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Ashkenazi Jews ( are a
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jewish
diaspora population who coalesced in the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
around the end of the first millennium. The traditional diaspora language of Ashkenazi Jews is
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the ...

Yiddish
(a
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic language
with elements of
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
,
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
, and
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
), developed after they had moved into northern Europe: beginning with Germany and France in the Middle Ages. For centuries they used
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
only as a
sacred language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
, until the revival of Hebrew as a common language in 20th century's Israel. Throughout their time in Europe, Ashkenazim have made many important contributions to its philosophy, scholarship, literature, art, music and science. The term "Ashkenazi" refers to Jewish settlers who established communities along the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
river in Western Germany and in Northern France dating to the Middle Ages. Once there, they adapted traditions carried from
Babylon Babylon was the capital city of the ancient Babylonian empire, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the Mesopotamian area in antiquity. These two empires achieved regional dominance between the 19th and 15th centu ...

Babylon
, the
Holy Land The Holy Land (: , la, Terra Sancta; : or ) is an area roughly located between the and the Eastern Bank of the . Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical and with the . The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory ro ...

Holy Land
, and the Western Mediterranean to their new environment. The Ashkenazi religious rite developed in cities such as
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
,
Worms The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is a taxonomic database that aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms. Content The content of the registry is edited and maintained by scientific specialists ...
, and
Troyes Troyes () is a Communes of France, commune and the capital of the Departments of France, department of Aube in the Grand Est region of north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about south-east of Paris. Troyes is situated within ...
. The eminent French '' Rishon'' Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki (
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
) would have a significant influence on the Jewish religion. In the late
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, due to religious persecution, the majority of the Ashkenazi population shifted steadily eastward, moving out of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
into the areas later part of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
, comprising parts of present-day
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
,
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
,
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
,
Moldova Moldova (, ; ), officially the Republic of Moldova ( ro, Republica Moldova), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to ...

Moldova
,
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
Slovakia Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...

Slovakia
, and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
. In the course of the late 18th and 19th centuries, those Jews who remained in or returned to the German lands generated a cultural reorientation; under the influence of the
Haskalah The ''Haskalah'', often termed Jewish Enlightenment ( he, השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organ ...
and the struggle for emancipation, as well as the intellectual and cultural ferment in urban centers, they gradually abandoned the use of Yiddish and adopted
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, while developing new forms of Jewish religious life and cultural identity.
The Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify wi ...
of the Second World War decimated the Ashkenazim, affecting almost every Jewish family. It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi Jews composed three percent of the world's total Jewish population, while an estimate made in 1930 (near the population's peak) had them as 92 percent of the world's Jews. Immediately prior to the Holocaust, the number of Jews in the world stood at approximately 16.7 million., based on Statistical figures vary for the contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, ranging from 10 million to 11.2 million. Sergio Della Pergola, in a rough calculation of
Sephardic Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or sefarditas), pt, Judeus sefarditas or His ...
and
Mizrahi Jews Mizrahi Jews ( he, יהודי המִזְרָח) or ''Mizrahim'' (), also sometimes referred to as Mizrachi (), Edot HaMizrach (; ) or Oriental Jews, are the descendants of the local Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO ...
, implies that Ashkenazi Jews make up 65–70% of Jews worldwide. Della Pergola does not analyze or mention the Ashkenazi statistics, but the figure is implied by his rough estimate that in 2000, Oriental and Sephardi Jews constituted 26% of the population of world Jewry. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.''Focus on Genetic Screening Research'', ed. Sandra R. Pupecki, p. 58 Genetic studies on Ashkenazim—researching both their paternal and maternal lineages, as well as
autosomal An autosome is any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome (an allosome). The members of an autosome pair in a diploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the ...
DNA—indicate that Ashkenazim are of mixed Levantine and European (mainly Western/Southern European) ancestry. These studies have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of their European admixture, with some focusing on the extent of the European genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages, which is in contrast to the predominant Middle Eastern genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi paternal lineages.


Etymology

The name ''Ashkenazi'' derives from the biblical figure of
Ashkenaz Ashkenaz ( he, אַשְׁכְּנָז) in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. Thes ...

Ashkenaz
, the first son of
Gomer Gomer ( he, ''Gōmer'', ; el, Γαμὲρ, translit=Gamér) was the eldest son of Japheth (and of the Japhetic line), and father of Ashkenaz (Bible), Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah, according to the "Table of Nations" in the Hebrew Bible (Book ...
, son of Japhet, son of
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of t ...

Noah
, and a
Japhetic Japhetite (in adjective form Japhethitic or Japhetic) in Abrahamic religions is an obsolete historical Biblical terminology for race coined in 18th century ethnology and linguistics for the peoples supposedly descended from Japheth, one of the thr ...
patriarch The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Or ...

patriarch
in the
Table of Nations The Generations of Noah or Table of Nations, broadly referred to as ''Origines Gentium'', is a genealogy of the sons of Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world o ...

Table of Nations
(
Genesis 10 230px, The world as known to the Mosaic account (1854 map, ''Historical Textbook and Atlas of Biblical Geography'' by Lyman Coleman">Biblical_cosmology.html" ;"title="Hebrews according to the Biblical cosmology">Mosaic account (1854 map, ''Histo ...
). The name of Gomer has often been linked to the ethnonym
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (also Kimmerians; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
. Biblical ''Ashkenaz'' is usually derived from ''Aškūza'' (
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is nam ...

cuneiform
''Aškuzai/Iškuzai''), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). Or ...
,;Russell E. Gmirkin
''Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch''
T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 2006 pp. 148, 149 n.57.
the name ''Aškūza'' is usually associated with the name of the
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
.Sverre Bøe, ''Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38–39 as Pre-text for Revelation 19, 17–21 and 20, 7–10'', Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001, p. 48: "An identification of Ashkenaz and the Scythians must not ... be considered as sure, though it is more probable than an identification with Magog." Nadav Na'aman, ''Ancient Israel and Its Neighbors: Interaction and Counteraction'', Eisenbrauns, 2005, p. 364 and note 37. Jits van Straten
The Origin of Ashkenazi Jewry: The Controversy Unraveled.
2011. p. 182.
Vladimir Shneider, ''Traces of the Ten''. Beer-sheva, Israel 2002. p. 237 The intrusive ''n'' in the Biblical name is likely due to a scribal error confusing a ''vav'' with a ''nun'' .Paul Kriwaczek
''Yiddish Civilisation''
Hachette 2011 p. 173 n. 9.
In
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...
51:27, Ashkenaz figures as one of three kingdoms in the far north, the others being Minni and Ararat, perhaps corresponding to
Urartu Urartu () is a geographical region commonly used as the for the kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its , the Kingdom of Van, centered around in the historic . The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into grad ...

Urartu
, called on by God to resist Babylon. In the
Yoma Yoma (Aramaic language, Aramaic: יומא, lit. "The Day") is the fifth tractate of ''Moed, Seder Moed'' ("Order of Festivals") of the ''Mishnah'' and of the ''Talmud''. It is concerned mainly with the laws of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, on whi ...
tractate of the
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''ha ...

Babylonian Talmud
the name Gomer is rendered as ''Germania'', which elsewhere in rabbinical literature was identified with in northwestern Syria, but later became associated with ''Germania''. Ashkenaz is linked to , viewed as the cradle of Germanic tribes, as early as a 6th-century gloss to the Historia Ecclesiastica of
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), ...

Eusebius
."Ashkenaz"
in Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (eds.) ''
Encyclopaedia Judaica The ''Encyclopaedia Judaica'' is a 22-volume English-language encyclopedia of the Jewish people and of Judaism. It covers diverse areas of the Jewish world and civilization, including Jewish history of all eras, culture, Jewish holiday, holidays, ...
'', 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, Gale Virtual Reference Library, 2007. 569–71. Yoma 10a
In the 10th-century ''History of Armenia'' of (1.15) Ashkenaz was associated with
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
, as it was occasionally in Jewish usage, where its denotation extended at times to
Adiabene Adiabene (from the Ancient Greek , ''Adiabene'', itself derived from syc, ܚܕܝܐܒ, ' or ', Middle Persian: ''Nodshēragān'', Armenian language, Armenian: Նոր Շիրական, ''Nor Shirakan'', Hebrew: ''חדייב'', ''Hadaiav'') was an anci ...
,
Khazaria The Khazars; he, כוזרים, Kuzarim; la, Gazari, or ; zh, 突厥曷薩 ; 突厥可薩部 ''Tūjué Kěsà bù'' () were a semi-nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fix ...

Khazaria
,
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on mos ...

Crimea
and areas to the east.Abraham N. Polia
"Armenia"
in Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (eds), ''
Encyclopaedia Judaica The ''Encyclopaedia Judaica'' is a 22-volume English-language encyclopedia of the Jewish people and of Judaism. It covers diverse areas of the Jewish world and civilization, including Jewish history of all eras, culture, Jewish holiday, holidays, ...
'', 2nd.ed. Macmillan Reference. Detroit, Gale Virtual Reference Library 2007, Vol. 2, pp. 472–74
His contemporary
Saadia Gaon Sa'adiah ben Yosef Gaon ( ar, سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي ''Saʻīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi''; he, סעדיה בן יוסף אלפיומי גאון; alternative English Names: Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon ("our Rabbi heSaadia Gaon"), often a ...
identified Ashkenaz with the ''Saquliba'' or Slavic territories,David Malkiel
''Reconstructing Ashkenaz: The Human Face of Franco-German Jewry, 1000–1250''
Stanford University Press, 2008, p. 263 n.1.
and such usage covered also the lands of tribes neighboring the Slavs, and Eastern and Central Europe. In modern times,
Samuel KraussSamuel Krauss (Ukk, 18 February 1866 - Cambridge, 4 June 1948) was professor at the Jewish Teachers' Seminary, Budapest, 1894–1906, and at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Vienna, 1906–1938. He moved to England as a refugee and spent his last yea ...
identified the Biblical "Ashkenaz" with
Khazaria The Khazars; he, כוזרים, Kuzarim; la, Gazari, or ; zh, 突厥曷薩 ; 突厥可薩部 ''Tūjué Kěsà bù'' () were a semi-nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fix ...

Khazaria
. Sometime in the
Early Medieval The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
period, the Jews of central and eastern Europe came to be called by this term. Conforming to the custom of designating areas of Jewish settlement with biblical names, Spain was denominated ''Sefarad'' (
Obadiah Obadiah (; he, עֹבַדְיָה  – ''ʿŌḇaḏyā'' or  – ''ʿŌḇaḏyāhū''; "servant of Yah") is a biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religiou ...
20), France was called ''Tsarefat'' ( 1 Kings 17:9), and
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a culture, cultural, ethnic gr ...

