, and migrated to Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 (commonly known as the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

) with his family. Genetic studies on Jews
Genetic studies on Jews
Genetic studies on the Jews are part of population genetics. This discipline is used to better understand the chronology of migration and thus complements the results provided by history, archeology, language or paleontology. The interest of these studies is to investigate the origins of various...

 show that most Jews worldwide do indeed bear a common genetic heritage which originates in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, and that they bear their strongest resemblance to the peoples of the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

, with only minor contribution from their host populations (historically due to the taboo on intermarriage in Jewish tradition, the low number of converts to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

, as well as the general isolations and persecutions of Jews throughout history). According to some Biblical archaeologists
Biblical archaeology
For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

, however, Israelite culture did not overtake the region, but rather grew out of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite culture.

Judaism



Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 guides its adherents in both practice and belief, and has been called not only a religion, but also a "way of life," which has made drawing a clear distinction between Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish identity rather difficult. Throughout history, in eras and places as diverse as the ancient Hellenic
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 world, in Europe before and after The Age of Enlightenment (see Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

), in Islamic Spain and Portugal
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and the Middle East, India
Indian Jews
The history of the Jews in India reaches back to ancient times.Indian Jews are a religious minority of India. Judaism was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in India in recorded history. The better-established ancient communities have assimilated a large number of local traditions through...

, and China
History of the Jews in China
Jews and Judaism in China have had a long history. Jewish settlers are documented in China as early as the 7th or 8th century CE, but may have arrived during the mid Han Dynasty, or even as early as 231 BCE. Relatively isolated communities developed through the Tang and Song Dynasties Jews and...

, or the contemporary United States and Israel, cultural phenomena have developed that are in some sense characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews or specific communities of Jews with their surroundings, others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to from the religion itself. This phenomenon has led to considerably different Jewish cultures unique to their own communities, each as authentically Jewish as the next.

Who is a Jew?



Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 shares some of the characteristics of a nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

, an ethnicity, a religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, and a culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, making the definition of who is a Jew vary slightly depending on whether a religious or national approach to identity is used. Generally, in modern secular usage, Jews include three groups: people who were born to a Jewish family regardless of whether or not they follow the religion; those who have some Jewish ancestral background or lineage (sometimes including those who do not have strictly matrilineal descent
Matrilineality in Judaism
Matrilineality in Judaism is the view that people born of a Jewish mother are themselves Jewish. The Torah does not explicitly discuss the conferring of Jewish status through matrilineality, and in apparent contrast to this position, the Tanakh provides many examples of Israelite men whose...

); and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognised as a full member of the Jewish community. A Jewish conversion is both a religious act and an expression of association with the Jewish people...

 and therefore are followers of the religion.

Historical definitions of Jewish identity
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

 have traditionally been based on halakhic
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

definitions of matrilineal descent, and halakhic conversions. Historical definitions of who is a Jew date back to the codification of the oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 into the Babylonian Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

. Interpretations of sections of the Tanakh, such as Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 7:1–5, by learned Jewish sages, are used as a warning against intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews because "[the non-Jewish husband] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods of others." Leviticus
Leviticus
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

 24:10 says that the son in a marriage between a Hebrew woman and an Egyptian man is "of the community of Israel." This contrasts with Ezra
Book of Ezra
The Book of Ezra is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Originally combined with the Book of Nehemiah in a single book of Ezra-Nehemiah, the two became separated in the early centuries of the Christian era...

 10:2–3, where Israelites returning from Babylon vow to put aside their gentile wives and their children. Since the Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

, these halakhic interpretations of Jewish identity have been challenged.

At times, conversion has accounted for a substantial part of Jewish population growth. In the first century of the Christian era, for example, the population more than doubled, from four to 8–10 million within the confines of the Roman Empire, in good part as a result of a wave of conversion.

Ethnic divisions




Within the world's Jewish population
Jewish population
Jewish population refers to the number of Jews in the world. Precise figures are difficult to calculate because the definition of "Who is a Jew" is a source of controversy.-Total population:...

 there are distinct ethnic divisions, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 population, and subsequent independent evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

s. An array of Jewish communities were established by Jewish settlers in various places around the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

, often at great distances from one another resulting in effective and often long-term isolation from each other. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments; political
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, cultural
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, natural
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

, and population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

al. Today, manifestation of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including Jewish linguistic diversity
Jewish languages
Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities around the world.Although Hebrew was the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries, by the fifth century BCE, the closely related Aramaic joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea and by the third...

, culinary preferences, liturgical practices, religious interpretations, as well as degrees and sources of genetic admixture.

Jews are often identified as belonging to one of two major groups: the Ashkenazim, or "Germanics" (Ashkenaz meaning "Germany" in Medieval Hebrew
Medieval Hebrew
Medieval Hebrew has many features that distinguish it from older forms of Hebrew. These affect grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and also include a wide variety of new lexical items, which are usually based on older forms....

, denoting their Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

an base), and the Sephardim, or "Hispanics" (Sefarad meaning "Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

/Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

" or "Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

" in Hebrew, denoting their Spanish, and Portuguese, base). The Mizrahim, or "Easterners" (Mizrach being "East" in Hebrew), that is, the diverse collection of Middle Eastern and North African Jews, constitute a third major group, although they are sometimes termed Sephardi for liturgical reasons.

Smaller groups include, but are not restricted to, Indian Jews such as the Bene Israel
Bene Israel
The Bene Israel are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's...

, Bnei Menashe
Bnei Menashe
The Bnei Menashe are a group of more than 9,000 people from India's North-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The claim appeared after a Pentecostalist dreamt in 1951 that his people's pre-Christian religion was Judaism and that...

, Cochin Jews
Cochin Jews
Cochin Jews, also called Malabar Jews , are the oldest group of Jews in India, with roots claimed to date to the time of King Solomon, though historically attested migration dates from the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Historically, they lived in the Kingdom of Cochin in South India, now part of the...

, and Bene Ephraim
Bene Ephraim
The Bene Ephraim, also called Telugu Jews because they speak Telugu, are a small community of Jews living primarily in Kottareddipalem, a village outside Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India, near the delta of the River Krishna....

