A Jew (Hebrew: יְהוּדִי, "Yehudi" (sl.); _he. יְהוּדִים, "Yehudim" (pl.); Ladino: ג׳ודיו, "Djudio" (sl.); ג׳ודיוס, "Djudios" (pl.); Yiddish: ייִד, "Yid" (sl.); _yi. ייִדן, "Yidn" (pl.)) [According to the 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. [ "Jew"] , The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000).] is a member of the Jewish people, an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites or Hebrews of the ancient Middle East, or one whose religion is Judaism. The Jewish ethnicity and the religion of Judaism are strongly interrelated, and converts to Judaism are both included and have been absorbed within the Jewish community throughout the millennia.

By traditional accounts, Jewish history began during the second millennium BCE with the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews enjoyed two periods of political autonomy in their national homeland, the Land of Israel, during ancient history. The first era spanned from 1350 to 586 BCE, and encompassed the periods of the Judges, the United Monarchy, and the Divided Monarchy of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, ending with the destruction of the First Temple. The second era was the period of the Hasmonean Kindgom spanning from 140 to 37 BCE. Since the destruction of the First Temple, the diaspora has been the home of most of the world's Jews. [Johnson (1987), p. 82.] Except in the modern State of Israel, established in 1948, Jews are a minority in every country in which they live and they have frequently experienced persecution, resulting in a population that fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries.

According to the Jewish Agency, as of 2007 there were 13.2 million Jews worldwide; 5.3 million in Israel, 5.3 million in the United States, and the remainder distributed in communities of varying sizes around the world; this represents 0.2% of the current estimated world population.cite web|url= |publisher=Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel |title=Jewish Agency: 13.2 million Jews worldwide on eve of Rosh Hashanah, 5768 |last=Pfeffer |first=Anshel |accessdate=2007-09-13] These numbers include all those who consider themselves Jews whether or not affiliated, and, with the exception of Israel's Jewish population, do not include those who do not consider themselves Jews or who are not Jewish by halakha, that is, not Jewish according to Jewish religious law. The total world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to "halakhic" considerations, there are secular, political, and ancestral identification factors in defining who is a Jew that increase the figure considerably.

Jews and Judaism

The origin of the Jews is traditionally dated to around the second millennium BCE to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Merneptah Stele, dated to 1200 BCE, is one of the earliest archaeological records of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where Judaism, possibly the first monotheistic religion, developed over a period of thousands of years. According to Biblical accounts, the Jews enjoyed periods of self-determination first under the Biblical judges from Othniel Ben Kenaz through Samson, then circa 1000 BCE King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah, also known as the "United Monarchy", and from there ruled the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

In 970 BCE, David's son Solomon became king of Israel.cite book|title=The Complete Book of When and Where: In The Bible And Throughout History |last=Michael |first=E. |coauthors=Sharon O. Rusten, Philip Comfort, and Walter A. Elwell |publisher=Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. |isbn=0842355081 |date=2005-02-28 |accessdate=2007-01-22 |pages=20-1, 67] Within a decade, Solomon began to build the Holy Temple known as the "First Temple". Upon Solomon's death (c. 930 BCE), the ten northern tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel. In 722 BCE the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel and exiled its Jews, starting a Jewish diaspora. At a time of limited mobility and travel, Jews became some of the first and most visible immigrants.

The First Temple period ended around 586 BCE as the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah and destroyed the Jewish Temple. In 538 BCE, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity, Persian King Cyrus the Great permitted the Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the holy temple. Construction of the Second Temple, was completed in 516 BCE during the reign of Darius the Great seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple. [cite book|title=Between Rome and Jerusalem: 300 Years of Roman-Judaean Relations |last=Sicker |first=Martin |isbn=0275971406 |publisher=Praeger Publishers |date=2001-01-30 |pages=2 |accessdate=2007-01-22] [cite web|url= |publisher=Boston University |title=Center of the Persian Satrapy of Judah (539-323) |last=Zank |first=Michael |accessdate=2007-01-22] When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, the Land of Israel fell under Hellenistic Greek control, eventually falling to the Ptolemaic dynasty who lost it to the Seleucids. The Seleucid attempt to recast Jerusalem as a Hellenized polis came to a head in 168 BCE with the successful Maccabean revolt of Mattathias the High Priest and his five sons against Antiochus Epiphanes, and their establishment of the Hasmonean Kingdom in 152 BCE with Jerusalem again as its capital. [cite book|last=Schiffman|first=Lawrence H.|title=From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism|publisher=Ktav Publishing House|year=1991|isbn=0-88125-371-5|pages=60-79] The Hasmonean Kingdom lasted over one hundred years, but then as Rome became stronger it installed Herod as a Jewish client king. The Herodian Kingdom also lasted over a hundred years. Defeats by the Jews in the First revolt in 70 CE, the first of the Jewish-Roman Wars and the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE notably contributed to the numbers and geography of the diaspora, as significant numbers of the Jewish population of the Land of Israel were expelled and sold into slavery throughout the Roman Empire. Since then, Jews have lived in almost every country of the world, primarily in Europe, the greater Middle East, and North America. In the various countries in which they have lived, the Jews have survived discrimination, oppression, poverty, and even genocide (see: Antisemitism, The Holocaust). There have also been periods of cultural, economic, and individual prosperity in various locations (such as Islamic Spain and Portugal, Emancipating Germany and Poland, or the contemporary Liberal Democracies of the United States, Australia or United Kingdom).

The Hebrew noun "Yehudi" (plural "Yehudim") originally referred to the tribe of Judah. [cite web |url= |title=Who Is a Jew? |accessdate=2008-06-30 | ] Later, when the Northern Kingdom of Israel split from the Southern Kingdom of Israel, the Southern Kingdom of Israel began to refer to itself by the name of its predominant tribe, or as the Kingdom of Judah. The term originally referred to the people of the southern kingdom, although the term "B'nei Yisrael" (Israelites) was still used for both groups. After the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom leaving the southern kingdom as the only Israelite state, the word "Yehudim" gradually came to refer to people of the Jewish faith as a whole, rather than those specifically from the tribe or Kingdom of Judah. The English word "Jew" is ultimately derived from "Yehudi" (see Etymology). Its first use in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to refer to the Jewish people as a whole is in the Book of Esther.


There are many different views as to the origin of the English language word "Jew". The most common view is that the Middle English word "Jew" is from the Old French "giu", earlier "juieu", from the Latin "iudeus" from the Greek "Ioudaios" ("polytonic|Ἰουδαῖος"). The Latin simply means "Judaean", from the land of "Judaea". Judaea is in turn derived from Judah which was the name of the Kingdom of Judah, and one of the Tribes of Israel. The Hebrew word for Jew, יהודי , is pronounced IPA| [jə·hu·ˈdiː] .

The etymological equivalent is in use in other languages, e.g., "Jude" in German, "juif" in French, "jøde," in Danish, in Spanish (judío), etc., but derivations of the word "Hebrew" are also in use to describe a Jewish person, e.g., in Italian (Ebreo), and _ru. Еврей, ("Yevrey"). The German word "Jude" is pronounced IPA| [ˈjuː·də] and is the origin of the word Yiddish. (See Jewish ethnonyms for a full overview.)

Who is a Jew?

