ASHKENAZI JEWS, also known as ASHKENAZIC JEWS or simply ASHKENAZIM
Hebrew : אַשְׁכְּנַזִּים, Ashkenazi Hebrew
pronunciation: , singular: , Modern Hebrew: ; also יְהוּדֵי
אַשְׁכְּנַז Y'hudey Ashkenaz), are a Jewish diaspora
population who coalesced as a distinct community in the Holy Roman
Empire around the end of the first millennium .
The traditional diaspora language of Ashkenazi
Germanic language which incorporates several dialects), with Hebrew
used only as a sacred language until relatively recently. Throughout
their time in Europe, Ashkenazim have made many important
contributions to philosophy, scholarship, literature, art, music, and
Ashkenazim originate from the
Jews who settled along the Rhine River,
Germany and Northern France. There they became a distinct
diaspora community with a unique way of life that adapted traditions
from Babylon, The Land of Israel, and the Western
their new environment. The Ashkenazi religious rite developed in
cities such as
Mainz , Worms, and Troyes. The eminent French Rishon
Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki (
Rashi ) would have a significant impact on the
In the late
Middle Ages , the majority of the Ashkenazi population
shifted steadily eastward, moving out of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire into
Lithuania (comprising parts of present-day
Belarus , Latvia
Russia , and
Ukraine ). In the
course of the late 18th and 19th centuries, those
Jews who remained in
or returned to the German lands experienced a cultural reorientation;
under the influence of the
Haskalah and the struggle for emancipation,
as well as the intellectual and cultural ferment in urban centers,
they gradually abandoned the use of Yiddish, while developing new
forms of Jewish religious life and cultural identity.
The genocidal impact of the
Holocaust (the mass murder of
approximately six million
World War II
World War II ) devastated the
Ashkenazim and their culture, affecting almost every Jewish family.
It is estimated that in the 11th century Ashkenazi
Jews composed only
three percent of the world's total Jewish population , while at their
peak in 1931 they accounted for 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. Statistical figures vary for the
contemporary demography of Ashkenazi Jews, oscillating between 10
million and 11.2 million.
Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation
Mizrahi Jews , implies that Ashkenazi
Jews make up
less than 74% of
Jews worldwide. Other estimates place Ashkenazi Jews
as making up about 75% of
Genetic studies on Ashkenazim —researching both their paternal and
maternal lineages—suggest a significant proportion of Middle Eastern
ancestry. Those studies have arrived at diverging conclusions
regarding both the degree and the sources of their European ancestry,
and have generally focused on the extent of the European genetic
origin observed in Ashkenazi maternal lineages. Ashkenazi
popularly contrasted with
Sephardi Jews (also called Sephardim), who
Jews who settled in the
Iberian Peninsula , and Mizrahi
Jews , who descend from
Jews who remained in the Middle East. There
are some differences in how the groups pronounce certain Hebrew
letters, and in points of ritual.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 History of
Jews in Europe before the Ashkenazim
* 2.2 High and Late
Middle Ages migrations
* 2.3 Medieval references
* 2.4 Modern history
* 3 Definition
* 3.1 By religion
* 3.2 By culture
* 3.3 By ethnicity
* 4 Customs, laws and traditions
* 4.1 Ashkenazic liturgy
* 4.2 Ashkenazi as a surname
* 5 Relations with
* 6 Notable Ashkenazim
* 7 Genetics
* 7.1 Genetic origins
* 7.1.1 Male lineages: Y-chromosomal DNA
* 7.1.2 Female lineages: Mitochondrial DNA
* 7.1.3 Association and linkage studies
* 7.2 The
* 7.3 Medical genetics
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 References for "Who is an Ashkenazi Jew?"
* 9.2 Other references
* 10 External links
The name Ashkenazi derives from the biblical figure of
Ashkenaz , the
first son of
Gomer , son of
Japhet , son of
Noah , and a Japhetic
patriarch in the
Table of Nations (Genesis 10). The name of
often been linked to the ethnonym
Cimmerians . Biblical
usually derived from Assyrian Aškūza (cuneiform Aškuzai/Iškuzai),
a people who expelled the
Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the
Upper Euphrates, whose name is usually associated with the name of
Scythians . The intrusive n in the Biblical name is likely due
to a scribal error confusing a waw ו with a nun נ .
In Jeremiah 51:27,
Ashkenaz figures as one of three kingdoms in the
far north, the others being Minni and Ararat, perhaps corresponding to
Urartu , called on by God to resist Babylon.
Yoma tractate of the Babylonian
Talmud the name
rendered as Germania, which elsewhere in rabbinical literature was
identified with Germanikia in northwestern Syria, but later became
associated with Germania.