; the Romaniotes
Romaniotes
The Romaniotes or Romaniots are a Jewish population who have lived in the territory of today's Greece and neighboring areas with large Greek populations for more than 2,000 years. Their languages were Yevanic, a Greek dialect, and Greek. They derived their name from the old name for the people...

 of Greece; the Italian Jews ("Italkim" or "Bené Roma"); the Teimanim from Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 and Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

; various African Jews, including most numerously the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

; and Chinese Jews
History of the Jews in China
Jews and Judaism in China have had a long history. Jewish settlers are documented in China as early as the 7th or 8th century CE, but may have arrived during the mid Han Dynasty, or even as early as 231 BCE. Relatively isolated communities developed through the Tang and Song Dynasties Jews and...

, most notably the Kaifeng Jews
Kaifeng Jews
The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community that has existed in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China, for hundreds of years. Jews in modern China have traditionally called themselves Youtai in Mandarin Chinese which is also the predominant contemporary Chinese language term for...

, as well as various other distinct but now almost extinct communities.

The divisions between all these groups are approximate and their boundaries are not always clear. The Mizrahim for example, are a heterogeneous collection of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

n, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

n, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern Jewish communities that are often as unrelated to each other as they are to any of the earlier mentioned Jewish groups. In modern usage, however, the Mizrahim are sometimes termed Sephardi due to similar styles of liturgy, despite independent development from Sephardim proper. Thus, among Mizrahim there are Iraqi Jews, Egyptian Jews, Berber Jews
Berber Jews
Berber Jews are the Berber-speaking Jewish communities which used to live in certain parts of Atlas mountains in Morocco. Their origins are not clear as one theory builds the case for "Judeo-cized Berbers" while another defends the "Berber-ized Jews" thesis....

, Lebanese Jews, Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews or Kurdistani Jews are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian...

, Libyan Jews, Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern...

, Bukharian Jews, Mountain Jews
Mountain Jews
Highland Jews, Mountain Jews or Kavkazi Jews also known as Juvuro or Juhuro, are Jews of the eastern Caucasus, mainly of Azerbaijan and Dagestan. They are also known as Caucasus Jews, Caucasian Jews, or less commonly East Caucasian Jews, because the majority of these Jews settled the eastern part...

, Georgian Jews
Georgian Jews
The Georgian Jews are from the nation of Georgia, in the Caucasus...

, and various others. The Teimanim from Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 and Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

 are sometimes included, although their style of liturgy is unique and they differ in respect to the admixture found among them to that found in Mizrahim. In addition, there is a differentiation made between Sephardi migrants who established themselves in the Middle East and North Africa after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s and the pre-existing Jewish communities in those regions.

Despite this diversity, Ashkenazi Jews represent the bulk of modern Jewry, with at least 70% of Jews worldwide (and up to 90% prior to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

). As a result of their emigration from Europe, Ashkenazim also represent the overwhelming majority of Jews in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 continents, in countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. In France, emigration of Jews from North Africa has led them to outnumber the Ashkenazim . Only in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 is the Jewish population representative of all groups, a melting pot
Melting pot
The melting pot is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements "melting together" into a harmonious whole with a common culture...

 independent of each group's proportion within the overall world Jewish population.

Jewish languages


Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 is the liturgical language of Judaism (termed l'shon ha-kodesh, "the holy tongue"), the language in which the Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

) were composed, and the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries. By the 5th century BCE, Aramaic, a closely related tongue, joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

. By the third century BCE, Jews of the diaspora were speaking Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

.

For centuries, Jews worldwide have spoken the local or dominant languages of the regions they migrated to, often developing distinctive dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

al forms or branches that became independent languages. Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 is the Judæo-German language developed by Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 who migrated to Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

. Ladino
Judaeo-Spanish
Judaeo-Spanish , in Israel commonly referred to as Ladino, and known locally as Judezmo, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudezmo, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Spaniolit and other names, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish...

 is the Judæo-Spanish language developed by Sephardic
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 Jews who migrated to the Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. Due to many factors, including the impact of the Holocaust on European Jewry, the Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

, and widespread emigration from other Jewish communities around the world, ancient and distinct Jewish languages
Jewish languages
Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities around the world.Although Hebrew was the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries, by the fifth century BCE, the closely related Aramaic joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea and by the third...

 of several communities, including Gruzinic
Gruzinic
Judaeo-Georgian is the traditional language spoken by the Georgian Jews, the ancient Jewish community of the Caucasus nation of Georgia.-Relationship to other languages:...

, Judæo-Arabic
Judeo-Arabic languages
The Judeo-Arabic languages , are a continuum of Arabic dialects spoken by Jews living or formerly living in the Arab world; the term also refers more or less to Classical Arabic written in the Hebrew script, particularly in the Middle Ages. Just as with the rest of the Arab world, Arab Jews had...

, Judæo-Berber
Judeo-Berber language
Judeo-Berber , is a term used primarily for the Berber varieties traditionally spoken by the Jewish communities of certain parts of central and southern Morocco. Speakers emigrated to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. While mutually comprehensible with the Tamazight spoken by most inhabitants of the...

, Krymchak
Krymchak language
The Krymchak language is a Turkic language spoken in Crimea by the Krymchak people. It is often considered to be a Crimean Tatar dialect. The language is sometimes referred to as Judeo-Crimean Tatar....

, Judæo-Malayalam and many others, have largely fallen out of use.

For over sixteen centuries Hebrew was used almost exclusively as a liturgical language, and as the language in which most books had been written on Judaism, with a few speaking only Hebrew on the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. Hebrew was revived as a spoken language by Eliezer ben Yehuda, who arrived in Palestine in 1881. It had not been used as a mother tongue since Tannaic
Tannaim
The Tannaim were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 130 years...

 times. Modern Hebrew is now one of the two official languages of the State of Israel along with Arabic.

The three most commonly spoken languages among Jews today are Hebrew, English and Russian. Some Romance languages, such as French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, are also widely used.

Yiddish has been spoken by more Jews in history than any other language, but it is far less used today, after the Holocaust and the adoption of Hebrew by the Zionist movement, then Israel.