Bohemia
was called the ''
Land of Canaan Land is the solid surface of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is ...

Land of Canaan
''. By the
high medieval The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
period, Talmudic commentators like
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
began to use ''Ashkenaz/Eretz Ashkenaz'' to designate
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...
, earlier known as '' Loter'', where, especially in the
Rhineland The Rhineland (german: Rheinland; french: Rhénanie; nl, Rijnland; ksh, Rhingland; Latinised name: ''Rhenania'') is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly Middle Rhine, its middle section. Term ...

Rhineland
communities of
Speyer Speyer (, older spelling ''Speier'', known as ''Spire'' in French and formerly as ''Spires'' in English) is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located on the left bank of the river Rhine, Speyer lies ...

Speyer
,
Worms The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is a taxonomic database that aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms. Content The content of the registry is edited and maintained by scientific specialists ...
and
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
, the most important Jewish communities arose. Rashi uses ''leshon Ashkenaz'' (Ashkenazi language) to describe German speech, and Byzantium and Syrian Jewish letters referred to the
Crusaders The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusaders
as Ashkenazim. Given the close links between the Jewish communities of France and Germany following the Carolingian unification, the term Ashkenazi came to refer to the Jews of both medieval Germany and France.


History


Jewish settlement of Europe in antiquity

Jewish communities appeared in southern Europe as early as the third century BCE, in the Aegean Islands, Greece, and Italy. Jews migrated to southern Europe from the Middle East voluntarily for opportunities in trade and commerce. Following
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
's conquests, Jews migrated to Greek settlements in the Eastern Mediterranean, spurred on by economic opportunities. Jewish economic migration to southern Europe is also believed to have occurred during the Roman era. Regarding Jewish settlements founded in southern Europe during the Roman era, E. Mary Smallwood wrote that "no date or origin can be assigned to the numerous settlements eventually known in the west, and some may have been founded as a result of the dispersal of Palestinian Jews after the revolts of AD 66–70 and 132–135, but it is reasonable to conjecture that many, such as the settlement in
Puteoli Pozzuoli (; ; ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides many of the basic civil fu ...
attested in 4 BC, went back to the late republic or early empire and originated in voluntary emigration and the lure of trade and commerce." In 63 BCE, the Siege of Jerusalem saw the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
conquer Judea, and thousands of Jewish prisoners of war were brought to Rome as slaves. After gaining their freedom, they settled permanently in Rome as traders. It is likely that there was an additional influx of Jewish slaves taken to southern Europe by Roman forces after the capture of Jerusalem by the forces of
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Empire, Roman client state, client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian Kingdom of Judea, Herodian kingdom. He is known for his colossal building p ...
with assistance from Roman forces in 37 BCE. It is known that Jewish war captives were sold into slavery after the suppression of a minor Jewish revolt in 53 BCE, and some were probably taken to southern Europe. The Roman Empire decisively crushed two large-scale Jewish rebellions in Judea, the
First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt ( he, המרד הגדול '), or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Isra ...
, which lasted from 66 to 73 CE, and the
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, מֶרֶד בַּר כּוֹכְבָא, links=no; ''Mered Bar Kokhba'') was a rebellion of the Jews of the , led by , against the . Fought circa 132–136 CE, it was the last of three major , so it is also known as T ...
, which lasted from 132 to 135 CE. Both of these revolts ended in widespread destruction in Judea. The holy city of Jerusalem and
Herod's Temple The Second Temple (, '' Beit HaMikdash HaSheni'') was the Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic n ...

Herod's Temple
were destroyed in the first revolt, and during the Bar-Kokhba revolt, Jerusalem was totally razed, and
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
built the colony of
Aelia Capitolina Aelia Capitolina (Traditional English Pronunciation: ; Latin in full: ) was a Colonia (Roman), Roman colony founded by Emperor Hadrian in Jerusalem, which had been almost totally razed after the Siege of Jerusalem (70 CE), siege of 70 AD, during h ...
over its ruins, totally forbidding Jews and
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...

Christians
(at this time,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
was still a sectarian movement within Judaism) from entering. During both of these rebellions, many Jews were captured and sold into slavery by the Romans. According to the Jewish historian
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century and military leader, best known for ', who was born in —then part of —to a father of descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. He initially fought a ...

Josephus
, 97,000 Jews were sold as slaves in the aftermath of the first revolt. Jewish slaves and their children eventually gained their freedom and joined local free Jewish communities. With their national aspirations crushed and widespread devastation in Judea, despondent Jews migrated out of Judea in the aftermath of both revolts, and many settled in southern Europe. The movement was by no means a single, centralized event, nor was it a compulsory relocation as the earlier Assyrian and Babylonian captivities had been. Indeed, for centuries prior to the war or its particularly destructive conclusion, Jews had lived across the known world. Outside of their origins in
ancient Israel The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were two related Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the anci ...
, the history of Ashkenazim is shrouded in mystery, and many theories have arisen speculating on their emergence as a distinct community of Jews. The historical record attests to Jewish communities in southern Europe since pre-Christian times. Many Jews were denied full
Roman citizenship Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its ci ...
until Emperor
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
granted "Granted" is a song by American singer Josh Groban, It was released in early June 2018 along with a lyric video as the lead single on his album Bridges (Josh Groban album), ''Bridges''. Charts Weekly charts Year-end charts References

...

granted
all free peoples this privilege in 212. Jews were required to pay a
poll tax A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments fr ...
until the reign of Emperor Julian in 363. In the late Roman Empire, Jews were free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into various local occupations. But, after Christianity became the official religion of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
and
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
in 380, Jews were increasingly marginalized. The history of Jews in Greece goes back to at least the Archaic Era of Greece when the classical culture of Greece was undergoing a process of formalization after the
Greek Dark Age The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a count ...
. The Greek historian
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece, ancient Greek writer, geographer, and historian born in the Greek city of Halicarnassus, part of the Achaemenid Empire, Persian Empire (now Bodrum, Turkey). He ...
knew of the Jews, whom he called "Palestinian Syrians", and listed them among the levied naval forces in service of the invading
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...
. While Jewish monotheism was not deeply affected by Greek polytheism, the Greek way of living was attractive for many wealthier Jews. The Synagogue in the Agora of Athens is dated to the period between 267 and 396 CE. The Stobi Synagogue in
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
was built on the ruins of a more ancient synagogue in the 4th century, while later in the 5th century, the synagogue was transformed into a Christian basilica.
Hellenistic Judaism Hellenistic Judaism was a form 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) i ...
thrived in
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
and
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic language, Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the List of cities and towns in Egypt, third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, ...

Alexandria
, and many of these Greek-speaking Jews would convert to Christianity. SporadicAndrás Mócsy
''Pannonia and Upper Moesia: A History of the Middle Danube Provinces of the Roman Empire''
(1974), Routledge, 2014, pp. 228–30.
epigraphic evidence in gravesite excavations, particularly in Brigetio (
Szőny Szőny was a town in Hungary. Since 1977, it has been part of the city of Komárom. History The Roman legion Legio I Adiutrix was based here from 86 AD to the mid-5th century and took part in several Roman–Parthian Wars, Parthian wars. The tow ...
), Aquincum (
Óbuda Óbuda was a city in Hungary that was merged with Buda and Pest (city), Pest on 17 November 1873; it now forms part of District III-Óbuda-Békásmegyer of Budapest. The name means ''Old Buda'' in Hungarian language, Hungarian (in German language ...
), Intercisa (
Dunaújváros Dunaújváros (; formerly known as ''Dunapentele'' and ''Sztálinváros''; german: Neustadt an der Donau sr, Пантелија/Pantelija) is an industrial city in Fejér County, Central Hungary. The city is best known for its steelworks, which ...

Dunaújváros
), Triccinae (
Sárvár Sárvár (german: Kotenburg, Rotenturm an der Raab, sl, Mala Sela) is a town in Hungary in Vas County, Vas. Sárvár lies on the banks of the River Rába at Kemeneshát. The population is nearly 16,000. The town has become a tourist centre of ...
), Savaria (
Szombathely Szombathely (; german: Steinamanger, ; see also #Etymology, other alternative names) is the 10th largest city in Hungary. It is the administrative centre of Vas county in the west of the country, located near the border with Austria. Szombathely ...
), Sopianae (
Pécs Pécs ( , ; german: Fünfkirchen, ; known by #Name, alternative names) is List of cities and towns of Hungary#Largest cities in Hungary, the fifth largest city of Hungary, located on the slopes of the Mecsek mountains in the south-west of the count ...
) in Hungary, and Mursa (
Osijek Osijek () is the fourth-largest city in Croatia :* french: link=no, République de Croatie :* hu, Horvát Köztársaság :* it, Repubblica di Croazia :* rue, Републіка Хорватія :* sr, Република Хрватск ...

Osijek
) in Croatia, attest to the presence of Jews after the 2nd and 3rd centuries where Roman garrisons were established. There was a sufficient number of Jews in
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
to form communities and build a synagogue. Jewish troops were among the Syrian soldiers transferred there, and replenished from the Middle East. After 175 CE Jews and especially Syrians came from
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
, Tarsus and
Cappadocia Cappadocia (; also ''Capadocia''; grc, label=Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
. Others came from Italy and the Hellenized parts of the Roman Empire. The excavations suggest they first lived in isolated enclaves attached to Roman legion camps and intermarried with other similar oriental families within the military orders of the region.
Raphael PataiRaphael Patai (Hebrew רפאל פטאי; November 22, 1910 − July 20, 1996), born Ervin György Patai, was a History of the Jews in Hungary, Hungarian-Jewish ethnographer, historian, oriental studies, Orientalist and anthropologist. Family backgro ...
states that later Roman writers remarked that they differed little in either customs, manner of writing, or names from the people among whom they dwelt; and it was especially difficult to differentiate Jews from the Syrians. After Pannonia was ceded to the
Huns The Huns were a nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral ...

Huns
in 433, the garrison populations were withdrawn to Italy, and only a few, enigmatic traces remain of a possible Jewish presence in the area some centuries later. No evidence has yet been found of a Jewish presence in antiquity in Germany beyond its Roman border, nor in Eastern Europe. In Gaul and Germany itself, with the possible exception of
Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also Names of Trier in different languages, names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle (river), Moselle in Germany. It lies in a valley b ...