Ashkenaz is linked to Scandza/Scanzia ,
viewed as the cradle of Germanic tribes, as early as a 6th-century
gloss to the Historia Ecclesiastica of
Eusebius . In the 10th-century
History of Armenia of Yovhannes Drasxanakertc\'i (1.15)
associated with Armenia, as it was occasionally in Jewish usage,
where its denotation extended at times to
Khazaria , Crimea
and areas to the east. His contemporary
Saadia Gaon identified
Ashkenaz with the Saquliba or Slavic territories , and such usage
covered also the lands of tribes neighboring the Slavs, and Eastern
and Central Europe. In modern times,
Samuel Krauss identified the
Biblical "Ashkenaz" with
Sometime in the early medieval period, the
Jews of central and
eastern Europe came to be called by this term. In conformity with the
custom of designating areas of Jewish settlement with biblical names,
Spain was denominated Sefarad (Obadiah 20),
France was called Tsarefat
(1 Kings 17:9 ), and
Bohemia was called the Land of
Canaan . By the
high medieval period, Talmudic commentators like
Rashi began to use
Ashkenaz to designate
Germany , earlier known as Loter
, where, especially in the
Rhineland communities of
Speyer , Worms
Mainz , the most important Jewish communities arose.
Ashkenaz (Ashkenazi language) to describe German speech, and
Byzantium and Syrian Jewish letters referred to the Crusaders as
Ashkenazim. Given the close links between the Jewish communities of
Germany following the Carolingian unification , the term
Ashkenazi came to refer to both the
Jews of medieval
HISTORY OF JEWS IN EUROPE BEFORE THE ASHKENAZIM
Outside of their origins in ancient
Israel , the history of
Ashkenazim is shrouded in mystery, and many theories have arisen
speculating on their emergence as a distinct community of Jews. The
most well-supported theory is the one that details a Jewish migration
Israel through what is now Italy and other parts of southern
Europe. The historical record attests to Jewish communities in
southern Europe since pre-
Christian times. Many
Jews were denied full
Roman citizenship until 212 CE when Emperor
Caracalla granted all free
peoples this privilege.
Jews were required to pay a poll tax until the
reign of Emperor Julian in 363. In the late Roman Empire,
free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into
various local occupations. But, after
Christianity became the official
Constantinople in 380,
Jews were increasingly
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
Herodotus knew of the Jews, whom he called "Palestinian
Syrians", and listed them among the levied naval forces in service of
the invading Persians. 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 , 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
Christian basilica. Hellenistic
Judaism thrived in
Alexandria , many of these Greek-speaking
Jews would convert to
Christianity. Sporadic epigraphic evidence in grave site
excavations, particularly in Brigetio (
Szőny ), Aquincum (
Dunaújváros ), Triccinae (
Sárvár ), Savaria
Szombathely ), Sopianae (
Pécs ) in Hungary, and
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
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 C.E.
Jews and especially
Syrians came from
Antioch , Tarsus and
Cappadocia . 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 Patai 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 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
Germany itself, with the possible exception of
Trier and Cologne , the
archeological evidence suggests at most a fleeting presence of very
few Jews, primarily itinerant traders or artisans. A substantial
Jewish population emerged in northern
Gaul by the Middle Ages, but
Jewish communities existed in 465 CE in Brittany, in 524 CE in
Valence, and in 533 CE in Orleans. Throughout this period and into
the early Middle Ages, some
Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek
and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to
Christianity . King
Dagobert I of the
Franks expelled the
Jews from his Merovingian
kingdom in 629.
Jews in former Roman territories faced new challenges
as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.
Charlemagne 's expansion of the Frankish empire around 800, including
northern Italy and Rome, brought on a brief period of stability and
Francia . This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to
settle again north of the Alps.
Charlemagne granted the
similar to those once enjoyed under the
Roman Empire . In addition,
Jews from southern Italy, fleeing religious persecution, began to move
into central Europe. Returning to Frankish lands, many Jewish
merchants took up occupations in finance and commerce, including money
lending, or usury . (Church legislation banned Christians from lending
money in exchange for interest .) From Charlemagne's time to the
present, Jewish life in northern Europe is well documented. By the
11th century, when
Troyes wrote his commentaries,
what came to be known as "Ashkenaz" were known for their halakhic
learning , and Talmudic studies . They were criticized by Sephardim
and other Jewish scholars in Islamic lands for their lack of expertise
in Jewish jurisprudence (dinim) and general ignorance of Hebrew
linguistics and literature.
Yiddish emerged as a result of
Judeo-Latin language contact with various High German vernaculars in
the medieval period. It is a Germanic language written in Hebrew
letters, and heavily influenced by
Hebrew and Aramaic , with some
elements of Romance and later
Slavic languages .
HIGH AND LATE MIDDLE AGES MIGRATIONS
Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the
Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th century. By the 11th
century Jewish settlers, moving from southern European and Middle
Eastern centers, 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
Jews to settle in his lands; and soon after the Norman Conquest
of England ,
William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror likewise extended a welcome to
Jews to take up residence there. Bishop Rüdiger Huzmann
called on the
Mainz to relocate to
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. 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 and the culture of the
Talmud that underlies it became established in southern
Italy and then spread north to Ashkenaz.
Numerous massacres of
Jews occurred throughout Europe during the
Crusades . Inspired by the preaching of a First Crusade,
crusader mobs in
Germany perpetrated the Rhineland
massacres 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
Sephardic Jewry in Spain. Expulsions from England (1290),
France (1394), and parts of
Germany (15th century), gradually pushed
Ashkenazi Jewry eastward, to
Poland (10th century),
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 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. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest
By the 15th century, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in
the largest Jewish communities of the
Diaspora . This area, which
eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and Prussia
(Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the
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 contempt did not prevent some assimilation.