Genetic studies


Genetic
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 studies indicate various lineages found in modern Jewish populations; however, most of these populations share a lineage in common, traceable to an ancient population that underwent geographic branching and subsequent independent evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

s. While DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 tests have demonstrated inter-marriage in all of the various Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions refers to a number of distinct communities within the world's ethnically Jewish population. Although considered one single self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinct ethnic divisions among Jews, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an...

 over the last 3,000 years, it was substantially less than in other populations. The findings lend support to traditional Jewish accounts accrediting their founding to exiled Israelite populations, and counters theories that many or most of the world's Jewish populations were founded entirely by local populations that adopted the Jewish religion, devoid of any actual Israelite genetic input.

DNA analysis further determined that modern Jews of the priesthood tribe—"Kohanim
Kohen
A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

"—share an ancestor dating back about 3,000 years. This result is consistent for all Jewish populations around the world. The researchers estimated that the most recent common ancestor
Most recent common ancestor
In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

 of modern Kohanim lived between 1000 BCE (roughly the time of the Biblical Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

) and 586 BCE, when the Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns destroyed the First Temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

. They found similar results analyzing DNA from Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. The scientists estimated the date of the original priest based on genetic mutations, which indicated that the priest lived roughly 106 generations ago, between 2,650 and 3,180 years ago depending whether one counts a generation as 25 or 30 years. These Jews belong to the haplotypes J1e and J2a. However, more recent research has shown that many ethnic groups in the Middle East and Mediterranean area also share this genetic profile.

Although individual and groups of converts to Judaism have historically been absorbed into contemporary Jewish populations, it is unlikely that they formed a large percentage of the ancestors of modern Jewish groups, and much less that they represented their genesis as Jewish communities.

Biologist Robert Pollack
Robert Pollack (biologist)
Dr. Robert Pollack is an American biologist who studies the intersections between science and religion. He currently works at Columbia University, where he serves as the director of the university's Center for the Study of Science and Religion and lectures for its Center for Psychoanalytic Training...

 stated in 2003 that one cannot determine the biological "Jewishness
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

" of an individual because "there are no DNA sequences common to all Jews and absent from all non-Jews". A 2009 study was able to genetically identify individuals with full or partial Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

Male lineages: Y chromosomal DNA


A study published by the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 found that "the paternal gene
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population", and suggested that "most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora". Researchers expressed surprise at the remarkable genetic uniformity they found among modern Jews, no matter where the diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 has become dispersed around the world.

Other Y-chromosome findings show that the world's Jewish communities are closely related to Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s, Syrians and Palestinians
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

. Skorecki and colleague wrote that "the extremely close affinity of Jewish and non-Jewish Middle Eastern populations observed ... supports the hypothesis of a common Middle Eastern origin". According to another study of the same year, more than 70% of Jewish men and half of the Arab men (inhabitants of Israel and the territories only) whose DNA was studied inherited their Y-chromosomes from the same paternal ancestors who lived in the region within the last few thousand years. The results are consistent with the Biblical account of Jews and Arabs having a common ancestor. About two-thirds of Israeli Arabs and Arabs in the territories and a similar proportion of Israeli Jews are the descendants of at least three common ancestors who lived in the Middle East in the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period. However, the Palestinian Arab clade includes two Arab modal haplotypes which are found at only very low frequency among Jews, reflecting divergence and/or large scale admixture from non-local populations to the Palestinians.

A study of haplotypes of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al. found that the Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 of some Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male genetic admixture
Genetic admixture
Genetic admixture occurs when individuals from two or more previously separated populations begin interbreeding. Admixture results in the introduction of new genetic lineages into a population. It has been known to slow local adaptation by introducing foreign, unadapted genotypes...

 in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with "relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim," and a total admixture estimate "very similar to Motulsky's average estimate of 12.5%." This supported the finding that "Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors." However, when all haplotypes were included in the analysis, m (the admixture percentage) increased to 23% ± 7%. In addition, of the Jewish populations in this cluster, the Ashkenazim were closest to South European populations, specifically the Greeks.

In Jewish populations, Haplogroup J1 (defined by the 267 marker) constitutes 30% of the Yemenite Jews 20.0% of the Ashkenazim results and 12% of the Sephardic results.
However, J1 is most frequent in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 (76%),Yemen
45/62 = 72.6% J1-M267
Qatar 42/72 = 58.3% J1-M267 Saudi (64%)
Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 (58%). J1 is generally frequent amongst Negev Bedouins (62%). It is also very common among other Arabs such as those of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, i.e. Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 (38.4%), Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (30%), Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 (25%).
In Europe, higher frequencies have been reported in the central Adriatic regions of Italy: Gargano
Gargano
Gargano is a historical and geographical Italian sub-region situated in Apulia, consisting of a wide isolated mountain massif made of highland and several peaks and forming the backbone of the Gargano Promontory projecting into the Adriatic Sea. The high point is Monte Calvo at . Most of the upland...

 (17.2%), Pescara
Pescara
Pescara is the capital city of the Province of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. As of January 1, 2007 it was the most populated city within Abruzzo at 123,059 residents, 400,000 with the surrounding metropolitan area...

 (15%), in the Mediterranean Paola (11.1%) and in South Sicilian
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 Ragusa
Ragusa, Italy
Ragusa is a city and comune in southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Ragusa, on the island of Sicily, with around 75,000 inhabitants. It is built on a wide limestone hill between two deep valleys, Cava San Leonardo and Cava Santa Domenica...

 (10.7%).
Fairly high frequencies have also been reported in other nearby Mediterranean areas: Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 (8.3%),Crete 16 out of 193
Greece 9 out of 171 Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 (7.8%), Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 (6.2%), Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 (5.3%).

Haplogroup J2 which is found in the Sephardic Jews (29%) and Ashkenazi Jews (23%), or 19%. is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

, the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the Mediterranean littoral, the Iranian plateau
Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.
More specifically, it is found in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and the eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, and more frequently in Iraqis 29.7%, Lebanese
Lebanese people
The Lebanese people are a nation and ethnic group of Levantine people originating in what is today the country of Lebanon, including those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state....