Judaism shares some of the characteristics of a nation, an ethnicity, a religion, and a culture, making the definition of who is a Jew vary slightly depending on whether a religious or national approach to identity is used. [cite web |url= |title=Who is a Jew? |accessdate=2007-10-06 |last=Weiner |first=Rebecca |coauthors= |year=2007 |work= |publisher=Jewish Virtual Library ] 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), and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion. [cite book |title=World Religions: An Introduction for Students |last=Fowler |first=Jeaneane D. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1997 |publisher=Sussex Academic Press |location= |isbn=1898723486 |pages=7 ] 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 4 to 8–10 million within the confines of the Roman Empire, in good part as a result of a wave of conversion. [Bauer, Yehuda. [ "Problems of Contemporary Anti-Semitism"] , 2003, p. 2. Retrieved February 24, 2008.]

Historical definitions of Jewish identity have traditionally been based on halakhic definitions of matrilineal descent, and halakhic conversions. Historical definitions of who is a Jew date back to the codification of the oral tradition into the Babylonian Talmud. Interpretations of sections of the Tanach, such as Deuteronomy 7:1-5, by learned Jewish sages, are used as a warning against intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews because " [the non-Jewish male spouse] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods of others." Leviticus 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 10:2-3, where Israelites returning from Babylon, vow to put aside their gentile wives and their children. Since the Haskalah, these halakhic interpretations of Jewish identity have been challenged.

Ethnic divisions

Within the world's Jewish population, which is considered a single self-identifying ethnicity, 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 were 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 from each other. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments; political, cultural, natural, and populational. Today, manifestation of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including 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 "Ashkenazim", or "Germans" (Ashkenaz meaning "Germany" in Medieval Hebrew, denoting their Central European base), and the "Sephardim", or "Spaniards" (Sefarad meaning "Spain" or "Iberia" 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, Bnei Menashe, Cochin Jews, and Bene Ephraim; the Romaniotes of Greece; the Italian Jews ("Italkim" or "Bené Roma"); the Teimanim from Yemen and Oman; various African Jews, including most numerously the Beta Israel of Ethiopia; and Chinese Jews, most notably the Kaifeng Jews, as well as various other distinct but now 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, 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, Lebanese Jews, Kurdish Jews, Libyan Jews, Syrian Jews, Bukharian Jews, Mountain Jews, Georgian Jews, and various others. The Teimanim from Yemen and Oman 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 and the Holocaust). [cite encyclopedia |last=Schmelz |first=Usiel Oscar |coauthors=Sergio DellaPergola |editor=Fred Skolnik |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia Judaica |title=Demography |edition=2d ed. |year=2007 |publisher=Thomson Gale |volume=5 |location=Farmington Hills, Mich. |isbn=0-02-865928-2 |pages=pp. 571 ] As a result of their emigration from Europe during the wartime periods, Ashkenazim also represent the overwhelming majority of Jews in the New World continents and in countries previously without native Jewish communities, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa. In France, emigration of Mizrahim from North Africa has led them to outnumber pre-existing European Jews. 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.

DNA and Jewish interrelationship

Despite the evident diversity displayed by the world's distinct Jewish populations, both culturally and physically, genetic studies have demonstrated most of these to be genetically related to one another, having ultimately originated from a common ancient Israelite population that underwent geographic branching and subsequent independent evolutions.

A study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that "the paternal gene 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 has become dispersed around the world.

Moreover, DNA tests have demonstrated substantially less inter-marriage in most of the various Jewish ethnic divisions over the last 3,000 years 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 by entirely gentile populations that adopted the Jewish faith, as in the notable case of the historic Khazars.cite journal|url= |title=Y Chromosome Bears Witness to Story of the Jewish Diaspora |journal=New York Times |month=May 9 |year=2000] [cite web |url= |title=Genetics and the Jewish identity |author=Diana Muir Appelbaum and Paul S. Appelbaum |work=The Jerusalem Post |date=February 11, 2008] Although groups such as the Khazars could have been absorbed into modern Jewish populations — in the Khazars' case, absorbed into the Ashkenazim — it is unlikely that they formed a large percentage of the ancestors of modern Ashkenazi Jews, and much less that they were the genesis of the Ashkenazim. [cite journal|url=|title=The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East|first=Almut|last=Nebel|coauthors=Dvora Filon, Bernd Brinkmann, Partha P. Majumder, Marina Faerman, and Ariella Oppenheim |journal=The American Journal of Human Genetics|month=November|year=2001|volume=69|issue=5|pages=1095–112| pmid=|doi=]

Even the archetype of Israelite-origin is also beginning to be reviewed for some Jewish populations amid newer studies. Previously, the Israelite origin identified in the world's Jewish populations was attributed only to the males who had migrated from the Middle East and then forged the current known communities with "the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism".cite journal|url=| title=New Light on Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe|first=Nicholas|last=Wade|journal=The New York Times|month=January 14|year=2006|accessdate=2006-05-24] Research in Ashkenazi Jews has suggested that, in addition to the male founders, significant female founder ancestry might also derive from the Middle East, with about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population descended matrilineally from just four women, or "founder lineages", that were "likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool" originating in the Near East in the first and second centuries CE.cite journal|url=| title=New Light on Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe|first=Nicholas|last=Wade|journal=The New York Times|month=January 14|year=2006|accessdate=2006-05-24]

Points in which Jewish groups differ is largely in the source and proportion of genetic contribution from host populations.cite journal
coauthors=Chiara Rengo, Fulvio Cruciani, Fiona Gratrix, James F. Wilson, Rosaria Scozzari, Vincent Macaulay, and Antonio Torroni
title=Extensive female-mediated gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa into near eastern Arab populations
journal=American Journal of Human Genetics
issn = 0002-9297
pmid = 12629598
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
] cite web|title=Jewish Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries|author=Ariella Oppenheim and Michael Hammer|publisher=Khazaria InfoCenter|url=] For example, Teimanim differ from other Mizrahim, as well as from Ashkenazim, in the proportion of sub-Saharan African gene types which have entered their gene pools.cite journal
coauthors=Chiara Rengo, Fulvio Cruciani, Fiona Gratrix, James F. Wilson, Rosaria Scozzari, Vincent Macaulay, and Antonio Torroni
title=Extensive female-mediated gene flow from sub-Saharan Africa into near eastern Arab populations
journal=American Journal of Human Genetics
issn = 0002-9297
pmid = 12629598
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
] Among Yemenites, the average stands at 35% lineages within the past 3,000 years. Yemenite Jews, as a traditionally Arabic-speaking community of local Yemenite and Israelite ancestries, are included within the findings, though they average a quarter of the frequency of the non-Jewish Yemenite sample. The proportion of male indigenous European genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to around 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, and a total admixture estimate "very similar to Motulsky's average estimate of 12.5%."cite journal|title=Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes|first=M. F.|last=Hammer|coauthors=A. J. Redd, E. T. Wood, M. R. Bonner, H. Jarjanazi, T. Karafet, S. Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Oppenheim, M. A. Jobling, T. Jenkins, H. Ostrer, and B. Bonné-Tamir|journal=Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences|month=May 9|year=2000|doi=10.1073/pnas.100115997|volume=97|pages=6769| pmid=10801975]

DNA analysis further determined that modern Jews of the priesthood tribe — "Cohanim" — share a common ancestor dating back about 3,000 years. This result is consistent for all Jewish populations around the world.cite journal|url=|title=Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests|first=M. F.|last=Hammer|coauthors=Karl Skorecki, Sara Selig, Shraga Blazer, Bruce Rappaport, Robert Bradman, Neil Bradman, P.J. Waburton, Monic Ismajlowicz |journal=NATURE, Volume 385|month=January 2|year=1997] The researchers estimated that the most recent common ancestor of modern Cohanim lived between 1000 BCE (roughly the time of the Biblical Exodus) and 586 BCE, when the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple. They found similar results analyzing DNA from Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.cite journal|url=|title=Priestly Gene Shared By Widely Dispersed Jews |journal=American Society For Technion, Israel Institute Of Technology |month=July 14|year=1998] 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.