Jews lived almost exclusively in shtetls , maintained a
strong system of education for males, heeded rabbinic leadership, and
scorned the lifestyle of their neighbors; and all of these tendencies
increased with every outbreak of antisemitism .
Jews from Worms (Germany) wear the mandatory yellow badge .
In the first half of the 11th century,
Hai Gaon refers to questions
that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly
Rashi 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 , 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
Ashkenaz often occur. Examples include
Solomon ben Aderet
's Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of
Asher ben Jehiel (pp.
4, 6); his Halakot (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p. 10); the work of his
Jacob ben Asher , Tur Orach Chayim (chapter 59); the Responsa of
Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270).
Midrash compilation, Genesis Rabbah,
Rabbi Berechiah mentions
Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands.
It may correspond to a Greek word that may have existed in the Greek
dialect of the
Syria Palaestina , or the text is corrupted
from "Germanica." This view of Berechiah is based on the
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 , and many others, give the piyyutim according to the Minhag
Ashkenaz and Poland.
According to 16th-century mystic
Elijah of Chelm , Ashkenazi
Jews lived in
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 came to
siege Jerusalem, one of Dolberger's family members who was among them
Jews in Palestine and carried them back to Worms to repay the
favor. Further evidence of German communities in the holy city comes
in the form of halakhic questions sent from
Germany to Jerusalem
during the second half of the 11th century.
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
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
In an essay on
Daniel Elazar at the
for Public Affairs summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi
Jews in the last thousand years, noting that at the end of the 11th
century, 97% of world Jewry was
Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazi; by the end
of the 16th century, the: 'Treaty on the redemption of captives', by
Gracian of the God's Mother, Mercy Priest, who was imprisoned by
Turks, cites a Tunisian Hebrew, made captive when arriving to Gaeta,
who aided others with money, named: 'Simon Escanasi', in the mid-17th
Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two", but by
the end of the 18th century, "Ashkenazim outnumbered
to two, the result of improved living conditions in
versus the Ottoman Muslim world." By 1931, Ashkenazi
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
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 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 pogroms in the east and the economic
opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi
made up the majority of the American Jewish community since 1750.
In the context of the European Enlightenment , Jewish emancipation
began in 18th century
France and spread throughout Western and Central
Europe. Disabilities 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 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 ). Newfound inclusion into public life led
to cultural growth in the
Haskalah , or Jewish Enlightenment, with its
goal of integrating modern European values into Jewish life. As a
reaction to increasing antisemitism and assimilation following the
Zionism was developed in central Europe. Other Jews,
particularly those in the
Pale of Settlement , turned to socialism .
These tendencies would be united in Labor
Zionism , the founding
ideology of the State of Israel.
Jewish woman chased by men and youth armed with clubs during the
Lviv pogroms , July 1941, then occupied
Poland , now
Of the estimated 8.8 million
Jews living in Europe at the beginning
World War II
World War II , the majority of whom were Ashkenazi, about 6 million
– more than two-thirds – were systematically murdered in the
Holocaust . These included 3 million of 3.3 million
Polish Jews (91%);
900,000 of 1.5 million in
Ukraine (60%); and 50–90% of the
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
the former Yugoslavia. As the large majority of the victims were
Ashkenazi Jews, their percentage dropped from nearly 92% of world
Jewry in 1931 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
Many of the surviving Ashkenazi
Jews emigrated to countries such as
Israel, Canada, Argentina,
Australia , and the
United States after the
Following the Holocaust, some sources place Ashkenazim today as
making up approximately 83–85 percent of
Jews worldwide, while
Sergio DellaPergola in a rough calculation of
Sephardic and Mizrahi
Jews , implies that Ashkenazi make up a notably lower figure, less
than 74%. Other estimates place Ashkenazi
Jews as making up about 75%
Jews worldwide. Ashkenazi
Jews constitute around 35–36% of
Israel's total population, or 47.5% of Israel's Jewish population.
Main article: Ashkenazi
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
Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi,
Yemenite, Kurdish and others who have no connection with the 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.
Jews living in
Israel are obliged to follow the
authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakhic 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 , a unicameral legislature with 120
People of Ashkenazi descent constitute around 47.5% of Israeli Jews
(and therefore 35–36% of Israelis). They 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 ". That is
to say, all Jewish immigrants who arrived in
Israel were strongly
encouraged to "melt down" their own particular exilic identities
within the general social "pot" in order to become Israeli.
The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis in the
Abraham Isaac Kook : (23 February 1921 – 1 September 1935)
Isaac Halevi Herzog : (1937 – 25 July 1959)
Isser Yehuda Unterman : (1964–1972)
Shlomo Goren : (1972–1983)
Avraham Shapira : (1983–1993)
Israel Meir Lau : (1993 – 3 April 2003)
* She\'ar Yashuv Cohen (acting): (3 April 2003 – 14 April 2003)
Yona Metzger : (14 April 2003 – 14 August 2013)
David Lau : (14 August 2013 – present)
Who is a Jew?
Jews have Minhagim , customs, in addition to
Halakha , or
religious law, and different interpretations of law. Different groups
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,
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
Jew converts to
Judaism and determines what customs to follow
for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant
Jew returns to
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.