 25%, Palestinians 16.8%, Syrians
Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern...

 22.5%, Kurds 28.4%, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 15.92%, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 14.3%, Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

 10–15%, UAE 10.4%, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 9.7%, in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, and in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Female lineages: Mitochondrial DNA


Before 2006, geneticists largely attributed the genesis of most of the world's Jewish populations
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions refers to a number of distinct communities within the world's ethnically Jewish population. Although considered one single self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinct ethnic divisions among Jews, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an...

 to founding acts by males who migrated from the Middle East and "by the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism." , though no genetic relation was found between Jewish and non Jewish female lineages. However, more recent findings of studies of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

, at least in Ashkenazi Jews, has led to a review of this archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

. This research has suggested that, in addition to Israelite male, significant female founder ancestry might also derive from the Middle East-with 40% of Ashkenazim descended from four women lived about 1000–1500 years ago in the Middle East. In addition, Behar (2006) suggested that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from about 150 women, most of those were probably of Middle Eastern origin. Approximately 32% of people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry belong to the mtDNA haplogroup K. This high percentage points to a genetic bottleneck occurring some 100 generations ago.

Research in 2008 found significant founder effects in many non-Asheknazi Jewish populations. In Belmonte
Belmonte Jews
The history of the Jews in Belmonte, Portugal, reaches back over six hundred years.-Belmonte marranos:The marranos that have been living in Belmonte are sometimes referred to as the "Belmonte Jews." They are a community that has survived in secrecy for hundreds of years by maintaining a tradition...

, Azerbaijani
Azerbaijani Jews
Azerbaijani Jews are Jews who live in Azerbaijan.-Distribution:...

, Georgian
Georgian Jews
The Georgian Jews are from the nation of Georgia, in the Caucasus...

, Bene Israel
Bene Israel
The Bene Israel are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's...

 and Libyan Jewish communities "a single mother was sufficient to explain at least 40% of their present-day mtDNA variation". In addition, "the Cochin
Cochin Jews
Cochin Jews, also called Malabar Jews , are the oldest group of Jews in India, with roots claimed to date to the time of King Solomon, though historically attested migration dates from the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Historically, they lived in the Kingdom of Cochin in South India, now part of the...

 and Tunisian Jewish communities show an attenuated pattern with two founding mothers explaining >30% of the variation." In contrast, Bulgarian, Turkish, Moroccan and Ethiopian
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

 Jews were heterogeneous with no evidence "for a narrow founder effect or depletion of mtDNA variation attributable to drift". The authors noted that "the first three of these communities were established following the Spanish expulsion and/or received large influxes of individuals from the Iberian Peninsula and high variation presently observed, probably reflects high overall mtDNA diversity among Jews of Spanish descent. Likewise, the mtDNA pool of Ethiopian Jews reflects the rich maternal lineage variety of East Africa." Jewish communities from Iraq, Iran
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, and Yemen
Yemenite Jews
Yemenite Jews are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen . Between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen's Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet...

 showed a "third and intermediate pattern... consistent with a founding event, but not a narrow one".

In this and other studies Yemenite Jews differ from other Mizrahim, as well as from Ashkenazim, in the proportion of sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

n gene types which have entered their gene pool
Gene pool
In population genetics, a gene pool is the complete set of unique alleles in a species or population.- Description :A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection...

s. African-specific Hg L(xM,N) lineages were found only in Yemenite and Ethiopian Jewish populations. Among Yemenites
Yemenite Jews
Yemenite Jews are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen . Between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen's Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet...

, the average stands at 35% lineages within the past 3,000 years.

Genome-wide association and linkage studies


In genetic epidemiology
Genetic epidemiology
Genetic epidemiology is the study of the role of genetic factors in determining health and disease in families and in populations, and the interplay of such genetic factors with environmental factors...

, a genome-wide association study
Genome-wide association study
In genetic epidemiology, a genome-wide association study , also known as whole genome association study , is an examination of many common genetic variants in different individuals to see if any variant is associated with a trait...

 (GWA study, or GWAS) is an examination of all or most of the genes (the genome) of different individuals of a particular species to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual. These techniques were originally designed for epidemiological uses, to identify genetic associations with observable traits.

A 2006 study by Seldin, et al. used over five thousand autosomal SNPs to demonstrate European genetic substructure amongst the Ashkenazi. The results showed "a consistent and reproducible distinction between 'northern' and 'southern' European population groups". Most northern, central, and eastern Europeans (Finns, Swedes, English, Irish, Germans, and Ukrainians) showed >90% in the 'northern' population group, while most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards) showed >85% in the 'southern' group. Both Ashkenazi Jews as well as Sephardic Jews showed >85% membership in the "southern" group. Referring to the Jews clustering with southern Europeans, the authors state the results were "consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups".

A 2007 study by Bauchet, et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews were most closely clustered with Arabic North African populations when compared to Global population, and in the European structure analysis, they share similarities only with Greeks and Southern Italians, reflecting their east Mediterranean origins.

A 2010 study on Jewish ancestry by Atzmon-Ostrer et al. stated "Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry.", as both groups - the Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews shared common ancestors in the Middle East about 2500 years ago. The study examines genetic markers spread across the entire genome and shows that the Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships and that each of the Jewish groups in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) has its own genetic signature but is more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their non Jewish fellow countrymen. Atzmon's team found that the SNP markers in genetic segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews. Results of the analysis also tally with biblical accounts of the fate of the Jews. Using their DNA analysis, the authors traced the ancestors of all Jews to Persia and Babylon, areas that now form part of Iran and Iraq. The study also found that with respect to non-Jewish European groups, the population most closely related to Ashkenazi Jews are modern-day Italians. The study speculated that the genetic-similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians may be due to inter-marriage and conversions in the time of the Roman Empire. It was also found that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins

A 2010 study by Bray et al, using SNP
SNP array
In molecular biology and bioinformatics, a SNP array is a type of DNA microarray which is used to detect polymorphisms within a population. A single nucleotide polymorphism , a variation at a single site in DNA, is the most frequent type of variation in the genome. For example, there are around 10...

