Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים
ISO 259-2International Organization for Standardization, ISO 259 is a series of international standards for the romanization of Hebrew, romanization of Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew characters into Latin alphabet, Latin characters, dating to 1984, with updated ISO ...
, Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an
ethnoreligious group An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group whose members are also unified by a common Religion, religious background. Furthermore, the term ethno-religious group, along with ethno-regional and Ethnolinguistic group, eth ...
and a
nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully ...
originating from the
Israelites The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchi ...
Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is the age of the Israelites""The people of the Kingdom of Israel and the ethnic and religious group known as the Jewish people that descended from them have been subjected to a number of forced migrations in their history" and
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' ( / , Modern Hebrew, Modern: ' / ', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian: ' / '; ISO 259-3: ' / ') and ''Hebrew people'' are mostly taken as synonymous with the ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking Israelites, es ...
of historical
Israel and Judah The Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were two related Israelites, Israelite kingdoms from the Archaeology of Israel#Iron Age/Israelite period, Iron Age period of the ancient Southern History of the ancient ...
. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, "Historically, the religious and ethnic dimensions of Jewish identity have been closely interwoven. In fact, so closely bound are they, that the traditional Jewish lexicon hardly distinguishes between the two concepts. Jewish religious practice, by definition, was observed exclusively by the Jewish people, and notions of Jewish peoplehood, nation, and community were suffused with faith in the Jewish God, the practice of Jewish (religious) law and the study of ancient religious texts" "This identification in the Jewish attitude between the ethnic group and religious identity is so close that the reception into this religion of members not belonging to its ethnic group has become impossible." as
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
is the
ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universalizing religion, universal religions, such as Christianity or Isla ...
of the Jewish people, although its observance varies from strict to none. "A person born Jewish who refutes Judaism may continue to assert a Jewish identity, and if he or she does not convert to another religion, even religious Jews will recognize the person as a Jew" Jews originated as an ethnic and religious group in the
Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (East Thrace, partly in So ...

Middle East
during the second millennium BCE, in the part of the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the G ...

known as the Land of Israel. The Merneptah Stele appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel somewhere in as far back as the 13th century BCE (Late Bronze Age).K. L. Noll (2012)
''Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: A Textbook on History and Religion,''
A&C Black, rev.ed. pp. 137ff.
Thomas L. Thompson (2000
''Early History of the Israelite People: From the Written & Archaeological Sources,''
Brill, pp. 275–76: 'They are rather a very specific group among the population of Palestine which bears a name that occurs here for the first time that at a much later stage in Palestine's history bears a substantially different signification.'
The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population, John Day (2005), ''In Search of Pre-Exilic Israel,'' Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 47.5 8'In this sense, the emergence of ancient Israel is viewed not as the cause of the demise of Canaanite culture but as its upshot'. consolidated their hold with the emergence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Some consider that these Canaanite sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as 'Hebrews'. Though few sources mention the exilic periods in detail, the experience of diaspora life, from the Babylonian captivity, Babylonian captivity and exile to the Judea (Roman province), Roman occupation and exile, and the historical relations between Jews and their homeland thereafter, became a major feature of Jewish history, Jewish identity, identity and memory. In the millennia following, Jewish diaspora communities Coalescent theory, coalesced into three, major Jewish ethnic divisions, ethnic subdivisions according to where their ancestors settled: ''Ashkenazi Jews, Ashkenazim'' (Central and Eastern European Jewry, Eastern Europe), ''Sephardi Jews, Sephardim'' (initially in Spanish and Portuguese Jews, the Iberian Peninsula), and ''Mizrahi Jews, Mizrahim'' (Middle East and North Africa).Dosick (2007), pp. 59, 60. Prior to World War II, the worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million,, based on representing around 0.7 percent of the world population at that time. Approximately 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Since then the population has slowly risen again, and was estimated at 14.6–17.8 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank, less than 0.2 percent of the total world population. The modern State of Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population. It defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state in the Basic Laws of Israel, Basic Laws, Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, Human Dignity and Liberty in particular, which is based on the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence. Israel's Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to Jews who have expressed their desire to settle in Israel. Despite their small percentage of the world's population, Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to Progress (history), human progress in many fields, both historically and in modern times, including Jewish philosophy, philosophy, Jewish ethics, ethics, Jewish literature, literature,"Upon the foundation of Judaism, two civilizations centered on monotheistic religion emerged, Christianity and Islam. To these civilizations, the Jews added a leaven of astonishing creativity in business, medicine, letters, science, the arts, and a variety of other leadership roles." Jewish political movements, politics, Jewish culture#Economic activity, business, Jewish art, fine arts and architecture, Jewish music, music, Jewish theatre, theatre and Jewish culture#cinema, cinema, Jewish medicine, medicine, and Jewish culture#Science and technology, science and technology, as well as Jewish religious movements, religion; Jews Authorship of the Bible, authored the Bible, "During the subsequent five hundred years, under Persian, Greek and Roman domination, the Jews wrote, revised, admitted and canonized all the books now comprising the Jewish Old Testament""The fact that Jesus and his followers who wrote the New Testament were first-century Jews, then, produces as many questions as it does answers concerning their experiences, beliefs, and practices" founded Early Christianity"Early Christianity began as a Jewish movement in first-century Palestine" and had a profound influence on Islam. "Judaism also contributed to the religion of Islam for Islam derives its ideas of holy text, the Qur'an, ultimately from Judaism. The dietary and legal codes of Islam are based on those of Judaism. The basic design of the mosque, the Islamic house of worship, comes from that of the early synagogues. The communal prayer services of Islam and their devotional routines resembles those of Judaism." Jews have also played a significant role in the development of Western Civilization.Cambridge University Historical Series, ''An Essay on Western Civilization in Its Economic Aspects'', p. 40: Hebraism, like Hellenism, has been an all-important factor in the development of Western Civilization; Judaism, as the precursor of Christianity, has indirectly had had much to do with shaping the ideals and morality of western nations since the christian era.