Judaism , 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 follows Ashkenazi practice. Until the Ashkenazi
community first began to develop in the Early
Middle Ages , the
centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at
Baghdad and in Islamic Spain .
Ashkenaz (Germany) was so distant
geographically that it developed a minhag 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 , since
most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox
authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By
Mizrahi woman who marries into an Orthodox
or Haredi Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi
Jews; conversely an Ashkenazi woman who marries a
Sephardi or Mizrahi
man is expected to take on
Sephardic practice and the children inherit
Sephardic identity, though in practice many families compromise. A
convert generally follows the practice of the beth din 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
Jew is blurring, especially outside Orthodox
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
Jews of diverse ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, there has
been increased interest in
Kabbalah , which many Ashkenazi
outside of the
Yeshiva framework. Another trend is the new popularity
of ecstatic worship in the
Jewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach
style minyan , both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin.
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Culturally, an Ashkenazi
Jew can be identified by the concept of
Yiddishkeit , which means "Jewishness" in the
Yiddish language .
Yiddishkeit is specifically the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews. Before
Haskalah and the emancipation of
Jews in Europe, this meant the
Talmud for men, and a family and communal life
governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the
Riga to Romania, most
Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi
Hebrew, and spoke
Yiddish in their secular lives. But with
Yiddishkeit now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and
Hasidism , 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
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.
Jews moved away from Europe, mostly in the form of
aliyah to Israel, or immigration to North America, and other
English-speaking areas such as
South Africa ; and Europe (particularly
Latin America , the geographic isolation that gave rise to
Ashkenazim has given way to mixing with other cultures, and with
Jews who, similarly, are no longer isolated in distinct
Hebrew has replaced
Yiddish as the primary Jewish
language for many Ashkenazi Jews, although many
Hasidic 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.
France expelled its original Jewish population in the Middle
Ages , by the time of the
French Revolution , there were two distinct
Jewish populations. One consisted of
Sephardic Jews, originally
refugees from the
Inquisition and concentrated in the southwest, while
the other community was Ashkenazi, concentrated in formerly German
Alsace , and mainly speaking a German dialect similar to Yiddish. (A
third community of Provençal
Jews living in
Comtat Venaissin were
technically outside France, and were later absorbed into the
Sephardim.) The two communities were so separate and different that
the National Assembly emancipated them separately in 1790 and 1791.
But after emancipation, a sense of a unified French Jewry emerged,
France was wracked by the
Dreyfus affair in the 1890s.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Ashkenazi
Jews from Europe arrived in large
numbers as refugees from antisemitism , the Russian revolution , and
the economic turmoil of the
Great Depression . By the 1930s,
Yiddish culture, and many
Jews were involved in diverse
political movements. After the Vichy years and the
Holocaust , the
French Jewish population was augmented once again, first by Ashkenazi
refugees from Central Europe, and later by
Sephardi immigrants and
North Africa , many of them francophone .
Then, in the 1990s, yet another Ashkenazi Jewish wave began to arrive
from countries of the former
Soviet Union 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.
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 haplotypes ) and for
matrilineal markers (mitotypes ). 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
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
relative ease. It is noteworthy that these Haredi
Jews often have
extremely large families.
CUSTOMS, LAWS AND TRADITIONS
The Halakhic practices of (Orthodox ) Ashkenazi
Jews may differ from
Sephardi Jews , particularly in matters of custom.
Differences are noted in the
Shulkhan Arukh itself, in the gloss of
Moses Isserles . Well known differences in practice include: The
example of the chevra kadisha , the Jewish burial society, Prague,
* Observance of Pesach (Passover): Ashkenazi
refrain from eating legumes , grain, millet , and rice (quinoa ,
however, has become accepted as foodgrain in the North American
Sephardi Jews typically do not prohibit these
Jews freely mix and eat fish and milk products; some
Jews refrain from doing so.
* Ashkenazim are more permissive toward the usage of wigs as a hair
covering for married and widowed women.
* In the case of kashrut 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 removal of the 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
Jews frequently 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 , where Ashkenazim
for centuries used the naming conventions otherwise attributed
Sephardim such as
* Ashkenazi tefillin bear some differences from
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 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 (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
Mizrahi Judaism, the prayer shawl is commonly worn from early
Part of a series on
JEWS AND JUDAISM
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* God in
Judaism (names )
* Principles of faith
* Mitzvot (613 )
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* Bar and Bat
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LAND OF ISRAEL
LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN
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* Historical population comparisons
* Conversion to
Hebrew (Biblical )
Jewish Koine Greek
* Ghardaïa Sign
* Ancient history
Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
* Temple in
* timeline )
* History of the
Jews in the Byzantine Empire
* Hinduism and
* Golden Age
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* Baal teshuva
* Politics of
* Revisionist )
* World Agudath
Jewish left / right
The term Ashkenazi also refers to the nusach
"liturgical tradition", or rite) used by Ashkenazi
Jews in their
Siddur (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
Nusach Sefard (not to be confused
Sephardic ritual ), which is the general Polish Hasidic
Nusach Ari , as used by Lubavitch Hasidim.