 microarray
DNA microarray
A DNA microarray is a collection of microscopic DNA spots attached to a solid surface. Scientists use DNA microarrays to measure the expression levels of large numbers of genes simultaneously or to genotype multiple regions of a genome...

 techniques and linkage analysis, estimated that 35 to 55 percent of the modern Ashkenazi genome is specifically traceable to Europe, and that European "admixture is considerably higher than previous estimates by studies that used the Y chromosome". The study assumed Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and Palestinian Arabs populations to represent the reference to world Jewry ancestor genome. With this reference point, the linkage disequilibrium in the Ashkenazi Jewish population was interpreted as "matches signs of interbreeding or 'admixture' between Middle Eastern and European populations". In their press release, Bray stated: "We were surprised to find evidence that Ashkenazi Jews have higher heterozygosity than Europeans, contradicting the widely-held presumption that they have been a largely isolated group". Nevertheless, the authors indicated possible Achilles heels for their conclusions. These were, firstly, that their calculations might have "overestimated the level of admixture" in case that the true Jewish ancestor was genetically closer to Southern Europeans than Druze and Palestinian Arabs are and, secondly, predicted that using the non Ashkenazi Jewish Diaspora populations as reference for world Jewry ancestor genome will "underestimate the level of admixture". This would be because they find it reasonable that the non-Ashkenazi Jewish Diaspora has also "undergone the similar admixture".

Population centres


There are an estimated 13–14 million Jews worldwide. The table below lists countries with significant populations. Please note that these populations represent low-end estimates of the worldwide Jewish population, accounting for around 0.2% of the world's population
World population
The world population is the total number of living humans on the planet Earth. As of today, it is estimated to be  billion by the United States Census Bureau...

.
Country or Region Jewish population Total Population % Jewish Notes
Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

5,413,800 7,255,400 74.6%
United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

5,275,000 312,000,000 1.69%
Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

1,455,900 809,344,000 0.2%
France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

483,500 62,670,000 0.8%
Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

375,000 33,890,000 1.1%
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

292,000 62,129,000 0.5%
Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

205,000 140,367,000 0.1%
Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

182,300 40,666,000 0.4%
Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

119,000 82,057,000 0.1%
Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

107,500 21,512,000 0.5%
Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

95,600 195,423,000 0.05%
Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

71,500 45,433,000 0.2%
South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

70,800 50,492,000 0.1%
Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

48,600 9,973,000 0.5%
Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

39,400 110,645,000 0.04%
Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 (excl. Israel)
37,800 4,078,933,900 0.001%
Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

30,300 10,031,000 0.3%
Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

28,400 60,098,000 0.05%
Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

20,000 38,163,895 0.05%
Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

17,600 75,705,000 0.02%
Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

10,400 75,078,000 0.01%
Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

9,700 21,190,000 0.05%
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

7,500 4,303,000 0.2%
Total 13,428,300 6,900,047,000 0.2%


State of Israel



Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, the Jewish nation-state, is the only country in which Jews make up a majority of the citizens. Israel was established as an independent democratic and Jewish state on May 14, 1948. Of the 120 members in its parliament, the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, currently, 12 members of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

, most representing Arab political parties and one of Israel's Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 judges is a Palestinian Arab
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

.

Between 1948 and 1958, the Jewish population rose from 800,000 to two million. Currently, Jews account for 75.8% of the Israeli population, or 5.4 million people.
The early years of the state of Israel were marked by the mass immigration
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 of Holocaust survivors and Jews fleeing Arab lands. Israel also has a large population of Ethiopian Jews, many of whom were airlifted to Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Between 1974 and 1979 nearly 227,258 immigrants arrived in Israel, about half being from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This period also saw an increase in immigration to Israel
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 from Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

, Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, and the United States

A trickle of immigrants from other communities has also arrived, including Indian Jews
Indian Jews
The history of the Jews in India reaches back to ancient times.Indian Jews are a religious minority of India. Judaism was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in India in recorded history. The better-established ancient communities have assimilated a large number of local traditions through...

 and others, as well as some descendants of Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 Holocaust survivors who had settled in countries such as the United States, Argentina, Australia and South Africa. Some Jews have emigrated from Israel elsewhere, due to economic problems or disillusionment with political conditions and the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict. Jewish Israeli emigrants are known as yordim.

Diaspora (outside Israel)



The waves of immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 and elsewhere at the turn of the 19th century, the founding of Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 and later events, including pogroms in Russia, the massacre of European Jewry during the Holocaust, and the founding of the state of Israel, with the subsequent Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

, all resulted in substantial shifts in the population centers of world Jewry by the end of the 20th century.


Currently, the largest Jewish community in the world is located in the United States, with 5.3 million to 6.4 million Jews by various estimates. Elsewhere in the Americas, there are also large Jewish populations in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and smaller populations in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, and several other countries (see History of the Jews in Latin America
History of the Jews in Latin America
The history of the Jews in Latin America dates, according to some interpretations, back to Christopher Columbus and his first cross-Atlantic voyage on August 3, 1492, when he left Spain and eventually discovered the New World...

).

Western Europe's largest Jewish community can be found in France, home to 490,000 Jews, the majority of whom are immigrants or refugees from North African Arab countries such as Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 (or their descendants). There are 295,000 Jews in the United Kingdom
British Jews
British Jews are Jews who live in, or are citizens of, the United Kingdom. In the 2001 Census, 266,740 people listed their religion as Jewish. The UK is home to the second largest Jewish population in Europe, and has the fifth largest Jewish community worldwide...

. In Eastern Europe, there are anywhere from 350,000 to one million Jews living in the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, but exact figures are difficult to establish. The fastest-growing Jewish community in the world, outside Israel, is the one in Germany, especially in Berlin, its capital. Tens of thousands of Jews from the former Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 have settled in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

.

The Arab countries
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 were home to around 900,000 Jews in 1945. Fueled by anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism
Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionistic views or opposition to the state of Israel. The term is used to describe various religious, moral and political points of view in opposition to these, but their diversity of motivation and expression is sufficiently different that "anti-Zionism" cannot be...

 after the founding of Israel, systematic persecution caused almost all of these Jews to flee to Israel, North America, and Europe in the 1950s (see Jewish exodus from Arab lands
Jewish exodus from Arab lands
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries was a mass departure, flight and expulsion of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Muslim countries, from 1948 until the early 1970s...