Beyond intra-Jewish genetic interrelationships, other findings show that by the yardstick of the Y chromosome, the world's Jewish communities are closely related to Arab Israelis and Palestinians,cite web|last=Gibbons|first=Ann|title=Jews and Arabs Share Recent Ancestry|work=ScienceNOW|publisher=American Academy for the Advancement of Science|date=October 30, 2000|url= ] [Hammer, "et al". Figure 2: [ Plot of populations based on Y-chromosome haplotype data] .] who together as a single population also represent modern "descendants of a core population that lived in the area since prehistoric times", albeit religiously Christianized and later largely Islamized, and both ultimately culturally Arabized. The authors of one of the studies wrote that "the extremely close affinity of Jewish and non-Jewish Middle Eastern populations observed ... supports the hypothesis of a common Middle Eastern origin".cite journal|url=|title=Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes|first=M. F.|last=Hammer|coauthors=A. J. Redd, E. T. Wood, M. R. Bonner, H. Jarjanazi, T. Karafet, S. Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Oppenheim, M. A. Jobling, T. Jenkins, H. Ostrer, and B. Bonné-Tamir|journal=Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences|month=May 9|year=2000|doi=10.1073/pnas.100115997|volume=97|pages=6769| pmid=10801975]


ignificant geographic populations

There are an estimated 13 million Jews worldwide.Data based on a [ study] by "Jewish People Policy Institute" (JPPI): "World Jewry was estimated at 13,085,000 at thebeginning of 2006, an overall increase of 0.4% over 2005." See " [ Jewish people near zero growth] " by Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2004.] 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.

tate of Israel

Israel, the Jewish nation-state, is the only country in which Jews make up a majority of the citizens. [cite web |url= |title=Israel at 60 |accessdate=2008-07-03 |last=Telahoun |first=Tesfu |date=2008-03-11 |work=Capital Ethiopia ] [cite web |url= |title=The Case for a Larger Israel |accessdate=2008-07-03 |last=Naggar |first=David |date=2006-11-07 | ] Israel was established as an independent democratic state on May 14, 1948.cite web |url= |publisher=Central Intelligence Agency |work=The World Factbook |accessdate=2007-07-20 |date=2007-06-19 |title=Israel] Of the 120 members in its parliament, the Knesset, [cite web |url= |publisher=The Knesset |accessdate=2007-08-08 |title=The Electoral System in Israel] currently, 12 members of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel, most representing Arab political parties and one of Israel's Supreme Court judges is a Palestinian Arab. [cite web|title=Country's Report Israel|publisher=Freedom House|url=] Between 1948 and 1958, the Jewish population rose from 800,000 to two million. [cite web |url= |publisher=Israel Central Bureau of Statistics |accessdate=2007-08-07 |year=2006 |title=Population, by Religion and Population Group] Currently, Jews account for 76.4% of the Israeli population, or 5,600,000 of the citizens.The early years of the state of Israel, were marked by the mass immigration of Holocaust survivors and Jews fleeing Arab lands.harvnb|Dekmejian|1975|p=247. "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. [cite web |title=airlifted tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews |url= | accessmonthday= July 7 |accessyear=2005 ] Between 1974 and 1979 nearly 227,258 immigrants arrived in Israel, about half being from the Soviet Union. [" [ History of Dissident Movement in the USSR] " by Ludmila Alekseyeva. Vilnius, 1992 (in Russian)] This period also saw an increase in immigration to Israel from Western Europe, Latin America, and the United States [Goldstein (1995) p. 24] 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, 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 and elsewhere at the turn of the nineteenth century and later due to various causes, including the pogroms in Russia, the massacre of European Jewry during the Holocaust, and the foundation of the state of Israel (and subsequent Jewish exodus from Arab lands), all resulted in substantial shifts in the population centers of world Jewry by the end of the twentieth century.

Currently, the largest Jewish community in the world is located in the United States, with almost 5.7 million Jews. Elsewhere in the Americas, there are also large Jewish populations in Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, and smaller populations in Mexico (45,000), [ 2000 Tabulados de Religión] ] Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, and several other countries (see History of the Jews in Latin America).

Western Europe's largest Jewish community can be found in France, home to 600,000 Jews, the majority of whom are immigrants or refugees from North African Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia (or their descendants). There are over 265,000 Jews in the United Kingdom. In Eastern Europe, there are anywhere from 500,000 to over two million Jews living in the former Soviet Union, 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. [cite web |url= |title=Annual Assessment 2007 |accessdate=2008-07-03 |last=Waxman |first=Chaim I. |year=2007 |format=PDF |publisher=Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (Jewish Agency for Israel) |pages=pp. 40-42 ] Tens of thousands of Jews from the former Eastern Bloc have settled in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East were home to around 900,000 Jews in 1945. Fueled by anti-Zionism [cite web|title=The Ingathering of the Exiles|publisher=Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs|url=] 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). Today, around 8,000 Jews remain in Arab nations. Iran is home to around 10,800 Jews, down from a population of 100,000 Jews before the 1979 revolution. 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).Littman (1979), p. 5.]

Outside Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and the rest of Asia, there are significant Jewish populations in Australia and South Africa.

Population changes: 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. Some Jewish communities, for example the Kaifeng Jews of China, have disappeared entirely, but assimilation has remained relatively low over much of the past millennium, as Jews were often not allowed to integrate with the wider communities in which they lived. The advent of the Jewish Enlightenment (see Haskalah) of the 1700s and the subsequent emancipation of the Jewish populations of Europe and America in the 1800s, changed the situation, allowing 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 vary widely: In the United States, they are just under 50%, [cite web |title=NJPS: Intermarriage: Defining and Calculating Intermarriage |url= | accessmonthday= July 7 |accessyear=2005 ] in the United Kingdom, around 50%, in Australia and Mexico, as low as 10%, [cite web |title=World Jewish Congress Online |url= | accessmonthday= July 7 |accessyear=2005 ] [cite web |title=The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Mexico |url= | accessmonthday= July 7 |accessyear=2005 ] and in France, they may be as high as 75%. 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 have steady or slightly declining religiously Jewish populations as Jews continue to assimilate into the countries in which they live.

Population changes: Wars against the Jews

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 which resulted in the massacre of Jews; the Spanish Inquisition (led by Torquemada) and the Portuguese Inquisition, with their persecution and "Auto de fé" against the New Christians and Marrano Jews; the Bohdan Chmielnicki Cossack massacres in Ukraine; the Pogroms backed by the Russian Tsars; 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's Final Solution, which led to the Holocaust and the slaughter of approximately 6 million Jews from 1942 to 1945.