Trier
and
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of Germany, Germany's most populous States of Germany, state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the List of cities in Germany by population, fourth-most populous city and one of t ...
, the archeological evidence suggests at most a fleeting presence of very few Jews, primarily itinerant traders or artisans. Estimating the number of Jews in antiquity is a task fraught with peril due to the nature of and lack of accurate documentation. The number of Jews in the Roman Empire for a long time was based on the accounts of Syrian Orthodox bishop
Bar Hebraeus Gregory Bar Hebraeus ( syc, ܓܪܝܓܘܪܝܘܣ ܒܪ ܥܒܪܝܐ, b. 1226 - d. 30 July 1286), known by his Syriac ancestral surname as Bar Ebraya or Bar Ebroyo, and also by a Latinisation of names, Latinized name Abulpharagius, was a Maphrian (reg ...
who lived between 1226 and 1286 CE, who stated by the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, as many as six million Jews were already living in the Roman Empire, a conclusion which has been contested as highly exaggerated. The 13th-century author Bar Hebraeus gave a figure of 6,944,000 Jews in the Roman world. 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 Louis Harry Feldman (October 29, 1926 – March 25, 2017) was an American professor of classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity, and in the Western world The Western world, also known as the ...

Louis Feldman
. However, contemporary scholars now accept that Bar Hebraeus based his figure on a census of total Roman citizens and thus included non-Jews, the figure of 6,944,000 being recorded in Eusebius' ''Chronicon''. Louis Feldman, previously an active supporter of the figure, now states that he and Baron were mistaken.
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is t ...

Philo
gives a figure of one million Jews living in Egypt. John R. Bartlett rejects Baron's figures entirely, arguing that we have no clue as to the size of the Jewish demographic in the ancient world. The Romans did not distinguish between Jews inside and outside of the land of Israel/Judaea. They collected an annual
temple taxThe Temple tax (lit. מחצית השקל the half shekel Shekel or sheqel ( Phoenician: , he, שקל, plural or shekels; akk, 𒅆𒅗𒇻 ''šiqlu'' or ''siqlu'') is an ancient Near Eastern coin, usually of silver Silver is a chemical ...
from Jews both in and outside of Israel. The revolts in and suppression of diaspora communities in Egypt, Libya and Crete during the
Kitos War The Kitos War (115–117; he, מרד הגלויות: ''mered ha'galuyot'' or ''mered ha'tfutzot'' רד התפוצות "rebellion of the diaspora" la, Tumultus Iudaicus) was one of the major Jewish–Roman wars (66–136). The rebellions er ...
of 115–117 CE had a severe impact on the Jewish diaspora. A substantial Jewish population emerged in northern Gaul by the Middle Ages, but Jewish communities existed in 465 CE in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, in 524 CE in Valence, and in 533 CE in
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
,
. Throughout this period and into the early Middle Ages, some Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
. King
Dagobert I Dagobert I ( la, Dagobertus; 603 – 19 January 639 AD) was the king of Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The ...
of the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the . Later the term was associated with Germanic dynasties within the ...

Franks
expelled the Jews from his
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the and the , on the edge of the ...
kingdom in 629. Jews in former Roman territories faced new challenges as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks—Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century—were first led by i ...

Charlemagne
's expansion of the Frankish empire around 800, including northern Italy and Rome, brought on a brief period of stability and unity in
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest History of the Roman Empire, post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks du ...

Francia
. This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle again north of the Alps. Charlemagne granted the Jews freedoms similar to those once enjoyed under the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. In addition, Jews from southern Italy, fleeing religious persecution, began to move into
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
. Returning to Frankish lands, many Jewish merchants took up occupations in finance and commerce, including money lending, or
usury Usury () is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loan In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creation and ...
. (Church legislation banned Christians from lending money in exchange for
interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creation and management of money and investments. Savers and investors have money availa ...

interest
.) From Charlemagne's time to the present, Jewish life in northern Europe is well documented. By the 11th century, when
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
of
Troyes Troyes () is a Communes of France, commune and the capital of the Departments of France, department of Aube in the Grand Est region of north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about south-east of Paris. Troyes is situated within ...
wrote his commentaries, Jews in what came to be known as "Ashkenaz" were known for their halakhic learning, and . They were criticized by
Sephardim Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jew ...
and other Jewish scholars in Islamic lands for their lack of expertise in Jewish jurisprudence and general ignorance of Hebrew linguistics and literature.
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the ...
emerged as a result of
Judeo-Latin Judeo-Latin (also spelled Judaeo-Latin) is the use by Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite orig ...
language contact with various
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and te ...
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
s in the medieval period. It is a Germanic language written in Hebrew letters, and heavily influenced by
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
and
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
, with some elements of
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
and later
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
.


High and Late Middle Ages migrations

Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the
Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt ...

Alps
and
Pyrenees The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineus ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of France and Spain. It extends nearly from its union with the Cantabrian Mountains to ...

Pyrenees
as early as the 8th and 9th centuries. By the 11th century, Jewish settlers moving from southern European and Middle Eastern centers (such as
Babylonian Jews The history of the Jews in Iraq ( he, יְהוּדִים בָּבְלִים, ', Yehudim Bavlim, ar, اليهود العراقيون ') is documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BC. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's o ...
and
Persian Jews Persian Jews or Iranian Jews ( fa, یهودیان ایرانی, ''yahudiān-e-Irāni''; he, יהודים פרסים) are the descendants of Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ...
) and Maghrebi Jewish traders from
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
who had contacts with their Ashkenazi brethren and had visited each other from time to time in each's domain appear to have begun to settle in the north, especially along the Rhine, often in response to new economic opportunities and at the invitation of local Christian rulers. Thus Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, invited Jacob ben Yekutiel and his fellow Jews to settle in his lands; and soon after the
Norman conquest of England The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to ...
,
William the Conqueror William I (c. 1028Bates ''William the Conqueror'' p. 33 – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first House of Normandy, Norman List of English monarchs, monarch of Engl ...

William the Conqueror
likewise extended a welcome to continental Jews to take up residence there. Bishop Rüdiger Huzmann called on the Jews of
Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine ...

Mainz
to relocate to
Speyer Speyer (, older spelling ''Speier'', known as ''Spire'' in French and formerly as ''Spires'' in English) is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located on the left bank of the river Rhine, Speyer lies ...

Speyer
. In all of these decisions, the idea that Jews had the know-how and capacity to jump-start the economy, improve revenues, and enlarge trade seems to have played a prominent role.Nina Rowe
''The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the 13th Century''
Cambridge University Press, 2011 p. 30.
Typically Jews relocated close to the markets and churches in town centres, where, though they came under the authority of both royal and ecclesiastical powers, they were accorded administrative autonomy. In the 11th century, both
Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, CE, after the codification of ...
and the culture of the Babylonian Talmud that underlies it became established in southern Italy and then spread north to Ashkenaz. Numerous massacres of Jews occurred throughout Europe during the Christian
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusades
. Inspired by the preaching of a First Crusade, crusader mobs in France and Germany perpetrated the
Rhineland massacres The Rhineland massacres, also known as the German Crusade of 1096 or ''Gzerot Tatnó'' ( he, גזרות תתנ"ו, Hebrew for "Edicts of 4856"), were a series of mass murders of Jews in Europe, Jews perpetrated by mobs of German people, German Ch ...
of 1096, devastating Jewish communities along the Rhine River, including the SHuM cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz. The cluster of cities contain the earliest Jewish settlements north of the Alps, and played a major role in the formation of Ashkenazi Jewish religious tradition, along with Troyes and Sens in France. Nonetheless, Jewish life in Germany persisted, while some Ashkenazi Jews joined Sephardic Jewry in Spain. Expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (15th century), gradually pushed Ashkenazi Jewry eastward, to
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...
(10th century),
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...

Lithuania
(10th century), and Russia (12th century). Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to several presumed factors:
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
European prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, preventing certain financial activities (such as " usurious" loans) between Christians, high rates of literacy, near-universal male education, and ability of merchants to rely upon and trust family members living in different regions and countries. By the 15th century, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the
Diaspora A diaspora ( ) is a scattered population whose origin Origin(s) or The Origin may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Comics and manga * , a Wolverine comic book mini-series published by Marvel Comics in 2002 * , a 1999 ''Buffy th ...

Diaspora
. This area, which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
(Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...

Holocaust
. The answer to why there was so little assimilation of Jews in central and eastern Europe for so long would seem to lie in part in the probability that the alien surroundings in central and eastern Europe were not conducive, though there was some assimilation. Furthermore, Jews lived almost exclusively in
shtetl A shtetl or shtetel (; yi, שטעטל, translit=shtetl (singular); שטעטלעך, romanized: ''shtetlekh'' (plural)) was a small town with a large Ashkenazi Jewish Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jews, Jewish Jewish diaspora, diaspora populatio ...
s, maintained a strong system of education for males, heeded rabbinic leadership, and had a very different lifestyle to that of their neighbours; all of these tendencies increased with every outbreak of
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
. In parts of Eastern Europe, before the arrival of the Ashkenazi Jews from Central, some non-Ashkenazi Jews were present who spoke
Leshon Knaan Knaanic (also called Canaanic, Leshon Knaan, Judaeo-Czech, Judeo-Slavic) is an extinct West Slavic Jewish language Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259 ...
and held various other Non-Ashkenazi traditions and customs. In 1966, the historian
Cecil Roth Dr. Cecil Roth (5 March 1899 – 21 June 1970), was a British Jewish historian. Life Roth was born in Dalston, London, on 5 March 1899. His parents were Etty and Joseph Roth, and Cecil was the youngest of their four sons. In childhood, Cecil receiv ...
questioned the inclusion of all Yiddish speaking Jews as Ashkenazim in descent, suggesting that upon the arrival of Ashkenazi Jews from central Europe to Eastern Europe, from the Middle Ages to the 16th century, there were a substantial number of non-Ashkenazim Jews already there who later abandoned their original Eastern European Jewish culture in favor of the Ashkenazi one. However, according to more recent research, mass migrations of Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews occurred to Eastern Europe, from Central Europe in the west, who due to high birth rates absorbed and largely replaced the preceding non-Ashkenazi Jewish groups of Eastern Europe (whose numbers the demographer Sergio Della Pergola considers to have been small). Genetic evidence also indicates that Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews largely descend from Ashkenazi Jews who migrated from central to eastern Europe and subsequently experienced high birthrates and genetic isolation.