). Today, around 8,000 Jews remain in all Arab nations combined.

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 is home to around 10,800 Jews, down from a population of 100,000 Jews before the 1979 revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

. After the revolution some of the Iranian Jews emigrated to Israel or Europe but most of them emigrated (with their non-Jewish Iranian compatriots) to the United States (especially Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, where the principal community is called "Tehrangeles
Tehrangeles
Tehrangeles is a portmanteau deriving from the combination of Tehran, the capital of Iran, and Los Angeles. It is used when referring to the large number of former Iranian nationals and their descendants residing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area; it is the largest such population outside of...

").

Outside Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and the rest of Asia, there are significant Jewish populations in Australia and South Africa
Jewish population of South Africa
According to the 2001 census there are 75,745 Jews in South Africa. Their distribution according to the municipal boundaries are as follows:...

.

Assimilation


Since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks, a proportion of Jews have assimilated into the wider non-Jewish society around them, by either choice or force, ceasing to practice Judaism and losing their Jewish identity
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

. Assimilation took place in all areas, and during all time periods, with some Jewish communities, for example the Kaifeng Jews
Kaifeng Jews
The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community that has existed in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China, for hundreds of years. Jews in modern China have traditionally called themselves Youtai in Mandarin Chinese which is also the predominant contemporary Chinese language term for...

 of China, disappearing entirely. The advent of the Jewish Enlightenment of the 18th century (see Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

) and the subsequent emancipation of the Jewish populations
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 of Europe and America in the 19th century, accelerated the situation, encouraging Jews to increasingly participate in, and become part of, secular society. The result has been a growing trend of assimilation, as Jews marry non-Jewish spouses and stop participating in the Jewish community.

Rates of interreligious marriage
Interreligious marriage
Interfaith marriage, traditionally called mixed marriage, is marriage between partners professing different religions. Some religious doctrines prohibit interfaith marriage, and while others do allow it, most restrict it...

 vary widely: In the United States, they are just under 50%, in the United Kingdom, around 53%, in France, around 30%, and in Australia and Mexico, as low as 10%. In the United States, only about a third of children from intermarriages affiliate themselves with Jewish religious practice. The result is that most countries in the Diaspora
Jewish diaspora
The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

 have steady or slightly declining religiously Jewish populations as Jews continue to assimilate into the countries in which they live.

War and persecution


Related articles: Antisemitism, Islam and antisemitism, History of antisemitism, New antisemitism


The Jewish people and Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 have experienced various persecution
Persecution
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation,...

s throughout Jewish history
Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

. During late Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 and the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (in its later phases known as the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

) repeatedly repressed the Jewish population, first by ejecting them from their homelands during the pagan Roman era and later by officially establishing them as second-class citizens during the Christian Roman era.

According to James Carroll
James P. Carroll
James Carroll is a noted author, historian and journalist and Roman Catholic dissident.-Youth, education, and service as a priest:...

, "Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million."

Later in medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 Western Europe, further persecutions of Jews in the name of Christianity occurred, notably during the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

—when Jews all over Germany were massacred—and a series of expulsions from England, Germany, France, and, in the largest expulsion of all, Spain and Portugal after the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 (the Catholic Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

), where both unbaptized Sephardic Jews and the ruling Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 were expelled.

In the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

s. In the 19th and (before the end of World War II) 20th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church adhered to a distinction between "good antisemitism" and "bad antisemitism". The "bad" kind promoted hatred of Jews because of their descent. This was considered un-Christian because the Christian message was intended for all of humanity regardless of ethnicity; anyone could become a Christian. The "good" kind criticized alleged Jewish conspiracies to control newspapers, banks, and other institutions, to care only about accumulation of wealth, etc.

Islam and Judaism
Islam and Judaism
Islamic–Jewish relations started in the 7th century CE with the origin and spread of Islam in the Arabian peninsula. The two religions share similar values, guidelines, and principles. Islam also incorporates Jewish history as a part of its own. Muslims regard the Children of Israel as an important...

 have a complex relationship. Traditionally Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religions and to administer their internal affairs, but subject to certain conditions. They had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to the Islamic state. Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities
Disabilities (Jewish)
Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. They included provisions requiring Jews to wear specific and identifying clothing such as the Jewish hat and the yellow badge, restricting Jews to certain cities and towns or in certain parts of towns , and...

 such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. Many of the disabilities were highly symbolic. The one described by Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis
Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

 as "most degrading" was the requirement of distinctive clothing
Yellow badge
The yellow badge , also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with antisemitism...

, not found in the Qur'an or hadith but invented in early medieval
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

; its enforcement was highly erratic. On the other hand, Jews rarely faced martyrdom or exile, or forced compulsion to change their religion, and they were mostly free in their choice of residence and profession.

Notable exceptions include the massacre of Jews and/or forcible conversion of some Jews by the rulers of the Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

 dynasty in Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 in the 12th century, as well as in Islamic Persia
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

, and the forced confinement of Morrocan Jews to walled quarters known as mellah
Mellah
A mellah is a walled Jewish quarter of a city in Morocco, an analogue of the European ghetto...

s beginning from the 15th century and especially in the early 19th century. In modern times, it has become commonplace for standard antisemitic themes to be conflated with anti-Zionist publications and pronouncements of Islamic movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Turkish Refah Partisi."
Throughout history, many rulers, empires and nations have oppressed their Jewish populations or sought to eliminate them entirely. Methods employed ranged from expulsion to outright genocide; within nations, often the threat of these extreme methods was sufficient to silence dissent. The history of antisemitism includes the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 which resulted in the massacre of Jews; the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

 (led by Torquemada
Tomás de Torquemada
Tomás de Torquemada, O.P. was a fifteenth century Spanish Dominican friar, first Inquisitor General of Spain, and confessor to Isabella I of Castile. He was described by the Spanish chronicler Sebastián de Olmedo as "The hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the...