According to 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." [Carroll, James. "Constantine's Sword" (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) ISBN 0-395-77927-8 p.26] Of course, there are many other complex demographic factors involved; the rate of population growth, epidemics, migration, assimilation, and conversion could all have played major roles in the current size of the global Jewish population.

Population changes: 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 and Haredi Jewish communities, whose members often shun birth control for religious reasons, have experienced rapid population growth. [cite book |title=History of the Jews in Modern Times |last=Gartner |first=Lloyd P. |year=2001 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford |pages=pp. 400-401 |isbn=0-19-289259-2 ]

Orthodox and Conservative Judaism discourage proselytization to non-Jews, but many Jewish groups have tried to reach out to the assimilated Jewish communities of the Diaspora in order to increase the number of Jews. 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 so there is less chance of intermarriage. As a result of the efforts by these and other Jewish groups over the past twenty-five years, there has been a trend of secular Jews becoming more religiously observant, known as the "Baal Teshuva" 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 languages

Hebrew is the liturgical language of Judaism (termed "lashon ha-kodesh", "the holy tongue"), the language in which the Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh) were composed, and the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries. By the fifth century BCE, Aramaic, a closely related tongue, joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea.Grintz, Jehoshua M. [ "Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second Temple."] "Journal of Biblical Literature". March, 1960.] By the third century BCE, Jews of the diaspora were speaking Greek. Modern Hebrew is now one of the two official languages of the State of Israel along with Arabic.

Hebrew was revived as a spoken language by Eliezer ben Yehuda, who arrived in Palestine in 1881. It hadn't been used as a mother tongue since Tannaic times.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. [Parfitt, T. V. "The Use of Hebrew in Palestine 1800–1822." "Journal of Semitic Studies ", 1972.] For centuries, Jews worldwide have spoken the local or dominant languages of the regions they migrated to, often developing distinctive dialectal forms or branching off as independent languages. Yiddish is the Judæo-German language developed by Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to Central Europe, and Ladino is the Judæo-Spanish language developed by 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 lands, and widespread emigration from other Jewish communities around the world, ancient and distinct Jewish languages of several communities, including Gruzinic, Judæo-Arabic, Judæo-Berber, Krymchak, Judæo-Malayalam and many others, have largely fallen out of use.

The three most commonly spoken languages among Jews today are English, modern Hebrew, and Russian. Some Romance languages, such as French and Spanish, are also widely used. [cite web |url= |title=Jewish Languages |accessdate=2008-07-03 |publisher=Beth Hatefutsoth, The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora ]

Jewish culture

Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, and has been called not only a religion, but also a "way of life," [ Neusner (1991) p. 64 ] 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 world, in Europe before and after The Age of Enlightenment (see Haskalah), in Islamic Spain and Portugal, in North Africa and the Middle East, India and China, 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.

History of the Jews

:"See also: Timeline of Jewish history and Schisms among the Jews"

Jews and 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 both immigrants and emigrants (see: Jewish refugees) have shaped Jewish identity and religious practice in many ways, and are thus a major element of Jewish history. An incomplete list of such migrations includes:

*The patriarch Abraham was a migrant to the land of Canaan from Ur of the Chaldees.
*The Children of Israel experienced the Exodus (meaning "departure" or "exit" in Greek) from ancient Egypt, as recorded in the Book of Exodus.
*The Kingdom of Israel was sent into permanent exile and scattered all over the world (or at least to unknown locations) by Assyria.
*The Kingdom of Judah was exiled by Babylonia, then returned to Judea by Cyrus the Great of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, and then many 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, 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 to the Iberian Peninsula to Poland to the United States and to Israel.
*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, especially Poland.
*Following the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, the Spanish population of around 200,000 Sephardic Jews were expelled by the Spanish crown and 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.
*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), which was encouraged by Napoleon Bonaparte.
*The arrival of millions of Jews in the New World, 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 and History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union.
*The Pogroms in Eastern Europe, the rise of modern Anti-Semitism, 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.
*The Islamic Revolution of Iran forced many Iranian Jews to flee Iran. Most found refuge in the US (particularly Los Angeles, CA) and Israel. Smaller communities of Persian Jews exist in Canada and Western Europe. [cite encyclopedia |last=Netzer |first=Amnon |editor=Fred Skolnik |encyclopedia=Encyclopaedia Judaica |title=Iran |edition=2d ed. |year=2007 |publisher=Thomson Gale |volume=10 |location=Farmington Hills, Mich. |isbn=0-02-865928-2 |pages=p. 13 ]
*When the Soviet Union died, 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.

Kingdoms of Israel and Judah

Jews descend mostly from the ancient Israelites (also known as Hebrews), who settled in the Land of Israel. The Israelites traced their common lineage to the biblical patriarch Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. A United Monarchy was established under Saul and continued under King David and Solomon. King David conquered Jerusalem (first a Canaanite, then a Jebusite town) and made it his capital. After Solomon's reign, the nation split into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel (in the north) and the Kingdom of Judah (in the south). The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrian ruler Shalmaneser V in the 8th century BCE and spread all over the Assyrian empire, where they were assimilated into other cultures and came to be known as the Ten Lost Tribes. The Kingdom of Judah continued as an independent state until it was conquered by a Babylonian army in the early 6th century BCE, destroying the First Temple that was at the centre of Jewish worship. The Judean elite was exiled to Babylonia, but later at least a part of them returned to their homeland after the subsequent conquest of Babylonia by the Persians seventy years later, a period known as the Babylonian Captivity. A new Second Temple was constructed funded by Persian Kings, and old religious practices were resumed.

Persian, Greek, and Roman rule

:"See related article Jewish-Roman wars".

The Seleucid Kingdom, which arose after the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great, sought to introduce Greek culture into the Persian world. When the Greeks under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, supported by Hellenized Jews (those who had adopted Greek culture), attempted to convert the Jewish Temple to a temple of Zeus, the Jews revolted under the leadership of the Maccabees. After their victory, the Jews rededicated the Temple to God (hence the origins of "Hanukkah") and created an independent Jewish state known as the Hasmonaean Kingdom, which lasted from 165 BCE to 63 BCE, when it came under influence of the Roman Empire. During the early part of Roman rule, the Hasmonaeans remained in power, until the family was annihilated by Herod the Great. Herod came from a wealthy Idumean family and became a very successful client king under the Romans. He significantly expanded the Temple in Jerusalem.