ASHKENAZI AS A SURNAME
Several famous people have Ashkenazi as a surname , such as Vladimir
Ashkenazy . However, most people with this surname hail from within
Sephardic communities, particularly from the Syrian Jewish community.
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 not always been warm.
North African Sepharadim and Berber
Jews were often looked 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 led by
Saadia Marciano , a Moroccan
Nowadays, relations are getting better. In some instances, Ashkenazi
communities have accepted significant numbers of
sometimes resulting in intermarriage.
Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence and List of Ashkenazi
Jews have a noted history of achievement in Western
societies in the fields of exact and social sciences, 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. While they make up about 2% of the U.S.
population, 27% of
Nobel prize winners in the 20th
century, a quarter of
Fields Medal winners, 25% of ACM Turing Award
winners, half the world's chess champions, including 8% of the top
100 world chess players, and a quarter of Westinghouse Science Talent
Search winners have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
Time magazine 's person of the 20th century,
Albert Einstein , was
an Ashkenazi Jew. According to a study performed by Cambridge
University , 21% of Ivy League students, 25% of the Turing Award
winners, 23% of the wealthiest Americans, and 38% of the Oscar-winning
film directors, and 29% of Oslo awardees are Ashkenazi Jews.
Genetic studies on Jews
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
(mtDNA ), and Y-chromosomal DNA (
Y-DNA ). 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
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
regions 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
Jews display the homogeneity of a genetic
bottleneck , 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 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 exists in both
lineages, albeit at differing rates. Collectively, Ashkenazi
less genetically diverse than other
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions , due to
their genetic bottleneck.
Male Lineages: Y-chromosomal DNA
The majority of genetic findings to date concerning Ashkenazi Jews
conclude that the male line was founded by ancestors from the Middle
East. Others have found a similar genetic line among Greeks, and
A study of haplotypes of the Y-chromosome, published in 2000,
addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al. found
Y-chromosome of Ashkenazi and
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 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 "
Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the
Near East 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. Based on the accounts of
Syrian Orthodox bishop
Bar Hebraeus who lived between 1226 and 1286
CE, 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.
Gregory Cochran largely disproved him. One comment by Tacitus
mentioned the presence of 4,000
Jews in Rome, enough to sustain a
number of synagogues, including a Samaritan synagogue.
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 ) chromosomes, which are very frequent in Central
and Eastern Europeans (54%–60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in
Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that the differences among
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 R1a1a (M17+) , the dominant Y-chromosome
haplogroup in Central and Eastern Europeans.
Female Lineages: Mitochondrial DNA
Before 2006, geneticists had largely attributed the ethnogenesis 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 /Levantine 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, however, a study of Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA by a team
led by Martin B. Richards of the
University of Huddersfield in England
reached different conclusions, corroborating 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
states that the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not
brought from the
Near East (i.e., they were non-Israelite), nor were
they recruited in the Caucasus (i.e., they were non-
Khazar ), but
instead they were assimilated within Europe, primarily of Italian and
Old French origins. Richards summarized the findings on the female
line as such: "one came from the North Caucasus, located along the
border between Europe and Asia between the Black and Caspian seas. All
of our presently available studies including my own, should thoroughly
debunk one of the most questionable, but still tenacious, hypotheses:
that most Ashkenazi
Jews can trace their roots to the mysterious
Khazar Kingdom that flourished during the ninth century in the region
between the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire." The 2013 study
estimated that 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from
women indigenous to 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
Technion 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. has found that Ashkenazi Jews
display a frequency of haplogroup K in their maternal DNA that
suggests an ancient Near Eastern origin, similar to the results of
Behar. He stated that this observation clearly contradicts the results
of the study led by Richards that suggested a European source for 3
exclusively Ashkenazi K lineages.
Association And Linkage Studies
In genetic epidemiology , a genome-wide association study (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.
Jews as well as
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
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
European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of
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
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
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
A 2010 study by Bray et al., using SNP microarray techniques and
linkage analysis found that when assuming
Druze and Palestinian Arab
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, Orcadians, French, Basques, Italians, Sardinians 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's possible that the relaxation of marriage
prescription in the ancestors of Ashkenazim that drove their
heterozygosity up, while the maintenance of the FBD rule in native
Middle Easterners have 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
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
Jews (excluding Indian and Ethiopian Jews) have a
close genetic relationship with people from the 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
Israelite residents of the Levant".
THE KHAZAR HYPOTHESIS
Khazar hypothesis of Ashkenazi ancestry
In the late 19th century, it was proposed that the core of today's
Ashkenazi Jewry are genetically descended from a hypothetical
Jewish diaspora who had migrated westward from modern Russia
Ukraine into modern
Germany (as opposed to the
currently held theory that
Germany migrated 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 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 . Today, however, the theory is more often associated with
antisemitism and anti-
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.
"Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi
Jews together with a large sample from
the region of the
Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results
Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations
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 concluded.
Main article: Medical genetics of
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 , 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 . 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.
Genetic counseling and genetic testing are often undertaken by
couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some
organizations, most notably
Dor Yeshorim , organize screening programs
to prevent homozygosity for the genes that cause related diseases.