) and the Portuguese Inquisition
Portuguese Inquisition
The Portuguese Inquisition was formally established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of the King of Portugal, João III. Manuel I had asked for the installation of the Inquisition in 1515 to fulfill the commitment of marriage with Maria of Aragon, but it was only after his death that the Pope...

, with their persecution and autos-da-fé
Auto-da-fé
An auto-da-fé was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed...

against the New Christians and Marrano
Marrano
Marranos were Jews living in the Iberian peninsula who converted to Christianity rather than be expelled but continued to observe rabbinic Judaism in secret...

 Jews; the Bohdan Chmielnicki Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 massacres in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

; the Pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s backed by the Russian Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

s; as well as expulsions from Spain, Portugal, England, France, Germany, and other countries in which the Jews had settled.

The persecution reached a peak in Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

, which led to the Holocaust and the slaughter of approximately 6 million Jews from 1939 to 1945. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics
American Journal of Human Genetics
The American Journal of Human Genetics is a medical journal in the field of human genetics. Since its inception in 1948 by the American Society of Human Genetics, the journal has provided a record of research and review relating to heredity in humans and to the application of genetic principles in...

 19.8% of the modern Iberian
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 population has Sephardic Jewish ancestry, indicating that the number of converso
Converso
A converso and its feminine form conversa was a Jew or Muslim—or a descendant of Jews or Muslims—who converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. Mass conversions once took place under significant government pressure...

s may have been much higher than originally thought.

The most notable modern day persecution of Jews remains the Holocaust — the state-led systematic persecution
Persecution
Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation,...

 and genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of European Jews (and certain communities of North African Jews in European controlled North Africa) and other minority group
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

s of Europe during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and its collaborators. The persecution and genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 were accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

 was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II.

Concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 were established in which inmates were used as slave labour until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. Jews and Roma were crammed into ghettos before being transported hundreds of miles by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were killed in gas chambers. Virtually every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the mass murder, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal nation."

Migrations




Throughout Jewish history, Jews have repeatedly been directly or indirectly expelled from both their original homeland and the areas in which they have resided. This experience as refugees
Jewish refugees
In the course of history, Jewish populations have been expelled or ostracised by various local authorities and have sought asylum from antisemitism numerous times...

 has shaped Jewish identity
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

 and religious practice in many ways, and is thus a major element of Jewish history. The incomplete list of major and other noteworthy migrations
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

 that follows includes numerous instances of expulsion or departure under duress:
  • The patriarch Abraham
    Abraham
    Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

     was a migrant to the land of Canaan
    Canaan
    Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

     from Ur
    Ur
    Ur was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate...

     of the Chaldees
    Chaldea
    Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

     after an attempt on his life by King Nimrod
    Nimrod
    Nimrod means "Hunter"; was a Biblical Mesopotamian king mentioned in the Table of Nations; an eponym for the city of Nimrud.Nimrod can also refer to any of the following:*Nimród Antal, a director...

    .
  • The Children of Israel experienced the Exodus
    The Exodus
    The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

     (meaning "departure" or "exit" in Greek) from ancient Egypt
    Ancient Egypt
    Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

    , as recorded in the Book of Exodus.
  • The Kingdom of Israel was sent into permanent exile by Assyria
    Assyria
    Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

    , initially to the Upper Mesopotamian provinces of the Assyrian Empire, from whence they scattered all over the world (or at least to unknown locations).
  • The Kingdom of Judah
    Kingdom of Judah
    The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

     was exiled by Babylon
    Babylon
    Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

    ia, then returned to Judea
    Judea
    Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

     by Cyrus the Great
    Cyrus the Great
    Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

     of the Persian Achaemenid Empire
    Achaemenid Empire
    The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

    , and then many were exiled again by the Roman Empire
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

    .
  • The 2,000 year dispersion of the Jewish diaspora
    Jewish diaspora
    The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

     beginning under the Roman Empire
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

    , as Jews were spread throughout the Roman world and, driven from land to land, and settled wherever they could live freely enough to practice their religion. Over the course of the diaspora the center of Jewish life moved from Babylonia
    History of the Jews in Iraq
    The history of the Jews in Iraq is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BCE. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities....

     to the Iberian Peninsula
    Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula
    The golden age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.The nature and length of this...

     to Poland
    History of the Jews in Poland
    The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the...

     to the United States and, as a result of Zionism, to Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    .
  • Many expulsions during the Middle Ages and Enlightenment in Europe, including: 1290, 16,000 Jews were expelled from England, see the (Statute of Jewry); in 1396, 100,000 from France; in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of these Jews settled in Eastern Europe
    Eastern Europe
    Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

    , especially Poland.
  • Following the Spanish Inquisition
    Spanish Inquisition
    The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

     in 1492, the Spanish population of around 200,000 Sephardic Jews were expelled by the Spanish crown and Catholic church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

    , followed by expulsions in 1493 in Sicily (37,000 Jews) and Portugal in 1496. The expelled Jews fled mainly to the Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

    , the Netherlands, and North Africa
    North Africa
    North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

    , others migrating to Southern Europe and the Middle East.
  • During the 19th century, France's policies of equal citizenship regardless of religion led to the immigration of Jews (especially from Eastern and Central Europe).
  • The arrival of millions of Jews in the New World
    New World
    The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

    , including immigration of over two million Eastern European Jews to the United States from 1880–1925, see History of the Jews in the United States
    History of the Jews in the United States
    The history of the Jews in the United States , has been part of the American national fabric since colonial times.Until the 1830s the Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina was the most numerous in North America. With the large scale immigration of Jews from Germany in the 19th century,...

     and History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
    History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
    The vast territories of the Russian Empire at one time hosted the largest populations of Jews in the diaspora. Within these territories the Jewish community flourished and developed many of modern Judaism's most distinctive theological and cultural traditions, while also facing periods of...