Upon his death in 4 BCE the Romans directly ruled Judea and there were frequent changes of policies by conflicting and empire-building Caesars, generals, governors, and consuls who often acted cruelly or attempted to maximize their own wealth and power. Rome's attitudes swung from tolerance to hostility against its Jewish subjects, who had since moved throughout the Empire. The Romans, worshiping a large pantheon, could not readily accommodate the exclusive monotheism of Judaism, and the religious Jews could not accept Roman polytheism. (It was in this tumultuous climate that Christianity first emerged, among a small group of Jews.) After a famine and riots in 66 CE, the Jews in Judea began a revolt against Rome. The revolt was smashed by Titus Flavius, the son and successor of the Roman emperor Vespasian. In Rome the Arch of Titus still stands, showing enslaved Judeans and a "menorah" being brought to Rome. It is customary for Jews to walk around, rather than through, this arch. [cite book |title=The Jewish Home: A Guide for Jewish Living |last=Syme |first=Daniel B. |year=2004 |publisher=URJ Press |location=New York |pages=p. 87 |isbn=0-8074-0851-4 |quote=To this day, most Jews will not walk through the arch, and many will spit on it as they pass by. ]

The Romans destroyed most of Jerusalem but left the Western Wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount. After the end of this first revolt, the Jews continued to live in their land in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion. In the second century the Roman Emperor Hadrian began to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city while restricting some Jewish practices. Angry at this affront, the Jews again revolted led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Hadrian responded with overwhelming force, putting down the revolt and killing as many as half a million Jews. [Johnson (1987), p. 142.] After the Roman Legions prevailed in 135, Jews were not allowed to enter the city of Jerusalem and most Jewish worship was forbidden by Rome. [Johnson (1987), p. 143.] Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews, Jewish worship stopped being centrally organized around the Temple, and instead the rabbis took on a more prominent position as teachers and leaders of individual communities. No new books were added to the Jewish Bible after the Roman period, [Johnson (1987), pp. 95-96.] instead major efforts went into interpreting and developing the Halakhah, or oral law, and writing down these traditions in the Talmud, the key work on the interpretation of Jewish law, written during the first to fifth centuries CE. [Johnson (1987), p. 152.]

In 212, all Jews were made citizens of the Roman empire. Christianity became the sole state religion of the declining Roman empire, when Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan in 313. Jewish and Christian life evolved in "diametrically opposite directions" during the final centuries of Roman empire.Baron (1952), p. 200.] Jewish life became autonomous, decentralized, and community-centered, in contrast to Christian life, which became a rigid hierarchical system under the supreme authority of the Pope and the Roman Emperor.

Jewish life after the fall of Israel was basically democratic. Rabbis in the Talmud interpreted Deuteronomy 29:9, “your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel” as “Although I have appointed for you heads, elders, and officers, you are all equal before me” (Tanhuma). The Talmud stressed that rights always entailed responsibilities: “you are all responsible for one another.”

Jewish survival in the face of external pressures from the now Catholic Roman empire and Persian Zoroastrian empire is seen as ‘enigmatic’ by many historians.Baron (1952), p. 215.] For example, Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote “such an extraordinary phenomenon in world history and the history of religion that many a fine mind has doubted whether it can at all be explained in merely human terms”.

According to the famous Jewish historian, Salo Wittmayer Baron, a number of mechanisms of Jewish survival evolved during these crucial centuries between the fall of Israel and the fall of Rome. He describes at least eight factors that strengthened Judaism and Jewish society. 1. Messianic faith. Belief in an ultimately positive outcome and restoration of Israel.

2. Doctrine of the Hereafter was increasingly elaborated. Belief in an afterlife had been largely ignored during Biblical times. Now it was discussed more by the sages. It reconciled Jews with suffering in this world and helped them resist outside temptations to convert.

3. Suffering was given meaning through interpretation of Jewish history and destiny.

4. Doctrine of martyrdom and inescapability of persecution transformed both into a source of communal solidarity.

5. Jewish daily life was very satisfying. Although living throughout the Roman empire and Persian empire and beyond, Jews lived among Jews. In practice, in a lifetime, most Jews encountered overt persecution only on a few dramatic occasions. They mostly lived under discrimination that affected everyone, and to which they were habituated. Daily life was governed by a multiplicity of ritual requirements, so that Jews were constantly aware of their relationship with God throughout the day. “For the most part, he found this all-encompassing Jewish way of life so eminently satisfactory that he was prepared to sacrifice himself…for the preservation of its fundamentals.” [Baron (1952), p. 216.] Those commandments for which Jews had sacrificed their lives, such as defying idolatry, eating pork, observing circumcision, were the ones most strictly adhered to. 6. The corporate development and segregationist policies of late Roman empire and Persian empire, helped keep Jewish community organization strong.

7. The Talmud provided an extremely effective force to sustain Jewish ethics, law and culture, a benevolent judicial and social welfare system, universal education, to develop and sustain a strong, loving and sexually satisfying family life, and a satisfying religious life from birth to death.

8. The concentration of Jewish masses within ‘the lower middle class’ [Baron (1952), p. 217.] sustained middle class virtues of sexual self-control. Jews, unlike the cultures around them, followed a moderate path between ascetism and licentiousness. For Jews, marriage formed a strong foundation of ethnic, and ethical, life.

Hostility only helped cement Jewish unity and internal strength and commitment.

Beginning of the Diaspora

Though Jews had settled outside Israel since the time of the Babylonians, the results of the Roman response to the Jewish revolt shifted the center of Jewish life from its ancient home to the diaspora. While some Jews remained in Judea, renamed Palestine by the Romans, some Jews were sold into slavery, while others became citizens of other parts of the Roman Empire. This is the traditional explanation to the Jewish diaspora, almost universally accepted by past and present rabbinical or Talmudical scholars, who believe that Jews are almost exclusively biological descendants of the Judean exiles. In the six centuries before the rise of Islam, there was a mass migration out of Palestine (devastated by war, and after the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313, the pressure of the Christian mission) and into Syria, Babylonia and the Iranian Plateau, so that these areas "received a tremendous admixture of Jewish blood.” [Baron (1952), p. 210.]

Some secular historians speculate that a majority of the Jews in Antiquity were most likely descendants of converts in the cities of the Græco-Roman world, especially in Alexandria and Asia Minor.Johnson (1987), p. 112.] They were only affected by the diaspora in its spiritual sense and by the sense of loss and homelessness which became a cornerstone of the Jewish creed, much supported by persecutions in various parts of the world. Any such policy of conversion, which spread the Jewish religion throughout Hellenistic civilization, seems to have increased following the destruction of the Jewish state, and to have ended only when Christianity came to power. ["S. Safrai, 'The Era of the Mishnah and Talmud (70-640)' in H.H. Ben-Sasson, editor, History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, p. 364)] At the time of the Christian era the Jews in Egypt may have come to number about a million out of a total population of about seven and a half millions. [ F.E. Peters, "The Harvest of Hellenism" p. 296 ]

DNA evidence of this theory has been spotty, but some historians believe based on some historical records that at the dawn of Christianity as many as 10% of the population of the Roman Empire were Jewish, a figure that could only be explained by local conversion.

During the first few hundred years of the Diaspora, the most important Jewish communities were in Babylonia, where the Babylonian Talmud was written, and where relatively tolerant regimes allowed the Jews freedom. The situation was worse in the Byzantine Empire which treated the Jews much more harshly, refusing to allow them to hold office or build places of worship. In the belief of restoration to come, the Jews made an alliance with the Persians who invaded Palestine in 614, fought at their side, overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem, and for three years governed the city. But the Persians made their peace with the Emperor Heraclius. Christian rule was re-established, and those Jews who survived the consequent slaughter were once more banished from Jerusalem. Katz, Shmuel, Battleground (1974) ]

The conquest of much of the Byzantine Empire and Babylonia by Islamic armies generally improved the life of the Jews, though they were still considered second-class citizens. In response to these Islamic conquests, the First Crusade of 1096 attempted to reconquer Jerusalem, resulting in the destruction of many of the remaining Jewish communities in the area. The Jews were among the most vigorous defenders of Jerusalem against the Crusaders. [cite book |title=A History of the Crusades: The Impact of the Crusades on the Near East |last=Setton |first=Kenneth M. |coauthors=Norman P. Zacour and Harry W. Hazard |year=1985 |publisher=University of Wisconsin Press |location=Madison, Wisc. |pages=p. 69 |isbn=0-299-09144-9 ] When the city fell, the Crusaders gathered the Jews in a synagogue and burned them. [Setton "et al". (1985), p. 71.] The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the Crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June-July 1099). At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known to historians; they include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.