Name and etymology

The English word "Jew" continues Middle English '. These terms were loaned via the Old French ', which itself evolved from the earlier ', which in turn derived from ' which through elision had dropped the letter "d" from the Medieval Latin ''Iudaeus'', which, like the New Testament Greek language, Greek term ''Ioudaios'', meant both "Jew" and "Judean" / "of Judea". The Greek term was a loan from Middle Aramaic, Aramaic ', corresponding to Hebrew language, Hebrew , originally the term for a member of the tribe of Judah or the people of the kingdom of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, the name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah (Bible), Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Genesis 29:35 and 49:8 connect the name "Judah" with the verb , meaning "praise", but scholars generally agree that the name of both the patriarch and the kingdom instead have a geographic origin—possibly referring to the gorges and ravines of the region. The Hebrew word for "Jew" is , with the plural . Endonyms in other Jewish languages include the Ladino language, Ladino (plural , ) and the Yiddish language, Yiddish (plural ). The etymological equivalent is in use in other languages, e.g., يَهُودِيّ ''yahūdī'' (sg.), ''al-yahūd'' (pl.), in Arabic, "Jude" in German language, German, "judeu" in Portuguese language, Portuguese, "Juif" (m.)/"Juive" (f.) in French language, French, "jøde" in Danish language, Danish and Norwegian language, Norwegian, "judío/a" in Spanish language, Spanish, "jood" in Dutch language, Dutch, "żyd" in Polish language, Polish etc., but derivations of the word "Hebrew" are also in use to describe a Jew, e.g., in Italian language, Italian (''Ebreo''), in Persian language, Persian ("Ebri/Ebrani" ( fa, عبری/عبرانی)) and Russian language, Russian (''Еврей, Yevrey''). The German word "Jude" is pronounced , the corresponding adjective "jüdisch" (Jewish) is the origin of the word "Yiddish". According to ''The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language'', 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 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.

Who is a Jew?

Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
shares some of the characteristics of a
nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ethnic group; it has been described as "a fully ...
, "The Jews are a nation and were so before there was a Jewish state of Israel" "That there is a Jewish nation can hardly be denied after the creation of the State of Israel" "Jews are a people, a nation (in the original sense of the word), an ethnos" an ethnicity, a religion, and a culture,: "Judaism is a culture and a civilization which embraces the secular as well": Although culture - and Judaism is a culture (or cultures) as well as religion - can be subdivided into different analytical categories...": "Although Judaism is a culture - or rather has a culture - it is eminently more than a culture" 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 Matrilineality in Judaism, matrilineal descent), and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally Conversion to Judaism, converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion. Historical definitions of Jewish identity have traditionally been based on ''halakha, halakhic'' definitions of matrilineal descent, and halakhic conversions. These definitions of who is a Jew date back to the codification of the Oral Torah into the Talmud, Babylonian Talmud, around 200 Common Era, CE. Interpretations of sections of the Tanakh, such as Book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 7:1–5, by Jewish sages, are used as a warning against Interfaith marriage in Judaism, intermarriage between Jews and Canaanites because "[the non-Jewish husband] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods of others." says that the son in a marriage between a Hebrew woman and an Egyptians, Egyptian man is "of the community of Israel." This is complemented by , where Israelites returning from Babylon vow to put aside their gentile wives and their children. A popular theory is that the rape of Jewish women in captivity brought about the law of Jewish identity being inherited through the maternal line, although scholars challenge this theory citing the Talmudic establishment of the law from the pre-exile period. Another argument is that the rabbis changed the law of patrilineal descent to matrilineal descent due to the widespread rape of Jewish women by Roman soldiers. Since the anti-religious ''Haskalah'' movement of the late 18th and 19th centuries, ''halakhic'' interpretations of Jewish identity have been challenged. According to historian Shaye J. D. Cohen, the status of the offspring of mixed marriages was determined Patrilineality, patrilineally in the Bible. He brings two likely explanations for the change in Mishnah, Mishnaic times: first, the Mishnah may have been applying the same logic to mixed marriages as it had applied to other mixtures (''Kil'ayim (prohibition), Kil'ayim''). Thus, a mixed marriage is forbidden as is the union of a horse and a donkey, and in both unions the offspring are judged matrilineally. Second, the Tannaim may have been influenced by Roman law, which dictated that when a parent could not contract a legal marriage, Mater semper certa est, offspring would follow the mother. Rabbi Rivon Krygier follows a similar reasoning, arguing that Jewish descent had formerly passed through the patrineal descent and the law of matrilineal descent had its roots in the Roman legal system.


