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29 Facts About Ashkenazi Jews
Genetic studies on Ashkenazi Jews—researching both their paternal and maternal lineages as well as autosomal DNA—indicate that they are of mixed Levantine and European ancestry.
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Name Ashkenazi Jews 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 .
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The idea of ancient Ashkenazi Jews trying to convert Gentiles to Judaism isadays rejected by several scholars.
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Typically, Ashkenazi 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.
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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 Ashkenazi Jews, preventing certain financial activities 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.
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Furthermore, Ashkenazi Jews lived almost exclusively in shtetls, 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.
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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 .
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Genetic evidence 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.
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Material relating to the history of German Ashkenazi 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.
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Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakhic matters.
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Religious Ashkenazi Jews have minhagim, customs, in addition to halakha, or religious law, and different interpretations of the law.
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On certain issues, Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing.
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The desire to maintain pre-Holocaust traditions relating to Ashkenazi culture has often been met with criticism by Jews in Eastern Europe.
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Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of region.
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Two other major forms of nusach among Ashkenazic Jews are Nusach Sefard, which is the general Polish Hasidic nusach, and Nusach Ari, as used by Lubavitch Hasidim.
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In some instances, Ashkenazi Jews communities have accepted significant numbers of Sephardi newcomers, sometimes resulting in intermarriage and the possible merging between the two communities.
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Achievements of so many Ashkenazi Jews, have led some to the view that Ashkenazi Jews have higher than average intelligence.
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Collectively, Ashkenazi Jews are less genetically diverse than other Jewish ethnic divisions, due to their genetic bottleneck.
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The majority of genetic findings to date concerning Ashkenazi Jews conclude that the male lines were founded by ancestors from the Middle East.
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The study found that contemporary Ashkenazi Jews have a close genetic relationship with people from the Levant.
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The greatest affinity and shared ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews were found to be with both southern Europeans and Levantines such as Druze, Cypriot, Lebanese and Samaritan groups.
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People of Ashkenazi Jews descent are at much higher risk of being a carrier for Tay-Sachs disease, which is fatal in its homozygous form.
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