Middle Ages: Europe

Jews settled in Europe during the time of the Roman Empire. Early medieval society, before the Church became fully organized, was tolerant. Between 800 and 1100 there were 1.5 million Jews in Christian Europe. They were fortunate in not being part of the feudal system as serfs or knights, thus were spared the oppression and constant warfare that made life miserable for most Christians. Unlike lay Christians, most Jews were literate; they were cleaner and thus healthier than Christians, for example, dying in fewer numbers during the Black Death; and they were able to live under Jewish law, which was much fairer and more humane. In relations with the Christian society, they were protected by kings, princes and bishops, because of the crucial services they provided in three areas: financial, administrative and as doctors. Christian scholars interested in the Bible would even consult with Talmudic rabbis. All this changed with the reforms and strengthening of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the creations of the Franciscan and Dominican preaching monks, and the rise of envious and competitive middle-class, town-dwelling Christians. By 1300 the friars and local priests were using the Passion Plays at Easter time, which depicted Jews in contemporary dress killing Christ, to teach the general populace to hate and murder Jews. It was at this point that persecution and exile became endemic. Finally around 1500, Jews found security and a renewal of prosperity in Poland. [Norman F. Cantor, The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era, Free Press, 2004. ISBN-10: 0743226887, p. 28-29]

The Crusaders routinely attacked Jewish communities, [Johnson (1987), pp. 207-208.] and increasingly harsh laws restricted Jews from most economic activity and land ownership, leaving open only money-lending and a few other trades. [Johnson (1987), pp. 174, 211-213.] Jews were subject to expulsions from England, France, and the Holy Roman Empire after 1300, with most of the population moving to Eastern Europe and especially Poland, which was uniquely tolerant of the Jews through the 1700s. The final mass expulsion of the Jews, and the largest, occurred after the Christian conquest ("Reconquista") of Iberia in 1492 (see History of the Jews in Spain and History of the Jews in Portugal). After the end of the expulsions in the 17th century, individual conditions varied from country to country and time to time, but, as rule, Jews in Western Europe generally were forced, by decree or by informal pressure, to live in highly segregated ghettos and shtetls. By the beginning of the twentieth century, most European Jews lived in the so-called Pale of Settlement, the Western frontier of the Russian Empire consisting generally of the modern-day countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and neighboring regions.

Middle Ages: Islamic Europe, North Africa, Middle East

In the Iberian Peninsula, under Muslim rule, Jews were able to make great advances in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, chemistry, and philology. [Cowling (2005), p. 265] This era is sometimes referred to as the Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula.Poliakov (1974), pg.91-6]

During early Islam, Leon Poliakov writes, Jews enjoyed great privileges, and their communities prospered. There was no legislation or social barriers preventing them from conducting commercial activities. Many Jews migrated to areas newly conquered by Muslims and established communities there. The vizier of Baghdad entrusted his capital with Jewish bankers. The Jews were put in charge of certain parts of maritime and slave trade. Siraf, the principal port of the caliphate in the 10th century CE, had a Jewish governor. [Poliakov (1974), pg.68-71]

Throughout history, there have been numerous instances of pogroms against Jews. [ [ The Treatment of Jews in Arab/Islamic Countries] ] Examples include the 1066 Granada massacre, where the razing of the entire Jewish quarter in the Andalucian city of Granada in 1066. [ [ Granada] by Richard Gottheil, Meyer Kayserling, "Jewish Encyclopedia". 1906 ed. ] In North Africa, there were cases of violence against Jews in the Middle Ages, [ cite web|url=|title=The Jews of Morocco] and in other Arab lands including Egypt, [cite web|url=|title=The Jews of Egypt] Syria, [cite web|url=|title=The Jews of Syria] and Yemen. [cite web|url=|title=The Jews of Yemen]

The Almohads, who had taken control of much of Islamic Iberia by 1172, far surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist outlook, and they treated the "dhimmis" harshly. Jews and Christians were expelled from Morocco and Islamic Spain. [ [ The Forgotten Refugees] ] Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, some Jews, such as the family of Maimonides, fled south and east to the more tolerant Muslim lands, while others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms. [ [ Sephardim] ] [ Kraemer, Joel L., "Moses Maimonides: An Intellectual Portrait" in "The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides" pp. 16-17 (2005) ]

Enlightenment and emancipation

During the Age of Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. The Haskalah movement paralleled the wider Enlightenment, as Jews began in the 1700s to abandon their exclusiveness and acquiring the knowledge, manners, and aspirations of the wider European society. Secular and scientific education was added to the traditional religious instruction received by students, and interest in a national Jewish identity, including a revival in the study of Jewish history and Hebrew, started to grow. [cite web |url= |title=Haskalah |accessdate=2008-02-09 |last=Rosenthal |first=Herman |coauthors= |year=2002 |work= |publisher=Jewish Encyclopedia]

The Haskalah movement influenced the birth of all the modern Jewish denominations, and planted the seeds of Zionism. At the same time, it contributed to encouraging cultural assimilation into the countries in which Jews resided, as well as the nineteenth century Reform movement in Judaism. At around the same time another movement was born, one preaching almost the opposite of Haskalah, Hasidic Judaism. Hasidic Judaism began in the 1700s by Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, and quickly gained a following with its exuberant, mystical approach to religion. These two movements, and the traditional orthodox approach to Judaism from which they spring, formed the basis for the modern divisions within Jewish observance.

At the same time, the outside world was changing. In 1791, France became the first European country to emancipate its Jewish population, granting them equal rights under the law. [Johnson (1987), p. 306.] Napoleon further spread emancipation, inviting Jews to leave the Jewish ghettos in Europe and seek refuge in the newly created tolerant political regimes (see Napoleon and the Jews). Other countries such as Denmark, England, and Sweden also adopted liberal policies toward Jews during the period of Enlightenment, with some resulting immigration. By the mid-19th century, almost all Western European countries had emancipated their Jewish populations, with the notable exception of the Papal States, but persecution continued in Eastern Europe including massive pogroms at the end of the 19th century and throughout the Pale of Settlement. The persistence of anti-semitism, both violently in the east and socially in the west, led to a number of Jewish political movements, culminating in Zionism.