, tenth king of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), northern Kingdom of Israel, on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 841–840 BCE. This is "the only portrayal we have in ancient Near Eastern art of an Israelite or Judaean monarch". A factual reconstruction for the origin of the Jews is a difficult and complex endeavor. It requires examining at least 3,000 years of ancient human history using documents in vast quantities and variety written in at least ten near Eastern languages. As archaeological discovery relies upon researchers and scholars from diverse disciplines, the goal is to interpret all of the factual data, focusing on the most consistent theory. The prehistory and ethnogenesis of the Jews are closely intertwined with archaeology, biology, and historical textual records, as well as religious literature and mythology. The ethnic stock to which Jews originally trace their ancestry was a confederation of Iron Age Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking tribes known as the
Israelites The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchi ...
that inhabited a part of during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic periods. Modern Jews are named after and also descended from the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah. According to the Tanakh, Hebrew Bible narrative, Jewish ancestry is traced back to the Patriarchs (Bible), Biblical patriarchs such as Abraham, his son Isaac, Isaac's son Jacob, and the Biblical matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, who lived in . The Twelve Tribes are described as descending from the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob and his family migrated to Ancient Egypt after being invited to live with Jacob's son Joseph (son of Jacob), Joseph by the Pharaohs in the Bible, Pharaoh himself. The patriarchs' descendants were later enslaved until the The Exodus, Exodus led by Moses, after which the Israelites conquered Canaan under Moses' successor Joshua, went through the period of the Biblical judges after the death of Joshua, then through the mediation of Samuel became subject to a king, Saul, who was succeeded by David and then Solomon, after whom the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Monarchy ended and was split into a separate Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel and a Kingdom of Judah. The Kingdom of Judah is described as comprising the Tribe of Judah, the Tribe of Benjamin, partially the Tribe of Levi, and later adding remnants of other tribes who migrated there from the Kingdom of Israel. Modern Jews claim lineage from those tribes since the Ten Lost Tribes, ten northern tribes were lost following Assyrian captivity. Modern archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of this narrative, with it being reframed as constituting the
Israelites The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchi ...
' inspiring national myth narrative. The Israelites and their culture, according to the modern archaeological account, did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the Canaanite languages, Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monolatrism, monolatristic—and later monotheism, monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh. The growth of Yahweh-centric belief, along with a number of cultic practices, gradually gave rise to a distinct Israelite ethnic group, setting them apart from other Canaanites. The Israelites become visible in the historical record as a people between 1200 and 1000 BCE. It is not certain if a period like that of the Biblical judges occurredFor a bibliography of scholars who doubt anything like the period of the Judges ever occurred, see nor if there was ever a Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy), United Monarchy. There is well accepted archeological evidence referring to "Israel" in the Merneptah Stele, which dates to about 1200 BCE, and the Canaanites are archeologically attested in the Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age.Jonathan M Golde
''Ancient Canaan and Israel: An Introduction,''
OUP USA, 2009 pp. 3–4.
There is debate about the earliest existence of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their extent and power, but historians agree that a Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel existed by c. 900 BCE and that a Kingdom of Judah existed by c. 700 BCE.The Pitcher Is Broken: Memorial Essays for Gosta W. Ahlstrom, Steven W. Holloway, Lowell K. Handy, Continuum, 1 May 1995
Quote: "For Israel, the description of the battle of Qarqar in the Kurkh Monolith of Shalmaneser III (mid-ninth century) and for Judah, a Tiglath-pileser III text mentioning (Jeho-) Ahaz of Judah (IIR67 = K. 3751), dated 734–733, are the earliest published to date."
It is widely accepted that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.


The term Jew originated from the Roman "Judean" and denoted someone from the southern kingdom of Judah. The shift of ethnonym from "Israelites" to "Jews" (inhabitant of Judah), although not contained in the Torah, is made explicit in the Book of Esther (4th century BCE), a book in the Ketuvim, the third section of the Jewish Tanakh. In 587 BCE Nebuchadnezzar II, King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC), besieged Jerusalem, destroyed the Solomon's Temple, First Temple, and deported the most prominent citizens of Judah. According to the Book of Ezra, the Persian Cyrus the Great ended the Babylonian exile in 538 BCE, the year after he captured Babylon. The exile ended with the return under Zerubbabel the Prince (so-called because he was a descendant of the royal line of David) and Joshua the Priest (a descendant of the line of the former High Priests of the Temple) and their construction of the Second Temple in the period 521–516 BCE. The Cyrus Cylinder, an ancient tablet on which is written a declaration in the name of Cyrus referring to restoration of temples and repatriation of exiled peoples, has often been taken as corroboration of the authenticity of the biblical decrees attributed to Cyrus, but other scholars point out that the cylinder's text is specific to Babylon and Mesopotamia and makes no mention of Judah or Jerusalem. Professor Lester L. Grabbe asserted that the "alleged decree of Cyrus" regarding Judah, "cannot be considered authentic", but that there was a "general policy of allowing deportees to return and to re-establish cult sites". He also stated that archaeology suggests that the return was a "trickle" taking place over decades, rather than a single event. As part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire, the former Kingdom of Judah became the province of Judah (''Yehud Medinata'') with different borders, covering a smaller territory. The population of the province was greatly reduced from that of the kingdom, archaeological surveys showing a population of around 30,000 people in the 5th to 4th centuries BCE. The region was under control of the Achaemenid Empire, Achaemenids until the fall of their empire in c. 333 BCE to Alexander the Great. Jews were also politically independent during the Hasmonean dynasty spanning from 110 to 63 BCE and to some degree under the Herodian dynasty from 37 BCE to 6 CE. Since the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, most Jews have lived in diaspora. Genetic studies on Jews show that most Jews worldwide bear a common genetic heritage which originates in the
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Middle East
, and that they share certain genetic traits with other Gentile peoples of the Fertile Crescent. Natural History 102:11 (November 1993): 12–19. The genetic composition of different Jewish groups shows that Jews share a common gene pool dating back four millennia, as a marker of their common ancestral origin. Despite their long-term separation, Jewish communities maintained their unique commonalities, propensities, and sensibilities in culture, tradition, and language.

Babylon and Rome

After the destruction of the Second Temple, Judaism lost much of its sectarian nature. Without a Temple, Greek-speaking Jews no longer looked to Jerusalem in the way they had before. Judaism separated into a linguistically Greek and a Hebrew / Aramaic sphere. The theology and religious texts of each community were distinctively different. Hellenized Judaism never developed yeshivas to study the Oral Law. Rabbinic Judaism (centered in the Land of Israel and Babylon) almost entirely ignores the Hellenized Diaspora in its writings. Hellenized Judaism eventually disappeared as its practitioners assimilated into Greco-Roman culture, leaving a strong Rabbinic eastern Diaspora with large centers of learning in Babylon. By the first century, the Jewish community in Babylonia, to which Jews were exiled after the Babylonian conquest as well as after the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, already held a speedily growingמרדכי וורמברנד ובצלאל ס רותת "עם ישראל – תולדות 4000 שנה – מימי האבות ועד חוזה השלום", ע"מ 95. (Translation: Mordechai Vermebrand and Betzalel S. Ruth – "The People of Israel – the history of 4000 years – from the days of the Forefathers to the Peace Treaty", 1981, p. 95) population of an estimated one million Jews, which increased to an estimated two millionDr. Solomon Gryazel, "History of the Jews – From the destruction of Judah in 586 BC to the present Arab Israeli conflict", p. 137 between the years 200 CE and 500 CE, both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about one-sixth of the world Jewish population at that era. The 13th-century author Bar Hebraeus gave a figure of 6,944,000 Jews in the Roman world; Salo Wittmayer Baron considered the figure convincing. The figure of seven million within and one million outside the Roman world in the mid-first century became widely accepted, including by Louis Feldman. However, contemporary scholars now accept that Bar Hebraeus based his figure on a census of total Roman citizens, the figure of 6,944,000 being recorded in Chronicon (Eusebius), Eusebius' Chronicon. Louis Feldman, previously an active supporter of the figure, now states that he and Baron were mistaken. Feldman's views on active Jewish missionizing have also changed. While viewing classical Judaism as being receptive to converts, especially from the second century BCE through the first century CE, he points to a lack of either missionizing tracts or records of the names of rabbis who sought converts as evidence for the lack of active Jewish missionizing. Feldman maintains that conversion to Judaism was common and the Jewish population was large both within the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora. Other historians believe that conversion during the Roman era was limited in number and did not account for much of the Jewish population growth, due to various factors such as the illegality of male conversion to Judaism in the Roman world from the mid-second century. Another factor that made conversion difficult in the Roman world was the halakhic requirement of Brit milah, circumcision, a requirement that proselytizing Circumcision controversy in early Christianity, Christianity quickly dropped. The Fiscus Judaicus, a tax imposed on Jews in 70 CE and relaxed to exclude Christians in 96 CE, also limited Judaism's appeal.