* History of the
Jews in Europe
* History of the
* History of the
* History of the
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions
* List of Israeli Ashkenazi
Memorbuch , a book dedicated to the memory of martyrs
* ^ A B C "Ashkenazi Jews". The
Hebrew University of
Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October
* ^ A B "First genetic mutation for colorectal cancer identified in
Ashkenazi Jews". The Gazette. Johns Hopkins University. 8 September
1997. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
* ^ Feldman, Gabriel E. (May 2001). "Do Ashkenazi
Jews have a
Higher than expected Cancer Burden? Implications for cancer control
Israel Medical Association Journal . 3 (5):
341–46. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
* ^ A B Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2009, CBS . "Table 2.24 –
Jews, by country of origin and age" (PDF). Retrieved 22 March 2010.
* ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/18/language/yid/
* ^ A B C D "Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of
Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and
Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation" (PDF). Archived from the
original (PDF) on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
* ^ A B C "
Jews Are The Genetic Brothers Of Palestinians, Syrians,
And Lebanese". Science Daily. 2000-05-09. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
* ^ A B
* ^ Wade, Nicholas (9 June 2010). "Studies Show Jews\' Genetic
Similarity". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
* ^ "High-resolution
Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and
Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial
overlap with haplotypes of Jews" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-15.
* ^ A B C Seldin MF, Shigeta R, Villoslada P, et al. (September
2006). "European population substructure: clustering of northern and
southern populations". PLoS Genet. 2 (9): e143. PMC 1564423 . PMID
17044734 . doi :10.1371/journal.pgen.0020143 .
* ^ Adams SM, Bosch E, Balaresque PL, et al. (December 2008). "The
genetic legacy of religious diversity and intolerance: paternal
lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula" .
American Journal of Human Genetics. 83 (6): 725–736. PMC 2668061
. PMID 19061982 . doi :10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007 .
* ^ A B C M. D. Costa and 16 others (2013). "A substantial
prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages".
Nature Communications. 4.
Bibcode :2013NatCo...4E2543C. PMC 3806353
. PMID 24104924 . doi :10.1038/ncomms3543 .
* ^ A B "Jewish Women\'s Genes Traced Mostly to Europe – Not
Israel – Study Hits Claim Ashkenazi
Jews Migrated From Holy Land".
The Jewish Daily Forward. 12 October 2013.
* ^ Shai Carmi; Ken Y. Hui; Ethan Kochav; Xinmin Liu; James Xue;
Fillan Grady; Saurav Guha; Kinnari Upadhyay; Dan Ben-Avraham; Semanti
Mukherjee; B. Monica Bowen; Tinu Thomas; Joseph Vijai; Marc Cruts; Guy
Froyen; Diether Lambrechts; Stéphane Plaisance; Christine Van
Broeckhoven; Philip Van Damme; Herwig Van Marck; et al. (September
2014). "Sequencing an Ashkenazi reference panel supports
population-targeted personal genomics and illuminates Jewish and
European origins". Nature Communications. 5: 4835. Bibcode
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:10.1038/ncomms5835 . Retrieved 16 September 2014.
* ^ Ashkenaz, based on Josephus : PACE: Antiquities of the Jews,
Perseus Project AJ1.6.1, . and his
explanation of Genesis 10:3, is considered to be the progenitor of the
ancient Gauls (the people of Gallia, meaning, the people from Austria
Belgium ), and the ancient
Franks (of, both,
Germany ). According to Gedaliah ibn Jechia the Spaniard, in the name
of Sefer Yuchasin (see: Gedaliah ibn Jechia, Shalshelet Ha-Kabbalah,
Jerusalem 1962, p. 219; p. 228 in PDF), the descendants of Ashkenaz
had also originally settled in what was then called
Bohemia , which
today is the present-day
Czech Republic . These places, according to
Talmud (Megillah 1:9 , were also called simply by the
diocese "Germamia". Germania, Germani, Germanica have all been used to
refer to the group of peoples comprising the German Tribes, which
include such peoples as Goths, whether Ostrogoths or Visigoths,
Vandals and Franks, Burgundians, Alans, Langobards, Angles, Saxons,
Jutes, Suebi and Alamanni. The entire region east of the Rhine River
was known by the Romans as "Germania" (Germany).
* ^ Mosk, Carl (2013). Nationalism and economic development in
modern Eurasia. New York: Routledge. p. 143. ISBN 9780415605182 . In
general the Ashkenazim originally came out of the Holy Roman Empire,
speaking a version of German that incorporates
Hebrew and Slavic
* ^ Henry L. Feingold (1995). Bearing Witness: How America and Its
Jews Responded to the Holocaust. Syracuse University Press. p. 36.
Eric Hobsbawm (2002). Interesting Times: A Twentieth Century
Life. Abacus Books. p. 25.
* ^ Glenda Abramson (ed.), Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture,
Routledge 2004 p. 20.
* ^ T. C. W. Blanning (ed.), The Oxford History of Modern Europe,
Oxford University Press, 2000 pp. 147–148
* ^ Ashkenazi (Encyclopædia Britannica)
* ^ A B ShUM cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz
* ^ Ben-Sasson, Haim Hillel, et al (2007). "Germany." Encyclopaedia
Judaica. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. p. 518-546;
here: p. 524.
* ^ Mosk (2013), p. 143. "Encouraged to move out of the Holy Roman
Empire as persecution of their communities intensified during the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Ashkenazi community increasingly
gravitated toward Poland."
