Judaism 2453

California, Miami, Florida, and New York City.
Some descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel,
exiled by the Assyrians in 721 BCE, also are
returning to Judaism. Some, especially from
India, have returned to Israel to live. Black Jews
from Ethiopia also have returned to Israel in
large numbers, undergoing conversion once in
Israel. Among all these returnee groups, there is
a desire, so far unfulfilled, for a return cere
mony rather than a conversion ceremony.
The belief that Jews are a race has been held
by most non Jews and some Jews until recent
decades, and historically has been used as an
excuse for major anti Semitic actions. The Cru
sades, the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, the
pogroms (mob attacks on Jews, often for fun) in
Eastern Europe, and the Holocaust all have had
various degrees of racial, religious, and social
reasons for anti Semitism. The racial dimension
has often been the most severe, especially during
the Holocaust. It was the pogroms in Russia
which gave impetus to the First Aliyah in
18812 and began the large scale return of Jews
to Israel as part of the Zionist movement. In
recent decades the concept of race has decreased
in importance and more attention has been put
on genetic (DNA) clusters. There is a Middle
Eastern genetic base shared by about two thirds
of Jews in the world, and the closest genetic
relatives of Jews as a group are other Middle
Eastern groups such as Palestinians, Syrians,
and Lebanese.
Recent studies conclude that there are about
13 million (12,950,000) Jews in the world
today, with 60.7 percent (7,856,000) in the
Diaspora and 39.3 percent (5,094,000) in Israel.
The Americas account for 46.9 percent
(6,071,100) of world Jewry, with the US alone
accounting for 40.9 percent (5,300,000). This
has decreased in the last few decades, largely
because of intermarriage and loss of children to
Judaism. In the Americas, other than the US,
the largest populations are in Canada (370,500),
Argentina (187,000), Brazil (97,000), and Mex
ico (40,000).
Hashoah (the Holocaust) killed about
6,000,000 Jews 37 percent of all world Jewry
mostly in Europe. Until then, 60 percent of
world Jewry lived in Europe. Now, Europe has
only 12.0 percent (1,550,800) of world Jewry.
The three largest populations are found in
France (498,000), of whom many are post 1948
exiles from Morocco, Algeria, and other North
African countries, the United Kingdom
(300,000), and Germany (108,000), most of
whom are immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Next in size in Europe are Russia (252,000),
Ukraine (95,000), Hungary (50,000), Belgium
(31,400), the Netherlands (30,000), Italy
(29,000), and Belarus (23,000). In the 1990s
about 900,000 Jews left the former Soviet Union
and moved to Israel. Iran, Iraq, and North
African countries historically had large Jewish
populations, but most of these Jews (about
870,000) left in the 15 years after 1948 because
of hostility against them after Israels indepen
dence in 1948 and the rise of Islamic based
nationalism in North Africa. About 600,000
moved to Israel, and today about half of the
population of Israel is Sephardi or Mizrahi.
The above figures, given annually in the
American Jewish Year Book, are estimates and
include people who identify as Jewish, whether
or not they are active followers of, or even
believers in, Judaism. Once again, the definition
of who is a Jew includes a mixture of religious
and cultural identities, and, for countries where
anti Semitism persists, racial components.

SEE ALSO: Anthropology, Cultural and Social:
Early History; Anti Semitism (Religion); Anti
Semitism (Social Change); Assimilation; Ethni
city; Holocaust; Orthodoxy; Religion, Sociology
of; Women, Religion and

REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED
READINGS

Benbassa, E. & Attias, J. (2001) The Jews and Their
Future: A Conversation on Judaism and Jewish Iden
tities. Zed Books, London.
Kleiman, Y. (2004) DNA and Tradition: The Genetic
Link to the Ancient Hebrews. Devora Publishing,
Jerusalem.
Kriwaczek, P. (2005) Yiddish Civilization: The Rise
and Fall of a Forgotten Nation. Alfred A. Knopf,
New York.
Lavenda, R. & Schultz, E. (2003) Core Concepts in
Cultural Anthropology. McGraw-Hill, Boston.
Lavender, A. (2005) Sephardi, Ashkenazi, and Kurd-
ish Jewish DNA Patterns: Comparisons to Each
Other and to Non-Jews. HaLapid: Journal of
Crypto Judaic Studies 12: 1 7.