Following the Roman conquest of Judea and the Siege of Jerusalem (70 CE), siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, hundreds of thousands of Jews were taken as slaves to Rome, where they later immigrated to other European lands. The Jews who immigrated to Iberian Peninsula, Iberia and North Africa comprise the Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jews, while those who immigrated to the Rhineland and France comprise the Ashkenazi Jews. Additionally both before and after the Roman conquest of Judea many Jews lived in Iran, Persia and Babylon as well as other Middle eastern countries, these Jews comprise the Mizrahi Jews, Mizrachi Jews. In Francia, Jews like Isaac the Jew, Isaac Judaeus and Armentarius (moneylender), Armentarius occupied prominent social and economic positions, as opposed to in Spain, where Jews were persecuted under Visigothic Kingdom, Visigoth rule. In Babylon, from the 7th to 11th centuries the Pumbedita Academy, Pumbedita and Sura Academy, Sura academies lead the Arab and to an extant the entire Jewish world. The deans and students of said academies defined the Geonim, Geonic period in Jewish history. Following this period were the Rishonim who lived from the 11th to 15th centuries, it was during this time that the Ashkenazi Jews began experiencing extreme persecution in France and especially the Rhineland, which resulted in mass immigration to History of the Jews in Poland, Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Lithuania. Meanwhile, Sephardic Jews experienced a golden age under Muslim rule, however following the Reconquista and subsequent Alhambra Decree, Alhambra decree in 1492, most of the Spanish Jewish population immigrated to North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. However some Jews choose to remain and pretended to practice Catholicism. These Jews would form the members of Crypto-Judaism.



The Jewish ethnicity, people and the religion of
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
are strongly interrelated. Conversion to Judaism, Converts to Judaism typically have a status within the Jewish ''ethnos'' equal to those born into it. However, several converts to Judaism, as well as ex-Jews, have claimed that converts are treated as second-class Jews by many born Jews. Conversion is not encouraged by mainstream Judaism, and it is considered a difficult task. A significant portion of conversions are undertaken by children of mixed marriages, or would-be or current spouses of Jews. The Hebrew Bible, a religious interpretation of the traditions and early history of the Jews, established the first of the Abrahamic religions, which are now practiced by 54 percent of the world.
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
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 Ancient Greece, Hellenic world, in Europe before and after The Age of Enlightenment (see Haskalah), in Al-Andalus, Islamic Spain and Portugal,Sharot (1997), pp. 29–30. in North Africa and the
Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (East Thrace, partly in So ...

Middle East
, Indian Jews, India, History of the Jews in China, China, or the contemporary American Jews, 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, and still 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.


Hebrew language, Hebrew is the liturgical language of Judaism (termed ''lashon ha-kodesh'', "the holy tongue"), the language in which most of the Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh) were composed, and the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries. By the 5th century BCE, Aramaic language, Aramaic, a closely related tongue, joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea. By the 3rd century BCE, some Jews of the diaspora were speaking Ancient Greek, Greek. Others, such as in the Jewish communities of Babylonia, were speaking Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages of the Babylonian Talmud. These languages were also used by the Jews of Israel at that time. For centuries, Jews worldwide have spoken the local or dominant languages of the regions they migrated to, often developing distinctive dialectal forms or branches that became independent languages. Yiddish language, Yiddish is the Judaeo-German language developed by Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to Central Europe. Judaeo-Spanish, Ladino is the Judaeo-Spanish language developed by Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jews who migrated to the Iberian peninsula. Due to many factors, including the impact of the Holocaust on European Jewry, the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, and widespread emigration from other Jewish communities around the world, ancient and distinct Jewish languages of several communities, including Judaeo-Georgian, Judeo-Arabic languages, Judaeo-Arabic, Judeo-Berber language, Judaeo-Berber, Krymchak language, Krymchak, Judaeo-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 Shabbat, Sabbath. Hebrew was revived as a spoken language by Eliezer ben Yehuda, who arrived in Palestine (region), Palestine in 1881. It had not been used as a mother tongue since Tannaim, Tannaic times. Modern Hebrew is designated as the "State language" of Israel. Despite efforts to revive Hebrew as the national language of the Jewish people, knowledge of the language is not commonly possessed by Jews worldwide and English language, English has emerged as the lingua franca of the Jewish diaspora. Although many Jews once had sufficient knowledge of Hebrew to study the classic literature, and Jewish languages like Yiddish and Judaeo-Spanish, Ladino were commonly used as recently as the early 20th century, most Jews lack such knowledge today and English has by and large superseded most Jewish vernaculars. The three most commonly spoken languages among Jews today are Hebrew, English, and Russian language, Russian. Some Romance languages, particularly French language, French and Spanish language, Spanish, are also widely used. Yiddish has been spoken by more Jews in history than any other language, but it is far less used today following the Holocaust and the adoption of Modern Hebrew by the Zionism, Zionist movement and the Israel, State of Israel. In some places, the mother language of the Jewish community differs from that of the general population or the dominant group. For example, in Quebec, the Ashkenazic majority has adopted English, while the Sephardic minority uses French as its primary language. Similarly, History of the Jews in South Africa, South African Jews adopted English rather than Afrikaans. Due to both Czarist and Soviet policies, Russian has superseded Yiddish as the language of History of the Jews in Russia, Russian Jews, but these policies have also affected neighboring communities. Today, Russian is the first language for many Jewish communities in a number of Post-Soviet states, such as Ukraine and Uzbekistan, as well as for Ashkenazic Jews in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan. Although communities in North Africa today are small and dwindling, Jews there had shifted from a multilingual group to a monolingual one (or nearly so), speaking French in Algeria, Morocco, and the city of Tunis, while most North Africans continue to use Arabic or Berber as their mother tongue.