Zionism and emigration from Europe

Zionism is an international political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. Although its origins are earlier, the movement was formally established by the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl in the late nineteenth century. [Johnson (1987), pp. 374, 402.] The international movement was eventually successful in establishing the State of Israel in 1948, as the world's first and only modern Jewish State. It continues primarily as support for the state and government of Israel and its continuing status as a homeland for the Jewish people. ["An international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel." ("Zionism," Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary). See also [ "Zionism"] , "Encyclopedia Britannica", which describes it as a "Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisra'el, “the Land of Israel”)," and The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, which defines it as "A Jewish movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Modern Zionism is concerned with the support and development of the state of Israel." ] Described as a "diaspora nationalism," [Ernest Gellner, 1983. Nations and Nationalism (First edition), p 107-108.] its proponents regard it as a national liberation movement whose aim is the self-determination of the Jewish people. [A national liberation movement:
*"Zionism is a modern national liberation movement whose roots go far back to Biblical times." (Rockaway, Robert. [ Zionism: The National Liberation Movement of The Jewish People] , World Zionist Organization, January 21, 1975, accessed August 17, 2006).
*"The aim of Zionism was principally the liberation and self-determination of the Jewish people...", Shlomo Avineri. ( [ Zionism as a Movement of National Liberation] , Hagshama department of the World Zionist Organization, December 12, 2003, accessed August 17, 2006).
*"Political Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, emerged in the 19th century within the context of the liberal nationalism then sweeping through Europe." (Neuberger, Binyamin. [ Zionism - an Introduction] , Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 20, 2001, accessed August 17, 2006).
*"The vicious diatribes on Zionism voiced here by Arab delegates may give this Assembly the wrong impression that while the rest of the world supported the Jewish national liberation movement the Arab world was always hostile to Zionism." (Chaim Herzog, [ Statement in the General Assembly by Ambassador Herzog on the item "Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination", November 10 1975.] , Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 11, 1975, accessed August 17, 2006).
* [ Zionism: one of the earliest examples of a national liberation movement] , written submission by the World Union for Progressive Judaism to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Sixtieth session, Item 5 and 9 of the provisional agenda, January 27, 2004, accessed August 17, 2006.
*"Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people and the state of Israel is its political expression." (Avi Shlaim, [ A debate: Is Zionism today the real enemy of the Jews?] , "International Herald Tribune", February 4, 2005, accessed August 17, 2006.
*"But Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people." (Philips, Melanie. [ Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews’: opposed by Melanie Phillips] ,, accessed August 17, 2006.
*"Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future." ( [ What is Zionism (The Jerusalem Program)] , Hadassah, accessed August 17, 2006.
*"Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people." (Harris, Rob. [ Ireland's Zionist slurs like Iran, says Israel] , "Jewish Telegraph", December 16, 2005, accessed August 17, 2006.

While Zionism is based in part upon religious tradition linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, where the concept of Jewish nationhood is thought to have first evolved somewhere between 1200 BCE and the late Second Temple era (that is, up to 70 CE), ["...from Zion, where King David fashioned the first Jewish nation" (Friedland, Roger and Hecht, Richard "To Rule Jerusalem", p. 27).] ["By the late Second Temple times, when widely held Messianic beliefs were so politically powerful in their implications and repercussions, and when the significance of political authority, territorial sovereignty, and religious belief for the fate of the Jews as a people was so widely and vehemently contested, it seems clear that Jewish nationhood was a social and cultural reality". (Roshwald, Aviel. "Jewish Identity and the Paradox of Nationalism", in Berkowitz, Michael (ed.). "Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond", p. 15).] the modern movement was mainly secular, beginning largely as a response by European Jewry to rampant antisemitism across Europe. [Largely a response to anti-Semitism:
*"A Jewish movement that arose in the late 19th century in response to growing anti-Semitism and sought to reestablish a Jewish homeland in Palestine." ("Zionism", The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).
*"The Political Zionists conceived of Zionism as the Jewish response to anti-Semitism. They believed that Jews must have an independent state as soon as possible, in order to have a place of refuge for endangered Jewish communities." (Wylen, Stephen M. "Settings of Silver: An Introduction to Judaism", Second Edition, Paulist Press, 2000, p. 392).
*"Zionism, the national movement to return Jews to their homeland in Israel, was founded as a response to anti-Semitism in Western Europe and to violent persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe." (Calaprice, Alice. "The Einstein Almanac", Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, p. xvi).
*"The major response to anti-semitism was the emergence of Zionism under the leadership of Theodor Herzl in the late nineteenth century." (Matustik, Martin J. and Westphal, Merold. "Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity", Indiana University Press, 1995, p. 178).
*"Zionism was founded as a response to anti-Semitism, principally in Russia, but took off when the worst nightmare of the Jews transpired in Western Europe under Nazism." (Hollis, Rosemary. PDFlink| [ The Israeli-Palestinian road block: can Europeans make a difference?] |57.9 KiB , "International Affairs" 80, 2 (2004), p. 198).

In addition to responding politically, during the late 19th century, Jews began to flee the persecutions of Eastern Europe in large numbers, mostly by heading to the United States, but also to Canada and Western Europe. By 1924, almost two million Jews had emigrated to the US alone, creating a large community in a nation relatively free of the persecutions of rising European antisemitism (see History of the Jews in the United States).

The Holocaust

This antisemitism reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany, which made the destruction of the Jews a priority, culminating in the killing of approximately six million Jews during the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945.cite web |url= | |accessdate=2007-08-15 |publisher=] At first the Nazis used death squads or Einsatzgruppen to conduct massive open-air killings of Jews and others in territory they conquered. By 1942, the Nazi leadership decided to implement the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews of Europe, and to increase the pace of the Holocaust by establishing extermination camps specifically to kill Jews. [ Manvell, Roger "Goering" New York:1972 Ballantine Books--War Leader Book #8 Ballantine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century] [ Ukrainian mass Jewish grave found] ] This was an industrial method of genocide. Millions of Jews who had been hitherto confined to diseased and massively overcrowded ghettos were transported (often by train) to "Death-camps" where some were herded into a specific location (often a gas chamber), then either gassed or shot. Afterwards, their remains were buried or burned. Others were interned in the camps where they were given little food and disease was common.


In 1948, the Jewish state of Israel was founded,cite web |url= |publisher=National Public Radio |title=Part 3: Partition, War and Independence |work=The Mideast: A Century of Conflict |accessdate=2007-07-13 |date=2002-10-02] creating the first Jewish nation since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the majority of the 850,000 Jews previously living in North Africa and the Middle East fled to Israel, [ cite news |last=Bermani |first=Daphna|url=|title=Sephardi Jewry at odds over reparations from Arab world |date=November 14, 2003|] joining an increasing number of immigrants from post-War Europe (see Jewish exodus from Arab lands). By the end of the 20th century, Jewish population centers had shifted dramatically, with the United States and Israel being the centers of Jewish secular and religious life.


:"Related articles: Antisemitism, History of antisemitism, New antisemitism"

The Jewish people and Judaism 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 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. Later in medieval Western Europe, further persecutions of Jews in the name of Christianity occurred, notably during the Crusades—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 (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. 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. [ [ "A Catholic Timeline of Events Relating to Jews, Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust, From the 3rd century to the Beginning of the Third Millennium"] ]

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 to administer their internal affairs, but 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 such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. [ Lewis (1987), p. 9, 27 ] Many of the disabilities were highly symbolic. The one described by Bernard Lewis as "most degrading" was the requirement of distinctive clothing, not found in the Qur'an or hadith but invented in 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. [Lewis (1999), p.131; (1984), pp.8,62] Notable exceptions include the massacre of Jews and/or forcible conversion of some Jews by the rulers of the Almohad dynasty in Al-Andalus in the 12th century, [Lewis (1984), p. 52; Stillman (1979), p.77] as well as in Islamic Persia, [Lewis (1984), pp. 17-18, 94-95; Stillman (1979), p. 27] and the forced confinement of Morrocan Jews to walled quarters known as mellahs beginning from the 15th century and especially in the early 19th century. [Lewis (1984), p. 28.] 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, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Turkish Refah Partisi." [ Muslim Anti-Semitism] by Bernard Lewis (Middle East Quarterly) June 1998]

The most notable modern day persecution of Jews remains the Holocaust — the state-led systematic persecution and genocide of European Jews (and certain communities of North African Jews in European controlled North Africa) and other minority groups of Europe during World War II by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. [Donald L Niewyk, "The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust," Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II." However, the Holocaust usually includes all of the different victims who were systematically murdered.] The persecution and genocide were accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II. Concentration camps were established in which inmates were used as slave labour until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Third Reich conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen 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. 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.]

