Ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant
Top 10 Jews related articles
- 1 Name and etymology
- 2 Who is a Jew?
- 3 Origins
- 4 History
- 5 Culture
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Contributions
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The Star of David which is a common symbol of the Jewish people.
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Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation [jehuˈdim]) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, although its observance varies from strict to none.
Jews originated as an ethnic and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE, in the part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel. The Merneptah Stele appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel somewhere in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE (Late Bronze Age). The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population, consolidated their hold with the emergence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Some consider that these Canaanite sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as 'Hebrews'. Though few sources mention the exilic periods in detail, the experience of diaspora life, from the Babylonian captivity and exile to the Roman occupation and exile, and the historical relations between Jews and their homeland thereafter, became a major feature of Jewish history, identity and memory.
In the millennia following, Jewish diaspora communities coalesced into three, major ethnic subdivisions according to where their ancestors settled: Ashkenazim (Central and Eastern Europe), Sephardim (initially in the Iberian Peninsula), and Mizrahim (Middle East and North Africa). Prior to World War II, the worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million, representing around 0.7 percent of the world population at that time. Approximately 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Since then the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2018[update] was estimated at 14.6–17.8 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank, less than 0.2 percent of the total world population.[note 1]
The modern State of Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population. It defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state in the Basic Laws, Human Dignity and Liberty in particular, which is based on the Declaration of Independence. Israel's Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to Jews who have expressed their desire to settle in Israel.
Despite their small percentage of the world's population, Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, both historically and in modern times, including philosophy, ethics, literature, politics, business, fine arts and architecture, music, theatre and cinema, medicine, and science and technology, as well as religion; Jews authored the Bible, founded Early Christianity and had a profound influence on Islam. Jews have also played a significant role in the development of Western Civilization.