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. Today, many countries have a Chief Rabbi who serves as a representative of that country's Jewry. Although many Hasidic Judaism, Hassidic Jews follow a certain hereditary List of Hasidic dynasties, Hasidic dynasty, there is no one commonly accepted leader of all Hasidic Jews. Many Jews believe that the Messiah in Judaism, Messiah will act a unifying leader for Jews and the entire world.

Theories on ancient Jewish national identity

A number of modern scholars of nationalism support the existence of Jewish national identity in antiquity. One of them is David Goodblatt, who generally believes in the existence of nationalism before the modern period. In his view, the Bible, the parabiblical literature and the Jewish national history provide the base for a Jewish collective identity. Although many of the ancient Jews were illiterate (as were their neighbors), their national narrative was reinforced through public readings, a common practice in the ancient eastern Mediterranean area. The Hebrew language also constructed and preserved national identity. Although it was not spoken by most of the Jews after the 5th century BCE, Goodblatt contends that: :“the mere presence of the language in spoken or written form could invoke the concept of a Jewish national identity. Even if one knew no Hebrew or was illiterate, one could recognize that a group of signs was in Hebrew script. … It was the language of the Israelite ancestors, the national literature, and the national religion. As such it was inseparable from the national identity. Indeed its mere presence in visual or aural medium could invoke that identity.” It is believed that Jewish nationalist sentiment in antiquity was encouraged because under foreign rule (Persians, Greeks, Romans) Jews were able to claim that they were an ancient nation. This claim was based on the preservation and reverence of their scriptures, the Hebrew language, the Temple and priesthood, and other traditions of their ancestors.


Ethnic divisions

Within the world's Jewish population there are distinct ethnic divisions, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite population, and subsequent independent evolutions. An array of Jewish communities was established by Jewish settlers in various places around the Old World, often at great distances from one another, resulting in effective and often long-term isolation. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments: politics, political, culture, cultural, nature, natural, and populational. Today, manifestations of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish culture, Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including Jewish languages, Jewish linguistic diversity, 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 ''Ashkenazi Jews, Ashkenazim'' and the ''Sephardi Jews, Sephardim''. Ashkenazim, or "Germanics" (Ashkenaz meaning "Germany" in Hebrew), are so named denoting their History of the Jews in Germany, German Jewish cultural and geographical origins, while Sephardim, or "Hispanics" (Sefarad meaning "Spain/Hispania" or "Iberian peninsula, Iberia" in Hebrew), are so named denoting their Spanish/Portuguese Jewish cultural and geographic origins. The more common term in Israel for many of those broadly called Sephardim, is ''Mizrahi Jews, Mizrahim'' (lit. "Easterners", Mizrach being "East" in Hebrew), that is, in reference to the diverse collection of Middle Eastern and North African Jews who are often, as a group, referred to collectively as ''Sephardim'' (together with Sephardim proper) for liturgical reasons, although Mizrahi Jewish groups and Sephardi Jews proper are ethnically distinct. Smaller groups include, but are not restricted to, Jews in India, Indian Jews such as the Bene Israel, Bnei Menashe, Cochin Jews, and Bene Ephraim; the Romaniote Jews, Romaniotes of Greece; the Italian rite Jews, Italian Jews ("Italkim" or "Bené Roma"); the Teimanim from Yemen; various Jews and Judaism in Africa, African Jews, including most numerously the Beta Israel of Ethiopia; and History of the Jews in China, Chinese Jews, most notably the Kaifeng Jews, 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 African, Central Asian, Caucasus (geographic region), Caucasian, and Middle Eastern Jewish communities that are no closer related to each other than 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 Egyptian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Lebanese Jews, Kurdish Jews, Moroccan Jews, Libyan Jews, Syrian Jews, Bukharian Jews, Mountain Jews, Georgian Jews, Iranian Jews, Afghan Jews, and various others. The Teimanim from Yemen 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 The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (East Thrace, partly in So ...

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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. Ashkenazi Jews represent the bulk of modern Jewry, with at least 70 percent of Jews worldwide (and up to 90 percent prior to World War II and the Holocaust). As a result of their emigration from Europe, Ashkenazim also represent the overwhelming majority of Jews in the New World continents, in countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. In France, the immigration of Jews from Algeria (Sephardim) has led them to outnumber the Ashkenazim. Only in Israel is the Jewish population representative of all groups, a melting pot independent of each group's proportion within the overall world Jewish population.

Genetic studies

Y chromosome, Y DNA studies tend to imply a small number of founders in an old population whose members parted and followed different migration paths. In most Jewish populations, these male line ancestors appear to have been mainly
Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (East Thrace, partly in So ...

