Jew

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The Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים‎, Yehudim), also known as the Jewish people, are an ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation.[5][6][7] Converts to Judaism, whose status as Jews within the Jewish ethnos is equal to those born into it, have been absorbed into the Jewish people throughout the millennia.

In Jewish tradition, Jewish ancestry is traced to the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the second millennium BCE. The Jews have enjoyed three periods of political autonomy in their national homeland, the Land of Israel, twice during ancient history, and currently once again, since 1948, with the establishment of the modern State of Israel. The first of the two ancient eras spanned from 1350 to 586 BCE, and encompassed the periods of the Judges, the United Monarchy, and the Divided Monarchy of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, ending with the destruction of the First Temple. The second era was the period of the Hasmonean Kingdom spanning from 140 to 37 BCE. Since the destruction of the First Temple, the diaspora has been the home of most of the world's Jews.[8] Except in the modern State of Israel, Jews are a minority in every country in which they live, and they have frequently experienced persecution throughout history, resulting in a population that fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries.

According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, as of 2007 there were 13.2 million Jews worldwide, 5.4 million of whom lived in Israel, 5.3 million in the United States, and the remainder distributed in communities of varying sizes around the world; this represents 0.2% of the current estimated world population.[1] (Other sources cite higher estimates. For example, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics estimates the number of Israeli Jews to be 5.6 million and the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the American Jewish population to be as many as 6.4 million.[2][3]) These numbers include all those who consider themselves Jews whether or not affiliated with a Jewish organization.[9] The total world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to halakhic considerations, there are secular, political, and ancestral identification factors in defining who is a Jew that increase the figure considerably.[9]


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