29 Facts About Ashkenazi Jews


Rabbinical term Ashkenazi refers to diaspora Jews who established communities along the Rhine in western Germany and northern France during the Middle Ages.

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However, the Ashkenazi Jews population was decimated shortly after as a result of the Holocaust that was carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II, which affected almost every Jewish European family.

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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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Many Ashkenazi Jews were denied full Roman citizenship until Emperor Caracalla granted all free peoples this privilege in 212 CE.

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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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Many of the surviving Ashkenazi Jews emigrated to countries such as Israel, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the United States after the war.

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In Israel, the term Ashkenazi is 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.

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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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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.

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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 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 and modern Levantines .

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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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