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ern. For example, Ashkenazi Jews share more common paternal lineages with other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than with non-Jewish populations in areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, Germany and the French Rhine, Rhine Valley. This is consistent with Jewish traditions in placing most Jewish paternal origins in the region of the Middle East. Conversely, the maternal lineages of Jewish populations, studied by looking at mitochondrial DNA, are generally more heterogeneous. Scholars such as Harry Ostrer and Raphael Falk believe this indicates that many Jewish males found new mates from European and other communities in the places where they migrated in the diaspora after fleeing ancient Israel. In contrast, Behar has found evidence that about 40 percent of Ashkenazi Jews originate maternally from just four female founders, who were of Middle Eastern origin. The populations of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish communities "showed no evidence for a narrow founder effect." Subsequent studies carried out by Feder et al. confirmed the large portion of non-local maternal origin among Ashkenazi Jews. Reflecting on their findings related to the maternal origin of Ashkenazi Jews, the authors conclude "Clearly, the differences between Jews and non-Jews are far larger than those observed among the Jewish communities. Hence, differences between the Jewish communities can be overlooked when non-Jews are included in the comparisons." A study showed that 7% of Ashkenazi Jews have the haplogroup G2c, which is mainly found in Pashtuns and on lower scales all major Jewish groups, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. Studies of Autosome, autosomal DNA, which look at the entire DNA mixture, have become increasingly important as the technology develops. They show that Jewish populations have tended to form relatively closely related groups in independent communities, with most in a community sharing significant ancestry in common. For Jewish populations of the diaspora, the genetic composition of Ashkenazi Jews, Ashkenazi, Sephardi Jews, Sephardi, and Mizrahi Jews, Mizrahi Jewish populations show a predominant amount of shared Middle Eastern ancestry. According to Behar, the most parsimonious explanation for this shared Middle Eastern ancestry is that it is "consistent with the historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrews, Hebrew and Israelites, Israelite residents of the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part of the G ...

" and "the dispersion of the people of ancient Israel throughout the Old World". North African, Italian Peninsula, Italian and others of Iberian Peninsula, Iberian origin show variable frequencies of admixture with non-Jewish historical host populations among the maternal lines. In the case of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews (in particular Moroccan Jews), who are closely related, the source of non-Jewish admixture is mainly southern European, while Mizrahi Jews show evidence of admixture with other Middle Eastern populations. Behar ''et al.'' have remarked on a close relationship between Ashkenazi Jews and modern Italians. A 2001 study found that Jews were more closely related to groups of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors, whose genetic signature was found in geographic patterns reflective of Islamic conquests. The studies also show that Sephardic Bnei Anusim (descendants of the "anusim" who were Forced conversion, forced to convert to Catholicism), which comprise up to 19.8 percent of the population of today's Iberia (Spain and Portugal) and at least 10 percent of the population of Ibero-America (Hispanic America and Brazil), have Sephardic Jewish ancestry within the last few centuries. The Bene Israel and Cochin Jews of India, Beta Israel of Ethiopia, and a portion of the Lemba people of Southern Africa all have more ancient Jewish ancestry.

Population centers

Although historically, Jews have been found all over the world, in the decades since World War II and the establishment of Israel, they have increasingly concentrated in a small number of countries. In 2013, the United States and Israel were collectively home to more than 80 percent of the global Jewish population, each country having approximately 41 percent of the world's Jews. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics there were 13,421,000 Jews worldwide in 2009, roughly 0.19 percent of the world's population at the time. According to the 2007 estimates of The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, the world's Jewish population is 13.2 million. Adherents.com cites figures ranging from 12 to 18 million. These statistics incorporate both practicing Jews affiliated with synagogues and the Jewish community, and approximately 4.5 million unaffiliated and Jewish secularism, secular Jews. According to Sergio Della Pergola, a demographer of the Jewish population, in 2015 there were about 6.3 million Jews in Israel, 5.7 million in the United States, and 2.3 million in the rest of the world.


Israel, the Jewish nation-state, is the only country in which Jews make up a majority of the citizens. Israel was established as an independent Parliamentary democracy, democratic and Jewish state on 14 May 1948. Of the 120 members in its parliament, the Knesset, , 14 members of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel (not including the Druze), most representing Arab political parties. One of Israel's Supreme Court of Israel, Supreme Court judges is also an Arab citizen of Israel. Between 1948 and 1958, the Jewish population rose from 800,000 to two million. Currently, Jews account for 75.4 percent of the Israeli population, or 6 million people. The early years of the State of Israel were marked by the Aliyah, mass immigration of Holocaust survivors in the aftermath of the Holocaust and Jews Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, fleeing Arab lands.. "And most [Oriental-Sephardic Jews] came... because of Arab persecution resulting from the very attempt to establish a Jewish state in Palestine." 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. This period also saw an increase in Aliyah, immigration to Israel from Western Europe, Latin America, and North America. A trickle of immigrants from other communities has also arrived, including Indian Jews and others, as well as some descendants of Ashkenazi Holocaust survivors who had settled in countries such as the United States, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Some Jews have emigrated from Israel elsewhere, because of economic problems or disillusionment with political conditions and the continuing Arab–Israeli conflict. Jewish Israeli emigrants are known as Yerida, yordim.Dosick (2007), p. 340.

Diaspora (outside Israel)