* ^ Harshav, Benjamin (1999). The Meaning of Yiddish. Stanford:
Stanford University Press. p. 6. "From the fourteenth and certainly by
the sixteenth century, the center of European Jewry had shifted to
Poland, then ... comprising the Grand Duchy of
today's Byelorussia), Crown Poland, Galicia, the
stretching, at times, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, from the
approaches to Berlin to a short distance from Moscow."
* ^ Ben-Sasson, Haim Hillel, et al (2007). "Germany." Encyclopaedia
Judaica. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. p. 518-546;
here: p. 526-528. "The cultural and intellectual reorientation of the
Jewish minority was closely linked with its struggle for equal rights
and social acceptance. While earlier generations had used solely the
Hebrew languages among themselves, ... the use of Yiddish
was now gradually abandoned, and
Hebrew was by and large reduced to
liturgical usage" (p. 527).
* ^ Yaacov Ro'i, "Soviet Jewry from Identification to Identity", in
Eliezer Ben Rafael, Yosef Gorni, Yaacov Ro'i (eds.) Contemporary
Jewries: Convergence and Divergence, BRILL 2003 p. 186.
* ^ Dov Katz, "Languages of the Diaspora", in Mark Avrum Ehrlich
(ed.), Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and
Culture, Volume 1, ABC-CLIO 2008 pp. 193ff., p. 195.
* ^ "The Jewish Population of the World (2010)". Jewish Virtual
Library . , based on American Jewish Year Book. American Jewish
* ^ A B
Sergio DellaPergola (2008). ""
Sephardic and Oriental" Jews
Israel and Countries: Migration, Social Change, and
Identification". In Peter Y. Medding.
Sephardic Jewry and Mizrahi
Jews. X11. Oxford University Press. pp. 3–42. DellaPergola does not
analyze or mention the Ashkenazi statistics, but the figure is implied
by his rough estimate that in 2000, Oriental and
constituted 26% of the population of world Jewry.
* ^ A B Focus on Genetic Screening Research edited by Sandra R.
* ^ A B "Summary of Recent Genetic Studies". Science Magazine.
* ^ Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:
Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, T I. H. Levine,
eds. The World History of the Jewish People: The Dark Ages,
Christian Europe, 711–1096. 11. Jewish historical publications. pp.
302–303. Was the great Eastern European Jewry of the 19th century
preponderantly descended (as is normally believed) from immigrants
from the Germanic lands further west who arrived as refugees in the
later Middle Ages, bearing with them their culture? Or did these new
immigrants find already on their arrival a numerically strong Jewish
life, on whom they were able to impose their superior culture,
including even their tongue (a phenomenon not unknown at other times
and places – as for example in the 16th century, after the arrival
of the highly cultured Spanish exiles in the Turkish Empire)?) Does
the line of descent of Ashkenazi Jewry of today go back to a
quasi-autochthonous Jewry already established in these lands, perhaps
even earlier than the time of the earliest Franco-German settlement in
the Dark Ages? This is one of the mysteries of Jewish history, which
will probably never been solved.
* ^ Bernard Dov Weinryb (1972). The
Jews of Poland: A Social and
Economic History of the Jewish Community in
Poland from 1100–1800.
Jewish Publication Society. pp. 17–22.
* ^ Gregory Cochran, Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion:
How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, Basic Books, 2009 pp.
* ^ K. R. Stow, The
Jews in Rome: The Roman
Jew BRILL, 1995 pp.
* ^ A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World By
David Sacks P.126
* ^ Ancient Synagogues: Historical Analysis and Archaeological
Discovery edited by Dan Urman, Paul Virgil McCracken Flesher P:113
* ^ Jewish Virtual Library: Hellenism
* ^ A B András Mócsy,
Pannonia and Upper Moesia: A History of the
Middle Danube Provinces of the Roman Empire, (1974) Routledge 2014
* ^ Toch, Michael (2013). The Economic History of European Jews:
Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. Leiden: Brill . p. 156-157.
* ^ Sándor Scheiber, Jewish Inscriptions in Hungary: From the 3rd
Century to 1686, pp.14-30, p.14: "a relatively large number of Jews
Pannonia from the 3rd century ACE onwards."
* ^ Jits van Straten, The Origin of Ashkenazi Jewry: The
Controversy Unraveled, Walter de Gruyter, 2011 p. 60, citing Patai.
* ^ Toch (2013). p. 242.
* ^ Toch (2013), p. 67, p. 239.
* ^ Toch (2013), p. 68.
* ^ 'Some sources have been plainly misinterpreted, others point to
"virtual" Jews, yet others to single persons not resident in the
region. Thus Tyournai, Paris, Nantes, Tours, and Bourges, all
localities claimed to have housed communities, have no place in the
list of Jewish habitation in their period. In central
should be struck from the list, In Bordeaux it is doubtful as to the
presence of a community, and only Clermont is likely to have possessed
one. Further important places, like Macon, Chalon sur Saone, Vienne,
and Lyon, were to be inhabited by
Jews only from the Carolingian
period onwards. In the south we have a Jewish population in Auch,
possibly in Uzès, and in Arles, Narbonne and Marseilles. In the whole
France altogether, eight places stand scrutiny (including two
questionable ones), while eight other towns have been found to lack a
Jewish presence formerly claimed on insufficient evidence. Continuity
of settlement from Late Antiquity throughout the Early
Middle Ages is
evident only in the south, in Arles and Narbonne, possibly also in
Marseilles.... Between the mid-7th and the mid-8th century no sources
Jews in Frankish lands, except for an epitaph from Narbonne
and an inscription from Auch' Toch, The Economic History of European
Jews pp. 68–9
* ^ Shaye J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries,
Varieties, Uncertainties University of California Press 2001.