Medieval references

In the first half of the 11th century,
Hai Gaon 250px, Hai Gaon was the head of the Talmudic Academy of Pumbedita during the era of the Abbasid Caliphate">Abbasid.html" ;"title="Pumbedita during the era of the Abbasid">Pumbedita during the era of the Abbasid Caliphate, where the modern city of F ...
refers to questions that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly means Germany. ''
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
'' in the latter half of the 11th century refers to both the language of Ashkenaz and the country of Ashkenaz. During the 12th century, the word appears quite frequently. In the ''
Mahzor Vitry Simhah ben Samuel of Vitry ( he, שמחה בן שמואל מויטרי; died 1105) was a French Talmudist The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious la ...
'', the kingdom of Ashkenaz is referred to chiefly in regard to the ritual of the synagogue there, but occasionally also with regard to certain other observances. In the literature of the 13th century, references to the land and the language of Ashkenaz often occur. Examples include Solomon ben Aderet's Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of
Asher ben Jehiel Asher ben Jehiel ( he, אשר בן יחיאל, or Asher ben Yechiel, sometimes Asheri) (1250 or 1259 – 1327) was an eminent rabbi A rabbi is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One becomes a rabbi by being ordained by anot ...
(pp. 4, 6); his ''Halakot'' (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p. 10); the work of his son
Jacob ben Asher Jacob ben Asher (c. 1269 - c. 1343), also known as Ba'al ha-Turim as well as Rabbi Yaakov ben Raash (Rabbeinu Asher), was an influential Medieval rabbi, rabbinic authority. He is often referred to as the Ba'al ha-Turim ("Master of the Columns"), ...
, ''Tur Orach Chayim'' (chapter 59); the Responsa of Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270). In the ''
Midrash ''Midrash'' (;"midrash"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
he, מִדְרָשׁ; ...

Midrash
'' compilation, ''Genesis Rabbah'', Rabbi Berechiah mentions Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands. It may correspond to a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
word that may have existed in the Greek dialect of the Jews in
Syria Palaestina Syria Palaestina (literally, "Palestinian Syria";Trevor Bryce, 2009, ''The Routledge Handbook of the Peoples and Places of Ancient Western Asia''Roland de Vaux, 1978, ''The Early History of Israel'', Page 2: "After the revolt of Bar Cochba in A. ...
, or the text is corrupted from "Germanica". This view of Berechiah is based on the Talmud (Yoma 10a; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 71b), where Gomer, the father of Ashkenaz, is translated by ''Germamia'', which evidently stands for Germany, and which was suggested by the similarity of the sound. In later times, the word Ashkenaz is used to designate southern and western Germany, the ritual of which sections differs somewhat from that of eastern Germany and Poland. Thus the prayer-book of
Isaiah Horowitz 250px, The grave of Isaiah Horowitz in the Tomb of Maimonides compound, Tiberias, Israel Isaiah or Yeshayahu ben Avraham Horowitz ( he, ישעיה בן אברהם הלוי הורוויץ), (c. 1555 – March 24, 1630), also known as the ''Shelah ...
, and many others, give the
piyyutim A ''piyyut'' or ''piyut'' (plural piyyutim or piyutim, he, פִּיּוּטִים / פיוטים, פִּיּוּט / פיוט ; from Greek ποιητής ''poiētḗs'' "poet") is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Is ...
according to the
Minhag ''Minhag'' ( he, מנהג "custom", pl. , ''minhagim'') is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic re ...
of Ashkenaz and Poland. According to 16th-century mystic Rabbi Elijah of Chelm, Ashkenazi Jews lived in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
during the 11th century. The story is told that a German-speaking Jew saved the life of a young German man surnamed Dolberger. So when the knights of the
First Crusade The First Crusade (1096–1099) was the first of a series of religious wars, or Crusades, initiated, supported and at times directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The objective was the recovery of the Holy Land from Muslim conqu ...
came to siege Jerusalem, one of Dolberger's family members who was among them rescued Jews in Palestine and carried them back to
Worms The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is a taxonomic database that aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms. Content The content of the registry is edited and maintained by scientific specialists ...
to repay the favor. Further evidence of German communities in the holy city comes in the form of
halakhic ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', ''halachah'', or ''halocho''; ) is the collective body of Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people ...
questions sent from Germany to Jerusalem during the second half of the 11th century.


Modern history

Material relating to the history of German Jews has been preserved in the communal accounts of certain communities on the Rhine, a '' Memorbuch'', and a ''Liebesbrief'', documents that are now part of the Sassoon Collection.
Heinrich Graetz Heinrich Graetz (; 31 October 1817 – 7 September 1891) was amongst the first historians to write a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from a Jewish perspective. Born Tzvi Hirsh Graetz to a butcher family in Xions (now Książ Wielkopols ...

Heinrich Graetz
has also added to the history of German Jewry in modern times in the abstract of his seminal work, ''History of the Jews'', which he entitled "Volksthümliche Geschichte der Juden." In an essay on Sephardi Jewry,
Daniel Elazar Daniel Judah Elazar (August 25, 1934 – December 2, 1999) was a political scientist known for his seminal studies of political culture of the US states. He was professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University in Israel Israel (; h ...

Daniel Elazar
at the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) is an Israeli research institute specializing in public diplomacy and foreign policy founded in 1976. Currently, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs's research portfolio consists of five primar ...
summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi Jews in the last thousand years. He notes that at the end of the 11th century, 97% of world Jewry was Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazi; in the mid-17th century, "Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two"; by the end of the 18th century, "Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim three to two, the result of improved living conditions in Christian Europe versus the Ottoman Muslim world." By 1930,
Arthur Ruppin Arthur Ruppin (1 March 1876 – 1 January 1943) was a Zionism, Zionist thinker and leader, and was one of the founders of the city of Tel Aviv. He directed Berlin's Bureau for Jewish Statistics and Demography from 1902 to 1907. From 1908 on, he ...
estimated that Ashkenazi Jews accounted for nearly 92% of world Jewry. These factors are sheer demography showing the migration patterns of Jews from Southern and Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe. In 1740 a family from Lithuania became the first Ashkenazi Jews to settle in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. In the generations after emigration from the west, Jewish communities in places like Poland, Russia, and Belarus enjoyed a comparatively stable socio-political environment. A thriving publishing industry and the printing of hundreds of biblical commentaries precipitated the development of the
Hasidic Hasidism, sometimes spelled Chassidism, and also known as Hasidic Judaism ( he, חסידות, Ḥăsīdut, ; originally, "piety"), is a subgroup of Haredi Judaism that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contemporary Wester ...
movement as well as major Jewish academic centers. After two centuries of comparative tolerance in the new nations, massive westward emigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries in response to
pogrom A pogrom is a violent riot Rioters wearing scarves to conceal their identity and filter tear gas A riot () is a form of civil disorder Civil disorder, also known as civil disturbance, civil unrest, or social unrest is an activity arising ...
s in the east and the economic opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi Jews have made up the majority of the
American Jew American Jews or Jewish Americans are Americans Americans are the and of the .; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney General''897 F.3d 491, 494 n.3 (3d Cir. 2018) (" and are not ous. While all citizens are nationals, not all nationals are citizen ...
ish community since 1750. In the context of the European
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
, Jewish emancipation began in 18th century France and spread throughout Western and Central Europe.
Disabilities A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effectively interact with the world around them (socially or materially). These conditions, or impairments, may be cognitive Cognition () ...
that had limited the rights of Jews since the Middle Ages were abolished, including the requirements to wear distinctive clothing, pay special taxes, and live in
ghettos A ghetto (; from Venetian ''ghèto'', ' foundry'), often ''the'' ghetto, is a part of a city in which members of a minority group A minority group, by its original definition, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethni ...
isolated from non-Jewish communities and the prohibitions on certain professions. Laws were passed to integrate Jews into their host countries, forcing Ashkenazi Jews to adopt family names (they had formerly used
patronymics A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name 300px, First/given, middle and last/family/surname with John Fitzgerald Kennedy as example. This shows a structure typical for the Anglosphere, among others. Other cultures use ...
). Newfound inclusion into public life led to cultural growth in the ''
Haskalah The ''Haskalah'', often termed Jewish Enlightenment ( he, השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organ ...
'', or Jewish Enlightenment, with its goal of integrating modern European values into Jewish life. As a reaction to increasing antisemitism and assimilation following the emancipation,
Zionism Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת ''Tsiyyonut'' after ''Zion Zion ( he, צִיּוֹן ''Ṣīyyōn'', , also variously ''Sion'', ''Tzion'', ''Tsion'', ''Tsiyyon'') is a placename in the used as a synonym for as well as for the as ...
was developed in central Europe. Other Jews, particularly those in the
Pale of Settlement The Pale of Settlement (russian: Черта́ осе́длости, '; yi, דער תּחום-המושבֿ, '; he, תְּחוּם הַמּוֹשָב, ') was a western region of the Russian Empire with varying borders that existed from 1791 to ...
, turned to
socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
. These tendencies would be united in
Labor Zionism Labor Zionism or socialist Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת סוֹצְיָאלִיסְטִית, Romanization of Hebrew, translit. ''Tziyonut sotzyalistit''; he, תְּנוּעָת הָעַבוֹדָה Romanization of Hebrew, translit. ''Tnu' ...
, the founding ideology of the State of Israel.


The Holocaust

Of the estimated 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the majority of whom were Ashkenazi, about 6 million – more than two-thirds – were systematically murdered in
the Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the attempted destruction of a people, usually defined as an ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify wi ...
. These included 3 million of 3.3 million
Polish Jews The history of Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is div ...
(91%); 900,000 of 1.5 million in
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
(60%); and 50–90% of the Jews of other Slavic nations, Germany, Hungary, and the Baltic states, and over 25% of the Jews in France. Sephardi communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries, including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia. As the large majority of the victims were Ashkenazi Jews, their percentage dropped from an estimate of 92% of world Jewry in 1930 to nearly 80% of world Jewry today. The Holocaust also effectively put an end to the dynamic development of the Yiddish language in the previous decades, as the vast majority of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, around 5 million, were Yiddish speakers. Many of the surviving Ashkenazi Jews emigrated to countries such as Israel, Canada, Argentina,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...
, and the United States after the war. Following the Holocaust, some sources place Ashkenazim today as making up approximately 83–85 percent of Jews worldwide, while
Sergio DellaPergola Sergio Della Pergola (born September 7, 1942, in Trieste, Italy) is an Italian-Israeli demographer and statistician. He is a professor and demographic expert, specifically in demography and statistics related to the Jewish population. Biography Se ...

Sergio DellaPergola
in a rough calculation of
Sephardic Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or sefarditas), pt, Judeus sefarditas or His ...
and
Mizrahi Jews Mizrahi Jews ( he, יהודי המִזְרָח) or ''Mizrahim'' (), also sometimes referred to as Mizrachi (), Edot HaMizrach (; ) or Oriental Jews, are the descendants of the local Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO ...
, implies that Ashkenazi make up a notably lower figure, less than 74%. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews as making up about 75% of Jews worldwide.


Israel

In Israel, the term ''Ashkenazi'' is now used in a manner unrelated to its original meaning, often applied to all Jews who settled in Europe and sometimes including those whose ethnic background is actually Sephardic. Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi, Yemenite, Kurdish and others who have no connection with the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region ...

