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The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism

A Jew is a person who is of Jewish heritage or who has converted to the Jewish religion. Jews typically consider themselves as a people, and not only as adherents of a religion, therefore a Jew is not only one that practices the religion of Judaism, but it is also one who is of Jewish heritage. According to traditional Jewish law, the Halakha, someone is Jewish if their mother was a Jew or if they have converted to Judaism.[1] Judaism has been described as a religion, a race, a culture, a nation, and an extended family.[2] Israel is the only Jewish country, but there are Jewish minorities in many places in the world. Most of them live in large cities in the United States, Argentina, Europe and Australia. Both Israel and the U.S. have over five million Jews.[3] In the Soviet Union there were more than two million Jews, but many of them moved to Israel, the U.S. and other Western countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Jews have been victims of various persecutions. One of the most well known happened during the Second World War, when almost six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. It is known as the Holocaust.

Jewish ethnic groups

There are Jewish ethnic groups. The two biggest are called Ashkenazi (originally from Central and Eastern Europe) and Sephardic (originally from the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Spain and Portugal). In Israel, those from Arab and Muslim countries are called Mizrahi Jews. There are also African Jews (Beta Israel), Indian Jews (Bene Israel) and some Chinese Jews (Kai-feng Jews). Many of these groups have moved from one place to another. For example, many Ashkenazi Jews live in the United States, and many Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews live in France.[4]

Jews speak the languages of the countries where they live. Hebrew is the language of Judaism because it is the language in which the Bible was written. It is still used for prayers. In Israel, Ivrit, which is the name for the new Hebrew language, is the common language. There are also old Jewish languages such as Yiddish and Ladino which are still spoken and written by some Jews.

Famous Jews

Albert Einstein, who came up with the equation E=mc2, had Jewish heritage.
See also: Category:Jewish people

Many Jewish people have done great things in science, literature, business, and the arts. Some of the most famous include:


  1. Dosick, Wayne (2007). Living Judaism. New York: HarperCollins. p. 56-57. ISBN 0-06-062179-6 .
  2. "Judaism 101: What is Judaism?" (in Standard English). Judaism 101. Retrieved 18 December 2014. "• Judaism has been described as a religion, a race, a culture, and a nation • All of these descriptions have some validity • The Jewish people are best described as an extended family"
  3. Annual Assessment (PDF), Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (Jewish Agency for Israel), 2007, p. 15<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, based on American Jewish Year Book. 106. American Jewish Committee. 2006.
  4. Schmelz, Usiel Oscar; Sergio DellaPergola (2007). "Demography". Encyclopaedia Judaica (2d ed.) 5. Ed. Fred Skolnik. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 571–572.