David Malkiel, Reconstructing Ashkenaz: The Human Face of
Franco-German Jewry, 1000–1250 Stanford University Press, 2008 pp.
* ^ Neil G. Jacobs, Yiddish: A Linguistic Introduction Cambridge
University Press, 2005 p. 55.
* ^ YIDDISH LANGUAGE
* ^ A B Nina Rowe, The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City:
Synagoga and Ecclesia in the 13th Century
Cambridge University Press,
2011 p. 30.
* ^ Guenter Stemberger, "The Formation of Rabbinic Judaism,
70–640 CE" in Neusner & Avery-Peck (eds.), The Blackwell Companion
to Judaism, Blackwell Publishing, 2000, p. 92.
* ^ Judaism: Ashkenazim
* ^ Ben-Sasson, Hayim (1976). A History of the Jewish People.
Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-39730-4 .
* ^ A B Schoenberg, Shira. "Ashkenazim". Jewish Virtual Library.
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* ^ Feldman, Louis H.
Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World :
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USA: Princeton University Press, 1996. p 43.
* ^ Commentary on Deuteronomy 3:9; idem on
Talmud tractate Sukkah
* ^ Talmud, Hullin 93a
* ^ ib. p. 129
* ^ Seder ha-Dorot, p. 252, 1878 ed.
* ^ Epstein, in "Monatsschrift," xlvii. 344; Jerusalem: Under the
Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid (Descriptive catalogue of the
Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London), vol.
1, Oxford Univ. Press: London 1932, Introduction p. xxxix
* ^ A B C D Elazar, Daniel J. "Can
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs . Retrieved 24
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An Nal Book, New York. Library of Congress number 77-96925. p. 44
* ^ Breuer, Edward. "Post-medieval Jewish Interpretation." The
Jewish Study Bible. Ed.
Adele Berlin and
Marc Zvi Brettler . New York:
Oxford University Press, 2004. 1900.
* ^ Breuer, 1901
* ^ "Jews", William Bridgwater, ed. The Columbia-Viking Desk
Encyclopedia; second ed., New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1964; p. 906.
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* ^ Solomo Birnbaum , Grammatik der jiddischen Sprache (4., erg.
Aufl., Hamburg: Buske, 1984), p. 3.
* ^ Gershon Shafir, Yoav Peled, Being Israeli: The Dynamics of
Cambridge University Press 2002 p. 324 'The
Zionist movement was a European movement in its goals and orientation
and its target population was Ashkenazi
Jews who constituted, in 1895,
90 percent of the 10.5 million
Jews then living in the world (Smooha
* ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 'Today Ashkenazim constitute more
than 80 percent of all the
Jews in the world, vastly outnumbering
* ^ Asher Arian (1981) in Itamar Rabinovich, Jehuda Reinharz,
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University Press 2008 p. 324 "About 85 percent of the world's
David Whitten Smith, Elizabeth Geraldine Burr, Understanding
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Littlefield, 2007 p. 72 'Before the German Holocaust, about 90% of
Jews worldwide were Ashkenazim. Since the Holocaust, the percentage
has dropped to about 83%.'
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* ^ As of 2013 , every President of
Israel since the country's
foundation in 1948 has been an Ashkenazi Jew
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Shlomo Archived 9 November 2013 at the
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Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 November 2007. Retrieved 23
December 2007. From 1870 to 1950, Jewish representation in literature
was four times the number one would expect. In music, five times. In
the visual arts, five times. In biology, eight times. In chemistry,
six times. In physics, nine times. In mathematics, twelve times. In
philosophy, fourteen times.
* ^ "JEWISH NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS". Jinfo.org. Retrieved 16 March
2016. At least 194
Jews and people of half- or three-quarters-Jewish
ancestry have been awarded the Nobel Prize, accounting for 22% of all
individual recipients worldwide between 1901 and 2015, and
constituting 36% of all US recipients during the same period. In the
scientific research fields of Chemistry, Economics, Physics, and
Physiology/Medicine, the corresponding world and US percentages are
26% and 38%, respectively. Among women laureates in the four research
fields, the Jewish percentages (world and US) are 33% and 50%,
respectively. Of organizations awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 22% were
founded principally by
Jews or by people of half-Jewish descent. Since
the turn of the century (i.e., since the year 2000),
Jews have been
awarded 25% of all Nobel Prizes and 28% of those in the scientific
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Groups and Genes". The New Republic. Archived from the original on 5
January 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2007. Though never exceeding 3
percent of the American population,
Jews account for 37 percent of the
winners of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 25 percent of the
American Nobel Prize winners in literature, 40 percent of the American
Nobel Prize winners in science and economics, and so on.
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