    .
  • The Pogroms in Eastern Europe, the rise of modern antisemitism, the Holocaust, and the rise of Arab nationalism
    Arab nationalism
    Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

     all served to fuel the movements and migrations of huge segments of Jewry from land to land and continent to continent, until they arrived back in large numbers at their original historical homeland in Israel.
  • The Islamic Revolution of Iran
    Iranian Revolution
    The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

     forced many Iranian Jews
    Persian Jews
    Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

     to flee Iran. Most found refuge in the US (particularly Los Angeles, CA) and Israel. Smaller communities of Persian Jews
    Persian Jews
    Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

     exist in Canada and Western Europe.
  • When the Soviet Union collapsed, many of the Jews in the affected territory (who had been refusenik
    Refusenik
    Refusenik originally referred to citizens of the former Soviet Union who were refused permission to emigrate.Refusenik or refusnik may also refer to:*An Israeli conscientious objector, see Refusal to serve in the Israeli military...

    s) were suddenly allowed to leave. This produced a wave of migration to Israel in the early 1990s.

Growth


Israel is the only country with a consistently growing Jewish population due to natural population increase, though the Jewish populations of other countries in Europe and North America have recently increased due to immigration. In the Diaspora, in almost every country the Jewish population in general is either declining or steady, but Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 and Haredi Jewish communities, whose members often shun birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

 for religious reasons, have experienced rapid population growth.

Orthodox and Conservative Judaism discourage proselytism to non-Jews, but many Jewish groups have tried to reach out to the assimilated Jewish communities of the Diaspora in order for them to reconnect to their Jewish roots. Additionally, while in principle Reform Judaism favors seeking new members for the faith, this position has not translated into active proselytism, instead taking the form of an effort to reach out to non-Jewish spouses of intermarried couples.

There is also a trend of Orthodox movements pursuing secular Jews in order to give them a stronger Jewish identity
Jewish identity
Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

 so there is less chance of intermarriage. As a result of the efforts by these and other Jewish groups over the past 25 years, there has been a trend of secular Jews becoming more religiously observant, known as the Baal Teshuva
Baal teshuva
Baal teshuva or ba'al teshuvah , sometimes abbreviated to BT, is a term referring to a Jew who turns to embrace Orthodox Judaism. Baal teshuva literally means, "repentant", i.e., one who has repented or "returned" to God...

movement, though the demographic implications of the trend are unknown. Additionally, there is also a growing movement of Jews by Choice by gentiles who make the decision to head in the direction of becoming Jews.

Jewish leadership


There is no single governing body for the Jewish community, nor a single authority with responsibility for religious doctrine. Instead, a variety of secular and religious institutions at the local, national, and international levels lead various parts of the Jewish community on a variety of issues.

Notable Jews


Jews have made contributions in a broad range of human endeavors, including the sciences, arts, politics, and business.
The number of Jewish Nobel prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 winners is far out of proportion to the percentage of Jews in the world's population.

See also


More complete guides to topics related to the Jews are available from the guide at the top or bottom of this page. Some topics of interest include:

  • Antisemitism
  • Ashkenazi Jews
    Ashkenazi Jews
    Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...


:Category: Jewish ethnic groups
:Category: Jewish history by country
  • Interfaith marriage in Judaism
    Interfaith marriage in Judaism
    Interfaith marriage in Judaism was historically looked upon with very strong disfavour by Jewish leaders, and it remains a controversial issue amongst Jewish leaders today. In the Talmud, interfaith marriage is completely prohibited, although the definition of interfaith is not so simply expressed...

  • Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    • Basic Laws of Israel
      Basic Laws of Israel
      The Basic Laws of Israel are a key component of Israel's constitutional law. These laws deal with the formation and role of the principal state's institutions, and the relations between the state's authorities. Some of them also protect civil rights...

    • Law of Return
      Law of Return
      The Law of Return is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship...

    • Politics of Israel
      Politics of Israel
      The Israeli system of government is based on parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of government and leader of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Knesset. The Judiciary is independent of the executive...


  • Jewish diaspora
    Jewish diaspora
    The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the Galut גלות , or 'exile', of the Jews from the region of the Kingdom of Judah and Roman Iudaea and later emigration from wider Eretz Israel....

  • Jewish identity
    Jewish identity
    Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under the broader definition, the Jewish identity does not depend on whether or not a person is regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or legal, or...

  • Jewish languages
    Jewish languages
    Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities around the world.Although Hebrew was the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries, by the fifth century BCE, the closely related Aramaic joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea and by the third...

  • Jewish population
    Jewish population
    Jewish population refers to the number of Jews in the world. Precise figures are difficult to calculate because the definition of "Who is a Jew" is a source of controversy.-Total population:...

  • Jewish population by cities and city areas
    Jewish population by cities and city areas
    The lists below gives Jewish population by metropolitan area world wide, Jewish population outside Israel per cities in percentages, and Jewish population including Israel by number.-Jewish population by metropolitan area:...

  • Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

  • Lists of Jews
  • Mizrahi Jews
    Mizrahi Jews
    Mizrahi Jews or Mizrahiyim, , also referred to as Adot HaMizrach are Jews descended from the Jewish communities of the Middle East, North Africa and the Caucasus...

  • Pogrom
    Pogrom
    A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

  • Sephardi Jews
    Sephardi Jews
    Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...



External links



Secular organizations


Religious organizations


  • Aish HaTorah (Orthodox
    Orthodox Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

    )
  • ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal (Renewal
    Jewish Renewal
    Jewish Renewal , is a recent movement in Judaism which endeavors to reinvigorate modern Judaism with mystical, Hasidic, musical and meditative practices...

    )
  • American Sephardi Federation (Sephardic
    Sephardi Jews
    Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

    )
  • Chabad Lubavitch (Chabad
    Chabad
    Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

    )
  • Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

    )

  • The Karaite Korner (Karaite
    Karaite Judaism
    Karaite Judaism or Karaism is a Jewish movement characterized by the recognition of the Tanakh alone as its supreme legal authority in Halakhah, as well as in theology...

    )
  • The Orthodox Union (Orthodox
    Orthodox Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

    )
  • Society for Humanistic Judaism (Humanistic
    Humanistic Judaism
    Humanistic Judaism is a movement in Judaism that offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish...

    )
  • Union for Reform Judaism (Reform
    Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

    )
  • The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (Conservative
    Conservative Judaism
    Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

    )


Zionist organizations