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, business, etc. The number of Jewish Nobel prize winners (approximately 160 in all), is far out of proportion to the percentage of Jews in the world's population. ["Throughout the 20th century, Jews, more so than any other minority, ethnic or cultural group, have been recipients of the Nobel Prize -- perhaps the most distinguished award for human endeavor in the six fields for which it is given. Remarkably, Jews constitute almost one-fifth of all Nobel laureates. This, in a world in which Jews number just a fraction of 1 percent of the population." Stephen Mark Dobbs. [ As the Nobel Prize marks centennial, Jews constitute 1/5 of laureates] , "j.", October 12, 2001.]

ee also

More complete guides to topics related to the Jews is available from the guide at the or of this page. Some topics of interest include:
*Ashkenazi Jews
*Sephardi Jews
*Mizrahi Jews
*Jewish identity
*Jewish languages
*Jewish population
*Jewish intermarriage
**Basic Laws of Israel
**Politics of Israel
**Law of Return
*List of Jews



*Baron, Salo Wittmayer (1952). "A Social and Religious History of the Jews," Volume II, "Ancient Times", Part II. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.
*cite book |first=Geoffrey |last=Cowling |title=Introduction to World Religions |publisher=First Fortress Press |location=Singapore |year=2005 |id=ISBN 0-8006-3714-3
*citation|title=Patterns of Political Leadership: Egypt, Israel, Lebanon|last=Dekmejian|first=R. Hrair|publisher=State University of New York Press|year=1975|isbn=087395291X
* cite book |last=Goldstien |first=Joseph |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Jewish History in Modern Times
year=1995 |publisher=Sussex Academic Press |location= |isbn=1898723060

*cite book |title=A History of the Jews |last=Johnson |first=Paul |authorlink=Paul Johnson (writer) |year=1987 |publisher=HarperCollins |location=New York |isbn=0-06-091533-1
*cite book |last=Katz |first=Shmuel |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine |year=1974 |publisher=Taylor Productions |location= |isbn=0-929093-13-5
*Lewis, Bernard (1984). "The Jews of Islam". Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8
*Lewis, Bernard (1999). "Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice". W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-31839-7
*cite book |last=Neusner |first=Jacob |title=Studying Classical Judaism: A Primer |year=1991 |publisher=Westminster John Knox Press |isbn=0664251366
*Poliakov, Leon (1974). "The History of Anti-semitism." New York: The Vanguard Press.
*Stillman, Norman (1979). "The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book". Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0198-0

External links


* [ Jewish Virtual Library]
* [ Judaism 101]
* [ Maps related to Jewish history]

ecular organizations

* [ American Jewish Committee]
* [ American Jewish Congress]
* [ Anti-Defamation League]
* [ B'nai B'rith International]
* [ Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life]
* [ United Jewish Communities: The Federations of North America]

Religious organizations

* [ Aish HaTorah] (Orthodox)
* [ ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal] (Renewal)
* [ American Sephardi Federation] (Sephardic)
* [ Chabad Lubavitch] (Chabad)
* [ Jewish Reconstructionist Federation] (Reconstructionist)
* [ The Karaite Korner] (Karaite)
* [ The Orthodox Union] (Orthodox)
* [ Society for Humanistic Judaism] (Humanistic)
* [ Union for Reform Judaism] (Reform)
* [ The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism] (Conservative)

Zionist organizations

* [ Ameinu]
* [ Hadassah: the Women's Zionist Organization of America]
* [ The Jewish Agency for Israel]
* [ Religious Zionists of America]
* [ World Mizrachi Movement]
* [ World Zionist Organization]
* [ Zionist Organization of America]

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  • JEW — (Heb. יְהוּדִי, Yehudi). Semantics The word Jew passed into the English language from the Greek (Ioudaios) by way of the Latin (Judaeus), and is found in early English (from about the year 1000) in a variety of forms: Iudea, Gyu, Giu, Iuu, Iuw,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • jew — jew; jew·el·er; jew·el·lery; jew·el·ry; jew·ely; jew·ess; jew·ish·ness; jew·ism; jew·ry; jew·el; jew·ish; jew·el·ler; jew·el·ly; jew·ish·ly; …   English syllables

  • Jew — Jew, n. [OF. Juis, pl., F. Juif, L. Judaeus, Gr. ?, fr. ? the country of the Jews, Judea, fr. Heb. Y[e^]h[=u]d[=a]h Judah, son of Jacob. Cf. {Judaic}.] 1. Originally, one belonging to the tribe or kingdom of Judah; after the return from the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • jew —    ‘Jew’, used as a term of address, now tends to be aggressive but was not always so. In literature it occurs from time to time. especially in plays or books like The Merchant of Venice where a Jewish character is important to the plot. Shylock… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • jew — (v.) to cheat, to drive a hard bargain, 1824, from JEW (Cf. Jew) (n.) (Cf. GYP (Cf. gyp), WELSH (Cf. welsh), etc.). The campaign to eliminate it in early 20c. was so successful that people began to avoid the noun and adjective, too, and started… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Jew — (n.) late 12c. (in plural, giwis), from Anglo Fr. iuw, O.Fr. giu, from L. Judaeum (nom. Judaeus), from Gk. Ioudaios, from Aramaic jehudhai (Heb. y hudi) Jew, from Y hudah Judah, lit. celebrated, name of Jacob s fourth son and of the tribe… …   Etymology dictionary

  • jew — [jo͞o] vt. [< JEW, by assoc. with occupation of Jews as moneylenders in Middle Ages] Slang to swindle; cheat; gyp to swindle; cheat; gyp jew someone down to get or bargain for better terms from someone in a business transaction, esp. in a… …   English World dictionary

  • Jew|ry — «JOO ree», noun, plural ries. 1. Jews as a group; Jewish people. 2. Archaic. a district where Jews live; ghetto. 3. Archaic. the land of the Jews: »Alexas did revolt, and went to Jewry On affairs of Antony (Shakespeare). ╂[< Old French juerie… …   Useful english dictionary

  • jew|el — «JOO uhl», noun, verb, eled, el|ing or (especially British) elled, el|ling. –n. 1. a precious stone; gem. 2. a) a valuable ornament to be worn, set with precious stones: »Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop s …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jew — [dʒu:] n [Date: 1100 1200; : Old French; Origin: gyu, from Latin Judaeus, from Greek Ioudaios, from Hebrew Yehudhi, from Yehudhah Judah, Jewish kingdom ] someone whose religion is Judaism, or who is a member of a group whose traditional religion… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Jew — [ dʒu ] noun count * 1. ) a member of the group of people who lived in Israel and believed in Judaism in ancient times, and who now live in many places all over the world, including Israel 2. ) someone who believes in Judaism …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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