Iberian Peninsula
, have similarly come to be lumped together as Sephardic. Jews of mixed background are increasingly common, partly because of intermarriage between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi, and partly because many do not see such historic markers as relevant to their life experiences as Jews. Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in
halakhic ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', ''halachah'', or ''halocho''; ) is the collective body of Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people ...
matters. In this respect, a religiously Ashkenazi Jew is an Israeli who is more likely to support certain religious interests in Israel, including certain political parties. These political parties result from the fact that a portion of the Israeli electorate votes for Jewish religious parties; although the electoral map changes from one election to another, there are generally several small parties associated with the interests of religious Ashkenazi Jews. The role of religious parties, including small religious parties that play important roles as coalition members, results in turn from Israel's composition as a complex society in which competing social, economic, and religious interests stand for election to the
Knesset The Knesset ( he, הַכְּנֶסֶת ; "gathering" or "assembly") is the unicameral In government, unicameralism (Latin , "one" and , "chamber") is the practice of having a single legislative or legislative chamber, parliamentary chamber ...

Knesset
, a
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
legislature with 120 seats. Ashkenazi Jews have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics of Israel since its founding. During the first decades of Israel as a state, strong cultural conflict occurred between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews (mainly east European Ashkenazim). The roots of this conflict, which still exists to a much smaller extent in present-day Israeli society, are chiefly attributed to the concept of the "
melting pot The melting pot is a monocultural metaphor for a heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languag ...

melting pot
". That is to say, all Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel were strongly encouraged to "meltdown" their own particular exilic identities within the general social "pot" in order to become Israeli.


Definition


By religion

Religious Jews have
minhag ''Minhag'' ( he, מנהג "custom", pl. , ''minhagim'') is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic re ...
im, customs, in addition to
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific ...
, or religious law, and different interpretations of the law. Different groups of religious Jews in different geographic areas historically adopted different customs and interpretations. On certain issues, Orthodox Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing. For this reason, observant Jews at times find it important for religious reasons to ascertain who their household's religious ancestors are in order to know what customs their household should follow. These times include, for example, when two Jews of different ethnic background marry when a non-Jew converts to Judaism and determines what customs to follow for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant Jew returns to traditional Judaism and must determine what was done in his or her family's past. In this sense, "Ashkenazic" refers both to a family ancestry and to a body of customs binding on Jews of that ancestry.
Reform Judaism Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism or Progressive Judaism) is a major Jewish denomination Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "Religious denomination, denominations", include different groups which have developed among Jews ...
, which does not necessarily follow those minhagim, did nonetheless originate among Ashkenazi Jews. In a religious sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is any Jew whose family tradition and ritual follow Ashkenazi practice. Until the Ashkenazi community first began to develop in the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Middle Ages ...
, the centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد ) is the capital of Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, ...

Baghdad
and in . Ashkenaz (Germany) was so distant geographically that it developed a ''
minhag ''Minhag'' ( he, מנהג "custom", pl. , ''minhagim'') is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic re ...
'' of its own. Ashkenazi Hebrew came to be pronounced in ways distinct from other forms of Hebrew. In this respect, the counterpart of Ashkenazi is
Sephardic Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or sefarditas), pt, Judeus sefarditas or His ...
, since most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews follow Sephardic rabbinical authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By tradition, a Sephardic or
Mizrahi ''Mizrachi'' or ''Mizrahi'' ( he, מזרחי, lit. ''Eastern'') may refer to: * Mizrahi, a sephardic surname, given to Jews who got to the Iberian Peninsula from the east or Jews who lived in the eastern side of the peninsula. *Mizrahi Jews, Jews fr ...
woman who marries into an
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
or
Haredi Haredi Judaism ( he, יהדות חֲרֵדִית ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'' in English; plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branche ...

Haredi
Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi Jews; conversely an Ashkenazi woman who marries a
Sephardi Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jew ...
or Mizrahi man is expected to take on Sephardic practice and the children inherit a Sephardic identity, though in practice many families compromise. A
convert Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ''Cyberman'' * Conversion (Stargate Atlantis), "Conversion" (''Stargate Atlantis ...
generally follows the practice of the
beth din A beth din ( he, בית דין ''Bet Din'', "house of judgment" , Ashkenazic: ''beis din'') is a rabbinical Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanite ...
that converted him or her. With the integration of Jews from around the world in Israel, North America, and other places, the religious definition of an Ashkenazi Jew is blurring, especially outside
Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, ...
. New developments in Judaism often transcend differences in religious practice between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. In North American cities, social trends such as the chavurah movement, and the emergence of "post-denominational Judaism" often bring together younger Jews of diverse ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, there has been increased interest in ''
Kabbalah Kabbalah ( he, קַבָּלָה, links=no ''Qabālā'', literally "reception, tradition" or "correspondence") is an esoteric method, discipline, and Jewish theology, school of thought in Jewish mysticism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is ...

Kabbalah
'', which many Ashkenazi Jews study outside of the
Yeshiva A yeshiva (; he, ישיבה, , sitting; pl. , or ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards de ...
framework. Another trend is the new popularity of
ecstatic Ecstasy (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods ...
worship in the Jewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach style
minyan In , a ''minyan'' ( he, מניין \ מִנְיָן ''minyán'' , (noun) ''count, number''; pl. ''minyaním'' ) is the of ten Jewish adults required for certain s. In more traditional streams of Judaism, only males 13 and older may constitu ...
, both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin. Outside of
Haredi Haredi Judaism ( he, יהדות חֲרֵדִית ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'' in English; plural ''Haredim'' or ''Charedim'') consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branche ...
communities, the traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew has also drastically declined in favor of the
Sephardi Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jew ...
-based pronunciation of
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the ...
.


By culture

Culturally, an Ashkenazi Jew can be identified by the concept of ''
Yiddishkeit Yiddishkeit ( yi, ייִדישקייט ) literally means "Jewishness", i.e. "a Jewish way of life". It can refer to Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient ...
'', which means "Jewishness" in the
Yiddish language Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciati ...
. ''Yiddishkeit'' is specifically the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews. Before the
Haskalah The ''Haskalah'', often termed Jewish Enlightenment ( he, השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organ ...
and the emancipation of Jews in Europe, this meant the study of
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
and
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
for men, and a family and communal life governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the
Rhineland The Rhineland (german: Rheinland; french: Rhénanie; nl, Rijnland; ksh, Rhingland; Latinised name: ''Rhenania'') is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly Middle Rhine, its middle section. Term ...

Rhineland
to
Riga Riga (; lv, Rīga , liv, Rīgõ, ) is the capital of Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links ...

Riga
to Romania, most Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew, and spoke Yiddish in their secular lives. But with modernization, ''Yiddishkeit'' now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and
Hasidism Hasidism, sometimes spelled Chassidism, and also known as Hasidic Judaism ( he, חסידות, Ḥăsīdut, ; originally, "piety"), is a subgroup of Haredi Judaism Haredi Judaism ( he, חֲרֵדִי ', ; also spelled ''Charedi'', plural ''Hare ...
, but a broad range of movements, ideologies, practices, and traditions in which Ashkenazi Jews have participated and somehow retained a sense of Jewishness. Although a far smaller number of Jews still speak Yiddish, ''Yiddishkeit'' can be identified in manners of speech, in styles of humor, in patterns of association. Broadly speaking, a Jew is one who associates culturally with Jews, supports Jewish institutions, reads Jewish books and periodicals, attends Jewish movies and theater, travels to Israel, visits historical synagogues, and so forth. It is a definition that applies to Jewish culture in general, and to Ashkenazi Yiddishkeit in particular. As Ashkenazi Jews moved away from Europe, mostly in the form of
aliyah Aliyah (, ; he, עֲלִיָּה ''aliyah'', "ascent") is the immigration of Jews from the Jewish diaspora, diaspora to the Land of Israel historically, which today includes the modern State of Israel. Also defined as "the act of going up"—th ...
to Israel, or immigration to North America, and other English-speaking areas such as
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
; and Europe (particularly France) and
Latin America * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , ethnic_groups = , ethnic_groups_year = 2018 , ethnic ...

Latin America
, the geographic isolation that gave rise to Ashkenazim have given way to mixing with other cultures, and with non-Ashkenazi Jews who, similarly, are no longer isolated in distinct geographic locales.
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
has replaced Yiddish as the primary
Jewish language Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the ...
for many Ashkenazi Jews, although many
Hasidic Hasidism, sometimes spelled Chassidism, and also known as Hasidic Judaism ( he, חסידות, Ḥăsīdut, ; originally, "piety"), is a subgroup of Haredi Judaism that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contemporary Wester ...
and Hareidi groups continue to use Yiddish in daily life. (There are numerous Ashkenazi Jewish anglophones and Russian-speakers as well, although English and Russian are not originally Jewish languages.) France's blended Jewish community is typical of the cultural recombination that is going on among Jews throughout the world. Although France expelled its original Jewish population in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, by the time of the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, there were two distinct Jewish populations. One consisted of Sephardic Jews, originally refugees from the
Inquisition The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical terminology also referred to as the "Holy Inquisition", was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat Christian heresy, heresy. Studies of the records have found that ...

Inquisition
and concentrated in the southwest, while the other community was Ashkenazi, concentrated in formerly German
Alsace Alsace (, also ; Low Alemannic German Low Alemannic German (german: Niederalemannisch) is a branch of Alemannic German Alemannic, or rarely Alemannish (''Alemannisch'', ), is a group of High German dialects. The name derives from the ancie ...

Alsace
, and mainly speaking a German dialect similar to Yiddish. (The third community of Provençal Jews living in
Comtat Venaissin The Comtat Venaissin (; Provençal: , Mistralian norm: , classical norm: ; 'County of Venaissin'), often called the for short, was a part of the Papal States The Papal States ( ; it, Stato Pontificio), officially the State of the Churc ...

Comtat Venaissin
were technically outside France, and were later absorbed into the Sephardim.) The two communities were so separate and different than the
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral In government, unicameralism (Latin , "one" and , "chamber") is the practice of having a single legislative or legislative chamber, parliamentary chamber. Thus, a ''unicameral parliam ...
emancipated them separately in 1790 and 1791. But after emancipation, a sense of a unified French Jewry emerged, especially when France was wracked by the
Dreyfus affair The Dreyfus affair (french: l'affaire Dreyfus, ) was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. "L'Affaire", as it is known in French, has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francop ...
in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ashkenazi Jews from Europe arrived in large numbers as refugees from
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
, the
Russian revolution The Russian Revolution was a period of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relatio ...
, and the economic turmoil of the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression An economic depression is a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. It is a more severe economic downturn than a economic recession, recess ...
. By the 1930s,
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
had a vibrant Yiddish culture, and many Jews were involved in diverse political movements. After the
Vichy Vichy ( oc, Vichèi) is a city in the Allier Allier ( , , ; oc, Alèir) is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hum ...
years and the
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...