dominating the main square in Birobidzhan. An estimated 70,000 History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union, Jews live in Siberia. The waves of immigration to the United States and elsewhere at the turn of the 19th century, the founding of Zionism and later events, including pogroms in Imperial Russia (mostly within the Pale of Settlement in present-day Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and eastern Poland), the massacre of European Jewry during the Holocaust, and the founding of the state of Israel, with the subsequent Jewish exodus from Arab lands, all resulted in substantial shifts in the population centers of world Jewry by the end of the 20th century. More than half of the Jews live in the Diaspora (see Population table). Currently, the largest Jewish community outside Israel, and either the largest or second-largest Jewish community in the world, is located in the United States, with 5.2 million to 6.4 million Jews by various estimates. Elsewhere in the Americas, there are also large Jewish populations in Canada (315,000), Argentina (180,000–300,000), and Brazil (196,000–600,000), and smaller populations in Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and several other countries (see History of the Jews in Latin America)., based on According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, about 470,000 people of Jewish heritage live in Latin America, Latin-America and the Caribbean. Demographers disagree on whether the United States has a larger Jewish population than Israel, with many maintaining that Israel surpassed the United States in Jewish population during the 2000s, while others maintain that the United States still has the largest Jewish population in the world. Currently, a major national Jewish population survey is planned to ascertain whether or not Israel has overtaken the United States in Jewish population. Western Europe's largest Jewish community, and the third-largest Jewish community in the world, can be found in France, home to between 483,000 and 500,000 Jews, the majority of whom are immigrants or refugees from North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia (or their descendants). The United Kingdom has a Jewish community of 292,000. In East Europe, Eastern Europe, the exact figures are difficult to establish. The number of Jews in Russia varies widely according to whether a source uses census data (which requires a person to choose a single nationality among choices that include "Russian" and "Jewish") or eligibility for immigration to Israel (which requires that a person have one or more Jewish grandparents). According to the latter criteria, the heads of the Russian Jewish community assert that up to 1.5 million Russians are eligible for aliyah. In Germany, the 102,000 Jews registered with the Jewish community are a slowly declining population, despite the immigration of tens of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thousands of Israelis also live in Germany, either permanently or temporarily, for economic reasons. Prior to 1948, approximately 800,000 Jews were living in lands which now make up the Arab world (excluding Israel). Of these, just under two-thirds lived in the French-controlled Maghreb region, 15 to 20 percent in the Kingdom of Iraq, approximately 10 percent in the Kingdom of Egypt and approximately 7 percent in the Kingdom of Yemen. A further 200,000 lived in Pahlavi Iran and the Republic of Turkey. Today, around 26,000 Jews live in Arab countries and around 30,000 in Iran and Turkey. A small-scale exodus had begun in many countries in the early decades of the 20th century, although the only substantial aliyah came from Yemen and Syria. The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, exodus from Arab and Muslim countries took place primarily from 1948. The first large-scale exoduses took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily in Iraq, Yemen and Libya, with up to 90 percent of these communities leaving within a few years. The peak of the exodus from Egypt occurred in 1956. The exodus in the Maghreb countries peaked in the 1960s. Lebanon was the only Arab country to see a temporary increase in its Jewish population during this period, due to an influx of refugees from other Arab countries, although by the mid-1970s the Jewish community of Lebanon had also dwindled. In the aftermath of the exodus wave from Arab states, an additional migration of Iranian Jews peaked in the 1980s when around 80 percent of Iranian Jews left the country. Outside Europe, the Americas, the
Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (East Thrace, partly in So ...

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, and the rest of Asia, there are significant Jewish populations in Australia (112,500) and Jewish population of South Africa, South Africa (70,000). There is also a 6,800-strong community in New Zealand.

Demographic changes


Since at least the time of the Ancient Greece, 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.Johnson (1987), p. 171. Assimilation took place in all areas, and during all time periods, with some Jewish communities, for example the Kaifeng Jews of China, disappearing entirely. The advent of the Jewish Enlightenment of the 18th century (see Haskalah) and the subsequent Jewish emancipation, emancipation of the Jewish populations of Europe and America in the 19th century, accelerated the situation, encouraging Jews to increasingly participate in, and become part of, Secularism, 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 Interfaith marriage, interreligious marriage vary widely: In the United States, it is just under 50 percent, in the United Kingdom, around 53 percent; in France; around 30 percent, and in Australia and Mexico, as low as 10 percent. In the United States, only about a third of children from intermarriages affiliate with Jewish religious practice. The result is that most countries in the Jewish diaspora, Diaspora have steady or slightly declining religiously Jewish populations as Jews continue to assimilate into the countries in which they live.

War and persecution

The Jewish people and
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion co ...
have experienced various persecutions throughout Jewish history. During Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages the Roman Empire (in its later phases known as the Byzantine Empire) repeatedly repressed the History of the Jews in the Roman Empire, Jewish population, first by ejecting them from their homelands during the pagan Roman era and later by officially establishing them as Justinian I#Suppression of religions, second-class citizens during the Christian Roman era. According to James P. Carroll, James Carroll, "Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. 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 Middle Ages, medieval Western Europe, further persecutions of Jews by Christians occurred, notably during the Crusades—when Jews all over Germany Rhineland massacres, were massacred—and a series of expulsions from the Edict of Expulsion, Kingdom of England, Germany, France, and, in the Alhambra Decree, largest expulsion of all, Spain and Portugal after the Reconquista (the Catholic Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula), where both unbaptized Sephardic Jews and the ruling Muslim Moors were expelled. In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Islam and Judaism have a complex relationship. Traditionally Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religions and administer their internal affairs, but they were subject to certain conditions.Lewis (1984), pp. 10, 20 They had to pay the jizya (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 (Jewish), disabilities 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 as "most degrading" was the requirement of Yellow badge, distinctive clothing, not found in the Quran or hadith but invented in Early Middle Ages, early medieval Baghdad; its enforcement was highly erratic.Lewis (1999), p.131 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 forcible conversion of some Jews by the rulers of the Almohad Caliphate, Almohad dynasty in Al-Andalus in the 12th century, as well as in Islamic conquest of Persia, Islamic Persia, and the forced confinement of Moroccan Jews to walled quarters known as mellahs beginning from the 15th century and especially in the early 19th century. In modern times, it has become commonplace for standard Anti-Zionism and antisemitism, antisemitic themes to be conflated with anti-Zionist publications and pronouncements of Islamic movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Iran, 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 Deportation, 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 which resulted in the massacre of Jews;Johnson (1987), pp. 207–08. the Spanish Inquisition (led by Tomás de Torquemada) and the Portuguese Inquisition, with their persecution and ''Auto-da-fé, autos-da-fé'' against the New Christians and Marrano Jews; the Bohdan Chmielnicki Cossack massacres in Ukraine; the Pogroms backed by the Russian List of Russian rulers, Tsars;Johnson (1987), pp. 364–65. as well as expulsions from Spain, Portugal, England, France, Germany, and other countries in which the Jews had settled.Johnson (1987), pp. 213, 229–31. According to a 2008 study published in the ''American Journal of Human Genetics'', 19.8 percent of the modern Iberian Peninsula, Iberian population has Sephardic Jewish ancestry, indicating that the number of conversos may have been much higher than originally thought. The persecution reached a peak in Nazi Germany's Final Solution, which led to the Holocaust and the slaughter of approximately 6 million Jews. Of the world's 15 million Jews in 1939, more than a third were murdered in the Holocaust. The Holocaust—the state-led systematic persecution and genocide of European Jews (and certain communities of North African Jews in History of North Africa#European colonization, European controlled North Africa) and other minority groups of Europe during World War II by Germany and its Collaboration with the Axis Powers during World War II, collaborators remains the most notable modern-day persecution of Jews. The persecution and genocide were accomplished in stages. Nuremberg Laws, Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II. Nazi concentration camps, Concentration camps were established in which inmates were used as Slavery, slave labour until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Nazi Germany, Third Reich conquered new territory in Eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. Jews and Romani people, Roma were crammed into Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe, ghettos before being transported hundreds of kilometres by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were murdered 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."Berenbaum, Michael. ''The World Must Know," United States Holocaust Museum'', 2006, p. 103.


