Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים, ISO 259-2: Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation: [jehuˈdim]) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group[10] and nation[11][12] originating from the Israelites[13][14][15] and Hebrews[16][17] of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated,[18][19] as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, although its observance varies from strict to none.[20][21]

יְהוּדִים (Yehudim)
The Star of David, a common symbol of the Jewish people
Total population
14.6–17.8 million

Enlarged population (includes full or partial Jewish ancestry):
20.7 million[1]

(2022, est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Israel (incl. occupied territories)6,558,000–6,958,000[1]
 United States5,700,000–10,000,000[1]
 United Kingdom290,000–370,000[1]
 South Africa69,000–80,000[1]
  • Predominantly spoken:[2]
  • Historical:
  • Sacred:
Related ethnic groups

Jews originated as an ethnic and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE,[9] in a part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel.[22] The Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel somewhere in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE (Late Bronze Age).[23][24] The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population,[25] consolidated their hold in the region with the emergence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Some consider that these Canaan-sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as the "Hebrews".[26] The experience of life in the Jewish diaspora, from the Babylonian captivity and exile (though few sources mention this period in detail[27]) to the Roman occupation and exile, and the historical relations between Jews and their homeland in the Levant thereafter became a major feature of Jewish history, identity, culture, and memory.[28]

In the following millennia, Jewish diaspora communities coalesced into three major ethnic subdivisions according to where their ancestors settled: the Ashkenazim (Central and Eastern Europe), the Sephardim (initially in the Iberian Peninsula), and the Mizrahim (Middle East and North Africa).[29][30] Prior to World War II, the global Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million,[31] representing around 0.7 percent of the world population at that time. During World War II, approximately 6 million Jews throughout Europe were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.[32][33] Since then, the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2018, was estimated to be at 14.6–17.8 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank,[1] comprising less than 0.2 percent of the total world population.[34][note 1] The modern State of Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population.

Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, both historically and in modern times, including in science and technology,[36] philosophy,[37] ethics,[38] literature,[36] politics,[36] business,[36] art, music, comedy, theatre,[39] cinema, architecture,[36] food, medicine,[40][41] and religion. Jews wrote the Bible,[42][43] founded Christianity,[44] and had an indirect but profound influence on Islam.[45] In these ways, Jews have also played a significant role in the development of Western culture.[46][47]

Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Jews, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.