Holocaust
, the French Jewish population was augmented once again, first by Ashkenazi refugees from Central Europe, and later by Sephardi immigrants and refugees from
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, many of them
francophone This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...
. Ashkenazi Jews did not record their traditions or achievements by text, instead these traditions were passed down orally from one generation to the next. The desire to maintain pre-
Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syst ...
traditions relating to Ashkenazi culture has often been met with criticism by Jews in
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
. Reasoning for this could be related to the development of a new style of Jewish arts and culture developed by the
Jews of Palestine Palestinian Jews were Jews, Jewish inhabitants of Palestine (region), Palestine (known in Hebrew as ''Eretz Israel'', the "Land of Israel") prior to the Israeli Declaration of Independence, establishment of the modern state of Israel. The commo ...
during the 1930s and 1940s, which in conjunction with the decimation of European Ashkenazi Jews and their culture by the
Nazi Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...
regime made it easier to assimilate to the new style of ritual rather than try to repair the older traditions. This new style of tradition was referred to as the ''Mediterranean Style'', and was noted for its simplicity and metaphorical rejuvenation of Jews abroad. This was intended to replace the
Galut The Jewish diaspora ( he, תְּפוּצָה, təfūṣā) or exile (Hebrew: ; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi ...
traditions, which were more sorrowful in practice. Then, in the 1990s, yet another Ashkenazi Jewish wave began to arrive from countries of the former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and Central Europe. The result is a pluralistic Jewish community that still has some distinct elements of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic culture. But in France, it is becoming much more difficult to sort out the two, and a distinctly French Jewishness has emerged.


By ethnicity

In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews who settled in Central Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have argued that genetic variations have been identified that show high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population, be they for patrilineal markers (
Y-chromosome The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins called histones which, aided by chaperone p ...
haplotype A haplotype (haploid Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins called h ...
s) and for matrilineal markers (). Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths. A 2006 study found Ashkenazi Jews to be a clear, homogeneous genetic subgroup. Strikingly, regardless of the place of origin, Ashkenazi Jews can be grouped in the same genetic cohort – that is, regardless of whether an Ashkenazi Jew's ancestors came from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Lithuania, or any other place with a historical Jewish population, they belong to the same ethnic group. The research demonstrates the endogamy of the Jewish population in Europe and lends further credence to the idea of Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic group. Moreover, though intermarriage among Jews of Ashkenazi descent has become increasingly common, many Haredi Jews, particularly members of Hasidic or Hareidi sects, continue to marry exclusively fellow Ashkenazi Jews. This trend keeps Ashkenazi genes prevalent and also helps researchers further study the genes of Ashkenazi Jews with relative ease. These Haredi Jews often have extremely large families.


Customs, laws and traditions

The ''
Halakhic ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', ''halachah'', or ''halocho''; ) is the collective body of Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people ...
'' practices of (
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
) Ashkenazi Jews may differ from those of
Sephardi Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas ...
, particularly in matters of custom. Differences are noted in the ''
Shulkhan Arukh The ''Shulchan Aruch'' ( he, שֻׁלְחָן עָרוּך , literally: "Set Table"), sometimes dubbed in English as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most widely consulted of the various in Judaism. It was authored in (today in ) by in 1563 and ...
'' itself, in the gloss of
Moses Isserles ). He is not to be confused with Meir Abulafia:''Meir Abulafia is commonly known as "the Ramah" (Hebrew: רמ"ה). He should not be confused with Moses Isserles, known as "the Rema" or "the Rama" (Hebrew: רמ"א).'' Meir ben Todros HaLevi Abulafi ...

Moses Isserles
. Well known differences in practice include: * Observance of ''
Pesach Passover, also called Pesach (; he, פֶּסַח '), is a major Jewish holidays, Jewish holiday that celebrates the The Exodus, exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Ancient Egypt, Egypt, which occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew calendar, ...
'' (Passover): Ashkenazi Jews traditionally refrain from eating
legumes A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...
, grain,
millet Millets () are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in Indi ...

millet
, and
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

rice
(
quinoa Quinoa (''Chenopodium quinoa''; , from Quechua Quechua may refer to: *Quechua people, several indigenous ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru *Quechuan languages, a Native South American language family spoken primarily in the ...

quinoa
, however, has become accepted as foodgrain in the North American communities), whereas Sephardi Jews typically do not prohibit these foods. * Ashkenazi Jews freely mix and eat fish and milk products; some Sephardic Jews refrain from doing so. * Ashkenazim are more permissive toward the usage of
wigs A wig is a head or hair accessory made from human hair Hair is a protein filament In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemic ...
as a hair covering for married and widowed women. * In the case of ''
kashrut ''Kashrut'' (also ''kashruth'' or ''kashrus'', ) is a set of dietary laws Some people do not eat various specific foods and beverages in conformity with various religious, cultural, legal or other societal prohibitions. Many of these prohibitio ...
'' for meat, conversely, Sephardi Jews have stricter requirements – this level is commonly referred to as '' Beth Yosef''. Meat products that are acceptable to Ashkenazi Jews as kosher may therefore be rejected by Sephardi Jews. Notwithstanding stricter requirements for the actual slaughter, Sephardi Jews permit the rear portions of an animal after proper
Halakhic ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', ''halachah'', or ''halocho''; ) is the collective body of Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people ...
removal of the
sciatic nerve The sciatic nerve, also called the ischiadic nerve, is a large nerve A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of fibers (called axon An axon (from Greek ἄξων ''áxōn'', axis), or nerve fiber (or nerve fibre: see American and British E ...

sciatic nerve
, while many Ashkenazi Jews do not. This is not because of different interpretations of the law; rather, slaughterhouses could not find adequate skills for correct removal of the sciatic nerve and found it more economical to separate the hindquarters and sell them as non-kosher meat. * Ashkenazi Jews often name newborn children after deceased family members, but not after living relatives. Sephardi Jews, in contrast, often name their children after the children's grandparents, even if those grandparents are still living. A notable exception to this generally reliable rule is among
Dutch Jews The history of the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first ac ...
, where Ashkenazim for centuries used the naming conventions otherwise attributed exclusively to Sephardim such as Chuts. * Ashkenazi
tefillin Tefillin (; Israeli Hebrew Israeli may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the State of Israel * Israelis, citizens or permanent residents of the State of Israel * Modern Hebrew, a language * ''Israeli'' (newspaper), published from ...

tefillin
bear some differences from Sephardic tefillin. In the traditional Ashkenazic rite, the tefillin are wound towards the body, not away from it. Ashkenazim traditionally don tefillin while standing, whereas other Jews generally do so while sitting down. * Ashkenazic traditional pronunciations of
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
differ from those of other groups. The most prominent consonantal difference from Sephardic and Mizrahic Hebrew dialects is the pronunciation of the Hebrew letter tav in certain Hebrew words (historically, in postvocalic undoubled context) as an /s/ and not a /t/ or /θ/ sound. * The prayer shawl, or
tallit A tallit ( he, טַלִּית ''talit'' in Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''Literal translation, lit.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and genera ...

tallit
(or tallis in Ashkenazi Hebrew), is worn by the majority of Ashkenazi men after marriage, but western European Ashkenazi men wear it from Bar Mitzvah. In Sephardi or Mizrahi Judaism, the prayer shawl is commonly worn from early childhood.


Ashkenazic liturgy

The term ''Ashkenazi'' also refers to the ''
nusach Ashkenaz Nusach Ashkenaz is a style of Jewish religious service conducted by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious grou ...
'' (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, "liturgical tradition", or rite) used by Ashkenazi
Jew Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jew
s in their ''
Siddur Siddur ( he, סִדּוּר , ; plural siddurim , ) is a term for a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards ...
'' (prayer book). A ''nusach'' is defined by a liturgical tradition's choice of prayers, the order of prayers, the text of prayers, and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Two other major forms of nusach among Ashkenazic Jews are
Nusach Sefard Nusach Sefard, Nusach Sepharad, or Nusach Sfard is the name for various forms of the Jewish ''siddur A siddur ( he, סִדּוּר , ; plural siddurim , ) is the Ashkenazi Jews, Ashkenazi term for a Judaism, Jewish prayer book, containing a set ...
(not to be confused with the Sephardic ritual), which is the general Polish Hasidic nusach, and
Nusach Ari ''Nusach Ari'' means, in a general sense, any prayer rite following the usages of Rabbi Isaac Luria Isaac (ben Solomon) Luria Ashkenazi (1534#FINE_2003, Fine 2003, p24/ref> – July 25, 1572) ( he, יִצְחָק בן שלמה לוּרְיָא ...
, as used by Lubavitch Hasidim.


Ashkenazi as a surname

Several famous people have Ashkenazi as a surname, such as
Vladimir Ashkenazy Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy (russian: Влади́мир Дави́дович Ашкена́зи, ''Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazi''; born 6 July 1937) is an internationally recognized solo pianist, chamber music performer, and conductor Condu ...

Vladimir Ashkenazy
. However, most people with this surname hail from within Sephardic communities, particularly from the Syrian Jewish community. The Sephardic carriers of the surname would have some Ashkenazi ancestors since the surname was adopted by families who were initially of Ashkenazic origins who moved to Sephardi countries and joined those communities. Ashkenazi would be formally adopted as the family surname having started off as a nickname imposed by their adopted communities. Some have shortened the name to Ash.


Relations with Sephardim

Relations between Ashkenazim and Sephardim have at times been tense and clouded by arrogance, snobbery and claims of racial superiority with both sides claiming the inferiority of the other, based upon such features as physical traits and culture. North African Sephardim and Berber Jews were often looked down upon by Ashkenazim as second-class citizens during the first decade after the creation of Israel. This has led to protest movements such as the Israeli
Black Panthers The Black Panther Party (BPP), originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a Black Power political organization founded by college students Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California Oakland is the ...
led by
Saadia Marciano Saadia Marciano ( he, סעדיה מרציאנו; 1 May 1950 – 21 December 2007) was an Israeli social activist and politician, and founder of the Black Panthers (Israel), Israeli Black Panthers. Biography Born in Oujda, Morocco in 1950, Marciano ...
, a Moroccan Jew. Nowadays, relations are getting warmer. In some instances, Ashkenazi communities have accepted significant numbers of Sephardi newcomers, sometimes resulting in intermarriage and the possible merging between the two communities.