Throughout Jewish history, Jews have repeatedly been directly or indirectly expelled from both their original homeland, the Land of Israel, and many of the areas in which they have settled. This experience as Jewish refugees, refugees has shaped Jewish identity and religious practice in many ways, and is thus a major element of Jewish history. The patriarch Abraham is described as a migrant to the land of from Ur of the Chaldees, Ur of the Chaldea, Chaldees after an attempt on his life by King Nimrod. His descendants, the Children of Israel, in the Biblical story (whose historicity is uncertain) undertook the Exodus (meaning "departure" or "exit" in Greek) from ancient Egypt, as recorded in the Book of Exodus. File:Jewish refugees Liverpool 1882.jpg, Jews fleeing pogroms, 1882 Centuries later, Assyrian policy was to deport and displace conquered peoples, and it is estimated some 4,500,000 among captive populations suffered this dislocation over 3 centuries of Assyrian rule. With regard to Israel, Tiglath-Pileser III claims he deported 80  of the population of Lower Galilee, some 13,520 people. Some 27,000 Israelites, 20 to 25  of the population of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel, were described as being deported by Sargon II, and were replaced by other deported populations and sent into permanent exile by Assyria, initially to the Upper Mesopotamian provinces of the Assyrian Empire, Between 10,000 and 80,000 people from the Kingdom of Judah were similarly exiled by Babylonia,Daniel L. Smith-Christophe
''The Religion of the Landless: The Social Context of the Babylonian Exile ,''
Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015 pp. 30ff.
but these people were then returned to Judea by Cyrus the Great of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Many Jews were exiled again by the Roman Empire. The 2,000 year dispersion of the Jewish diaspora beginning under the Roman Empire, as Jews were spread throughout the Roman world and, driven from land to land, settled wherever they could live freely enough to practice their religion. Over the course of the diaspora the center of Jewish life moved from History of the Jews in Iraq, Babylonia to the Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula, Iberian Peninsula to History of the Jews in Poland, Poland to the Jewish American, United States and, as a result of Zionism, back to Israel.Gartner (2001), p. 431. There were also many expulsions of Jews 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 East-Central Europe, especially Poland.Gartner (2001), pp. 11–12. Following the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, the Spanish population of around 200,000 Sephardic Jews were expelled by the Spanish crown and Roman Catholic Church, Catholic church, followed by expulsions in 1493 in Sicily (37,000 Jews) and Portugal in 1496. The expelled Jews fled mainly to the Ottoman Empire, the Netherlands, and North Africa, others migrating to Southern Europe and the Middle East.Johnson (1987), pp. 229–31. 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).Johnson (1987), p. 306. This contributed to the arrival of millions of Jews in the New World. Over two million Eastern European Jews arrived in the United States from 1880 to 1925. In summary, the pogroms in Eastern Europe, the rise of modern antisemitism,Gartner (2001), pp. 213–15. the Holocaust, and the rise of Arab nationalism 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. In the latest phase of migrations, the Iranian Revolution, Islamic Revolution of Iran caused many Iranian Jews to flee Iran. Most found refuge in the US (particularly Los Angeles, California and Long Island, New York) and Israel. Smaller communities of Persian Jews exist in Canada and Western Europe. Similarly, when the History of the Soviet Union (1985–1991)#Dissolution of the USSR, Soviet Union collapsed, many of the Jews in the affected territory (who had been refuseniks) were suddenly allowed to leave. This produced a wave of migration to Israel in the early 1990s.


Israel is the only country with a Jewish population that is consistently growing through natural population growth, although the Jewish populations of other countries, in Europe and North America, have recently increased through immigration. In the Diaspora, in almost every country the Jewish population in general is either declining or steady, but Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox and Haredi Jewish communities, whose members often shun birth control 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 reaching out to secular Jews in order to give them a stronger Jewish identity 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 (known as the Baal teshuva movement) for secular Jews to become more religiously observant, though the demographic implications of the trend are unknown. Additionally, there is also a growing rate of conversion to Jews by Choice of gentiles who make the decision to head in the direction of becoming Jews.


Jews have made many contributions to humanity in a broad and diverse range of fields, including the sciences, arts, politics, and business. For example, over 20 percent of Nobel Prize laureates have been of Jewish descent, with List of Jewish Nobel laureates, multiple winners in each category.

See also

* Jewish studies * Lists of Jews



Further reading

* Salo Wittmayer Baron, Baron, Salo Wittmayer (1952). ''A Social and Religious History of the Jews'', Volume II, ''Ancient Times'', Part II. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Bernard Lewis, Lewis, Bernard (1984). ''The Jews of Islam''. Princeton: Princeton University Press. * Lewis, Bernard (1999). ''Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice''. W. W. Norton & Co. * * * Leon Poliakov, Poliakov, Leon (1974). ''The History of Anti-semitism.'' New York: The Vanguard Press. * Ruderman, David B. ''Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History'' (Princeton University Press; 2010) 326 pages. Examines print culture, religion, and other realms in a history emphasizing the links among early modern Jewish communities from Venice and Kraków to Amsterdam and Smyrna. * * Norman Stillman, Stillman, Norman (1979). ''The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book''. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. * *

External links

Official website
of the Jewish Virtual Library
Official website
of the ''Jewish Encyclopedia''
Official website
of the World Jewish Congress
Official website
of the Jewish Agency for Israel
Official website
of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Maps related to Jewish history
Official website
of the Berman Jewish DataBank {{Authority control Jews, Ancient peoples of the Near East Ethnic groups in the Middle East Ethno-cultural designations Ethnoreligious groups Hebrew Bible nations Jewish society, Religious identity Semitic-speaking peoples Israelites Judaism, Jews and Judaism,