Notable Ashkenazim

Ashkenazi Jews have a notable history of achievement in Western societies in the fields of natural and social sciences, mathematics, literature, finance, politics, media, and others. In those societies where they have been free to enter any profession, they have a record of high occupational achievement, entering professions and fields of commerce where higher education is required. Ashkenazi Jews have won a large number of the Nobel awards. ''Time'' magazine's person of the 20th century,
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Albert Einstein
, was an Ashkenazi Jew. According to a study performed by
Cambridge University The University of Cambridge is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III of England, Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest ...
, 21% of Ivy League students, 25% of the Turing Award winners, 23% of the wealthiest Americans, 38% of the Oscar-winning film directors, and 29% of Oslo awardees are Ashkenazi Jews.


Genetics


Genetic origins

Efforts to identify the origins of Ashkenazi Jews through DNA analysis began in the 1990s. Currently, there are three types of genetic origin testing, autosomal DNA (atDNA),
mitochondrial DNA Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA) is the DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five car ...

mitochondrial DNA
(mtDNA), and Y-chromosomal DNA (
Y-DNA The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist ...
). Autosomal DNA is a mixture from an individual's entire ancestry, Y-DNA shows a male's lineage only along his strict paternal line, mtDNA shows any person's lineage only along the strict maternal line.
Genome-wide association studies In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) Though heredity had been observed for millennia, Gregor Mendel, Moravia, Moravian scientist a ...
have also been employed to yield findings relevant to genetic origins. Like most DNA studies of human migration patterns, the earliest studies on Ashkenazi Jews focused on the Y-DNA and mtDNA segments of the human genome. Both segments are unaffected by recombination (except for the ends of the Y chromosome – the
pseudoautosomal region Image:A region in the pseudoautosomal region of the short arms of the X- and Y-chromosome.jpg, Detail of a human metaphase spread. A region in the pseudoautosomal region of the short arms of the X chromosome (left) and the Y chromosome (top right) w ...

pseudoautosomal region
s known as PAR1 and PAR2), thus allowing tracing of direct maternal and paternal lineages. These studies revealed that Ashkenazi Jews originate from an ancient (2000 BCE – 700 BCE) population of the Middle East who had spread to Europe. Ashkenazic Jews display the homogeneity of a , meaning they descend from a larger population whose numbers were greatly reduced but recovered through a few founding individuals. Although the Jewish people, in general, were present across a wide geographical area as described, genetic research done by Gil Atzmon of the Longevity Genes Project at
Albert Einstein College of Medicine Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a private university, private, research-intensive medical school located in the Morris Park, Bronx, Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, Bronx in New York City. Einstein operates as an independ ...
suggests "that Ashkenazim branched off from other Jews around the time of the destruction of the First Temple, 2,500 years ago ... flourished during the Roman Empire but then went through a 'severe bottleneck' as they dispersed, reducing a population of several million to just 400 families who left Northern Italy around the year 1000 for Central and eventually Eastern Europe." Various studies have arrived at diverging conclusions regarding both the degree and the sources of the non-Levantine admixture in Ashkenazim, particularly with respect to the extent of the non-Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages, which is in contrast to the predominant Levantine genetic origin observed in Ashkenazi paternal lineages. All studies nevertheless agree that genetic overlap with the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
exists in both lineages, albeit at differing rates. Collectively, Ashkenazi Jews are less genetically diverse than other
Jewish ethnic divisions Jewish ethnic divisions refer to many distinctive communities within the world's Ethnicity, ethnically Jewish population. Although considered a Cultural identity, self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinct ethnic subdivisions among Jews, most ...
, due to their genetic bottleneck.


Male lineages: Y-chromosomal DNA

The majority of genetic findings to date concerning Ashkenazi Jews conclude that the male lines were founded by ancestors from the Middle East. Natural History 102:11 (November 1993): 12–19. A study of
haplotypes A haplotype ( haploid genotype) is a group of alleles in an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, propertie ...
of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer ''et al.'' found that the
Y-chromosome The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosome A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins called histones which, aided by chaperone p ...
of Ashkenazi and
Sephardic Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas ...
contained mutations that are also common among other Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the autochthonous European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male
genetic admixture Genetic admixture occurs when previously diverged or isolated genetic lineages mix.⅝ Admixture results in the introduction of new genetic lineages into a population. Examples Climatic cycles facilitate genetic admixture in cold periods and gene ...
in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with "relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim," and a total admixture estimate "very similar to Motulsky's average estimate of 12.5%." This supported the finding that "Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors." "Past research found that 50–80 percent of DNA from the Ashkenazi Y chromosome, which is used to trace the male lineage, originated in the Near East," Richards said. The population has subsequently spread out. A 2001 study by Nebel ''et al.'' showed that both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish populations share the same overall paternal Near Eastern ancestries. In comparison with data available from other relevant populations in the region, Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent. The authors also report on Eu 19 (
R1a Haplogroup R1a, or haplogroup R-M420, is a human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup In human genetics, a human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by mutation Image:Darwin Hybrid Tulip Mutation 2014-05-01.jpg, A tulip flower ex ...

R1a
) chromosomes, which are very frequent in Central and Eastern Europeans (54–60%) at elevated frequency (13%) in Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that the differences among Ashkenazim Jews could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding European populations or genetic drift during isolation. A later 2005 study by Nebel ''et al.'', found a similar level of 11.5% of male Ashkenazim belonging to , the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroup in Central and Eastern Europeans. However, a 2017 study, concentrating on the Ashkenazi
Levites A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in ...
where the proportion reaches 50%, while signalling that there's a "rich variation of haplogroup R1a outside of Europe which is phylogenetically separate from the typically European R1a branches", precises that the particular R1a-Y2619 sub-clade testifies for a local origin, and that the "Middle Eastern origin of the Ashkenazi Levite lineage based on what was previously a relatively limited number of reported samples, can now be considered firmly validated."


Female lineages: Mitochondrial DNA

Before 2006, geneticists had largely attributed the
ethnogenesis Ethnogenesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is app ...
of most of the world's Jewish populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, to Israelite Jewish male migrants from the Middle East and "the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism." Thus, in 2002, in line with this model of origin, David Goldstein, now of Duke University, reported that unlike male Ashkenazi lineages, the female lineages in Ashkenazi Jewish communities "did not seem to be Middle Eastern", and that each community had its own genetic pattern and even that "in some cases the mitochondrial DNA was closely related to that of the host community." In his view, this suggested, "that Jewish men had arrived from the Middle East, taken wives from the host population and converted them to Judaism, after which there was no further intermarriage with non-Jews." In 2006, a study by Behar ''et al.'', based on what was at that time high-resolution analysis of haplogroup K (mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or "founder lineages", that were "likely from a
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...

Hebrew
/
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
ine mtDNA pool" originating in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Additionally, Behar ''et al.'' suggested that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from ~150 women, and that most of those were also likely of Middle Eastern origin. In reference specifically to Haplogroup K, they suggested that although it is common throughout western Eurasia, "the observed global pattern of distribution renders very unlikely the possibility that the four aforementioned founder lineages entered the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool via gene flow from a European host population". In 2013, a study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA by a team led by Martin B. Richards of the
University of Huddersfield The University of Huddersfield (informally Huddersfield University) is a public research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher educat ...
in England reached different conclusions, in line with the pre-2006 origin hypothesis. Testing was performed on the full 16,600 DNA units composing mitochondrial DNA (the 2006 Behar study had only tested 1,000 units) in all their subjects, and the study found that the four main female Ashkenazi founders had descent lines that were established in Europe 10,000 to 20,000 years in the past while most of the remaining minor founders also have a deep European ancestry. The study argued that the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Near East or the Caucasus, but instead assimilated within Europe, primarily of Italian and Old French origins. The Richards study estimated that more than 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from women indigenous to (mainy prehistoric Western) Europe, and only 8 percent from the Near East, while the origin of the remainder is undetermined. According to the study these findings "point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities."
Karl Skorecki KARL (105.1 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a Classic Country format. Licensed to Tracy, Minnesota Tracy is a city in Lyon County, Minnesota Minnesota () is a U.S. state, state in the north central region of the United States. It ...
criticized the study for perceived flaws in phylogenetic analysis. "While Costa et al have re-opened the question of the maternal origins of Ashkenazi Jewry, the phylogenetic analysis in the manuscript does not 'settle' the question." A 2014 study by Fernández et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews display a frequency of haplogroup K in their maternal DNA, suggesting an ancient Near Eastern matrilineal origin, similar to the results of the Behar study in 2006. Fernández noted that this observation clearly contradicts the results of the 2013 study led by Richards that suggested a European source for 3 exclusively Ashkenazi K lineages.


Association and linkage studies (autosomal dna)

In
genetic epidemiology Genetic epidemiology is the study of the role of genetics, genetic factors in determining health and disease in families and in populations, and the interplay of such genetic factors with environmental factors. Genetic epidemiology seeks to derive a ...
, a
genome-wide association study In genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Hartl D, Jones E (2005) Though heredity had been observed for millennia, Gregor Mendel, Moravia, Moravian scientist a ...
(GWA study, or GWAS) is an examination of all or most of the genes (the genome) of different individuals of a particular species to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual. These techniques were originally designed for epidemiological uses, to identify genetic associations with observable traits. A 2006 study by Seldin et al. used over five thousand autosomal SNPs to demonstrate European genetic substructure. The results showed "a consistent and reproducible distinction between 'northern' and 'southern' European population groups". Most northern, central, and eastern Europeans (Finns, Swedes, English, Irish, Germans, and Ukrainians) showed >90% in the "northern" population group, while most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards) showed >85% in the "southern" group. Both Ashkenazi Jews as well as Sephardic Jews showed >85% membership in the "southern" group. Referring to the Jews clustering with southern Europeans, the authors state the results were "consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups". A 2007 study by Bauchet et al. found that Ashkenazi Jews were most closely clustered with Arabic North African populations when compared to Global population, and in the European structure analysis, they share similarities only with Greeks and Southern Italians, reflecting their east Mediterranean origins. A 2010 study on Jewish ancestry by Atzmon-Ostrer et al. stated "Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry", as both groups – the Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews – shared common ancestors in the Middle East about 2500 years ago. The study examines genetic markers spread across the entire genome and shows that the Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships and that each of the Jewish groups in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) has its own genetic signature but is more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their fellow non-Jewish countrymen. Atzmon's team found that the SNP markers in genetic segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews. Results of the analysis also tally with biblical accounts of the fate of the Jews. The study also found that with respect to non-Jewish European groups, the population most closely related to Ashkenazi Jews are modern-day Italians. The study speculated that the genetic-similarity between Ashkenazi Jews and Italians may be due to inter-marriage and conversions in the time of the Roman Empire. It was also found that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins. A 2010 study by Bray et al., using SNP
microarray A microarray is a multiplex Multiplex may refer to: * Multiplex (automobile), a former American car make * Multiplex (comics), a DC comic book supervillain * Multiplex communication or multiplexing, combining many signals into a single transmiss ...

microarray
techniques and
linkage analysis Genetic linkage is the tendency of DNA sequences that are close together on a chromosome to be inherited together during the meiosis phase of sexual reproduction. Two genetic markers that are physically near to each other are unlikely to be separa ...
found that when assuming
Druze Druze (; ar, درزي ' or ', plural ') are members of an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Mi ...
and
Palestinian Arab The Palestinian people ( ar, الشعب الفلسطيني, ''ash-sha‘b al-Filasṭīnī''), also referred to as Palestinians ( ar, الفلسطينيون, links=no, ''al-Filasṭīniyyūn''; he, פָלַסְטִינִים) or Palestinian A ...
populations to represent the reference to world Jewry ancestor genome, between 35 and 55 percent of the modern Ashkenazi genome can possibly be of European origin, and that European "admixture is considerably higher than previous estimates by studies that used the Y chromosome" with this reference point. Assuming this reference point the linkage disequilibrium in the Ashkenazi Jewish population was interpreted as "matches signs of interbreeding or 'admixture' between Middle Eastern and European populations". On the Bray et al. tree, Ashkenazi Jews were found to be a genetically more divergent population than
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = Wedding ceremony in the national Russian tradition. , population = 134 million , popplace = 117,319,000 , region1 = , pop1 = 7,170,00 ...

Russians
,
Orcadians Orcadians are the indigenous inhabitants of the Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, i ...
, French,
Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitania ...
,
Sardinians The Sardinians, or Sards ( sc, Sardos or Sardus; Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a R ...
,
Italians Italians ( it, italiani ) are a Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong att ...
and Tuscans. The study also observed that Ashkenazim are more diverse than their Middle Eastern relatives, which was counterintuitive because Ashkenazim are supposed to be a subset, not a superset, of their assumed geographical source population. Bray et al. therefore postulate that these results reflect not the population antiquity but a history of mixing between genetically distinct populations in Europe. However, it is possible that the relaxation of marriage prescription in the ancestors of Ashkenazim drove their heterozygosity up, while the maintenance of the FBD rule in native Middle Easterners has been keeping their heterozygosity values in check. Ashkenazim distinctiveness as found in the Bray et al. study, therefore, may come from their ethnic endogamy (ethnic inbreeding), which allowed them to "mine" their ancestral gene pool in the context of relative reproductive isolation from European neighbors, and not from clan endogamy (clan inbreeding). Consequently, their higher diversity compared to Middle Easterners stems from the latter's marriage practices, not necessarily from the former's admixture with Europeans. The genome-wide genetic study carried out in 2010 by Behar et al. examined the genetic relationships among all major Jewish groups, including Ashkenazim, as well as the genetic relationship between these Jewish groups and non-Jewish ethnic populations. The study found that contemporary Jews (excluding Indian and Ethiopian Jews) have a close genetic relationship with people from the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
. The authors explained that "the most parsimonious explanation for these observations is a common genetic origin, which is consistent with an historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
and
Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israe ...
residents of the Levant". A study by Behar et al. (2013) found evidence in Ashkenazim of mixed European and Levantine origins. The authors found the greatest affinity and shared ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews to be firstly with other Jewish groups from southern Europe, Syria, and North Africa, and secondly with both southern Europeans (such as Italians) and modern Levantines (such as the
Druze Druze (; ar, درزي ' or ', plural ') are members of an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Mi ...
, Cypriots, Lebanese and
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an originating from the of historical . They are native to the and adhere to , an , and in t ...

Samaritans
). In addition to finding no affinity in Ashkenazim with northern Caucasus populations, the authors found no more affinity in Ashkenazi Jews to modern south Caucasus and eastern Anatolian populations (such as
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, ''Romanization of Armenian, hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Republic of Artsakh, A ...
,
Azeris Azerbaijanis (; az, Azərbaycanlılar) or Azeris (), also known as Azerbaijani Turks ( az, Azərbaycan Türkləri, ), are a Turkic ethnic group, living mainly in the sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; ...
,
Georgians The Georgians, or Kartvelians (; ka, ქართველები, tr, ), are a nation and indigenous Caucasian Caucasian may refer to: Anthropology *Anything from the Caucasus region **Peoples of the Caucasus, humans from the Caucasus reg ...

Georgians
, and Turks) than found in non-Ashkenazi Jews or non-Jewish Middle Easterners (such as the
Kurds Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ...
, Iranians, Druze and Lebanese). A 2017 autosomal study by Xue, Shai Carmi et al. found an approximately even mixture of Middle-Eastern and European ancestry in Ashkenazi Jews: with the European component being largely Southern European with a minority being Eastern European, and the Middle Eastern ancestry showing the strongest affinity to Levantine populations such as the Druze and Lebanese.


The Khazar hypothesis

In the late 19th century, it was proposed that the core of today's Ashkenazi Jewry are genetically descended from a hypothetical Khazarian Jewish diaspora who had migrated westward from modern Russia and Ukraine into modern France and Germany (as opposed to the currently held theory that Jews migrated from France and Germany into Eastern Europe). The hypothesis is not corroborated by historical sources, and is unsubstantiated by genetics, but it is still occasionally supported by scholars who have had some success in keeping the theory in the academic consciousness. The theory has sometimes been used by Jewish authors such as
Arthur Koestler Arthur Koestler, (, ; ; hu, Kösztler Artúr; 5 September 1905 – 1 March 1983) was a Hungarian British Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation ...
as part of an argument against traditional forms of antisemitism (for example the claim that "the Jews killed Christ"), just as similar arguments have been advanced on behalf of the
Crimean Karaites The Crimean Karaites or Krymkaraylar (Crimean Karaim: Кърымкъарайлар, ''Qrımqaraylar'', singular къарай, ''qaray''; Trakai Trakai () (see names section for alternate and historic names) is a historic city and lake resort ...
. Today, however, the theory is more often associated with
antisemitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is generally considered to be a form of racism. A ...
and
anti-Zionism Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionism was the founder of the Modern Zionist movement. In his 1896 pamphlet ''Der Judenstaat'', he envisioned the founding of a future independent Jewish state during the 20th century. Zionism ( he, צִיּ ...
. A 2013 trans-genome study carried out by 30 geneticists, from 13 universities and academies, from 9 countries, assembling the largest data set available to date, for assessment of Ashkenazi Jewish genetic origins found no evidence of Khazar origin among Ashkenazi Jews. The authors concluded:
"Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region."
The authors found no affinity in Ashkenazim with north Caucasus populations, as well as no greater affinity in Ashkenazim to south Caucasus or Anatolian populations than that found in non-Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jewish Middle Easterners (such as the Kurds, Iranians, Druze and Lebanese). The greatest affinity and shared ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews were found to be (after those with other Jewish groups from southern Europe, Syria, and North Africa) with both southern Europeans and Levantines such as Druze, Cypriot, Lebanese and Samaritan groups.


Medical genetics

There are many references to Ashkenazi Jews in the literature of medical and population genetics. Indeed, much awareness of "Ashkenazi Jews" as an ethnic group or category stems from the large number of genetic studies of disease, including many that are well reported in the media, that have been conducted among Jews. Jewish populations have been studied more thoroughly than most other human populations, for a variety of reasons: * Jewish populations, and particularly the large Ashkenazi Jewish population, are ideal for such research studies, because they exhibit a high degree of
endogamy Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of un ...
, yet they are sizable. * Jewish communities are comparatively well informed about genetics research, and have been supportive of community efforts to study and prevent genetic diseases. The result is a form of
ascertainment bias In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with ...
. This has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations. Healthcare professionals are often taught to consider those of Ashkenazi descent to be at increased risk for
colon cancer Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is the development of cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of th ...
.
Genetic counseling Genetic counseling is the process of advising individuals and families affected by or at risk of genetic disorders to help them understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease; this fi ...
and
genetic testing Genetic testing, also known as DNA testing, is used to identify changes in DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist o ...
are often undertaken by couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some organizations, most notably , organize screening programs to prevent
homozygosity Zygosity (the noun, zygote A zygote (from Greek ζυγωτός ''zygōtos'' "joined" or "yoked", from ζυγοῦν ''zygoun'' "to join" or "to yoke") is a eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between two gamete A gamete ( /ˈɡ ...
for the
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
s that cause related diseases.Se
Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders
/ref>


See also

*
Jewish ethnic divisions Jewish ethnic divisions refer to many distinctive communities within the world's Ethnicity, ethnically Jewish population. Although considered a Cultural identity, self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinct ethnic subdivisions among Jews, most ...
* List of Israeli Ashkenazi Jews


Notes


References


References for "Who is an Ashkenazi Jew?"

* * * *


Other references

* Beider, Alexander (2001): ''A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciations, and Migrations''. Avotaynu. . * Biale, David (2002): ''Cultures of the Jews: A New History''. Schoken Books. . * * Brook, Kevin Alan (2003): "The Origins of East European Jews" in ''Russian History/Histoire Russe'' vol. 30, nos. 1–2, pp. 1–22. * Gross, N. (1975): ''Economic History of the Jews''.
Schocken Books Schocken Books is an offspring of the ''Schocken Verlag'', a publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers ...
, New York. * Haumann, Heiko (2001): ''A History of East European Jews''.
Central European University Press Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
. . * Kriwaczek, Paul (2005): ''Yiddish Civilization: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation''. , New York. * Lewis, Bernard (1984): ''The Jews of Islam''.
Princeton University Press Princeton University Press is an independent publisher Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creatio ...

Princeton University Press
. . * Bukovec, Predrag
''East and South-East European Jews in the 19th and 20th Centuries''
European History Online European History Online (''Europäische Geschichte Online, EGO'') is an academic website that publishes articles on the history of Europe between the period of 1450 and 1950 according to the principle of open access Open access (OA) is a set ...
, Mainz:
Institute of European HistoryThe Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz Mainz (; ) is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western states of Germany, state of Germany. It covers and has a ...
, 2010, retrieved: 17 December 2012. * Vital, David (1999): ''A People Apart: A History of the Jews in Europe''.
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
. .


External links


The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
*



European Journal of Human Genetics, 2007 * ttp://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2156/9/14 "Analysis of genetic variation in Ashkenazi Jews by high density SNP genotyping"
Nusach Ashkenaz, and Discussion Forum

Ashkenaz Heritage
{{Authority control Ashkenazi Jews topics Ethnic groups in Israel Ethnic groups in Russia Ethnic groups in the United States Jewish ethnic groups Middle Eastern people Semitic-speaking peoples