“The worldwide Jewish population is 13.3 million Jews (LeElef, 2012).” “The population of American adherents of Judaism was estimated to be approximately 5,128,000 or 1.7%  of the total population in 2007 (301, 621, 0000;  including those who identify themselves culturally as Jewish (but not necessarily religiously), this population was estimated at 6, 489,000 (2.2%) as of 2008  (Wikipedia.org, 2012).”
“Jews represent a group of people rather than a distinct race or ethnicity. Although Jews originally came from the Middle East, many races and people have mixed together in Jewish communities over the centuries, especially after the Jews were forced out of Palestine in the second century C.E. What binds the group together is a common Jewish heritage as passed down from generation to generation. For many Jews, the binding force of Judaism, a term usually referring to the Jewish religion but sometimes used to refer to all Jews. There are, however, Jewish atheists, and agnostics, and one does not have to be religious to be Jewish. In general, one is Jewish if born of a Jewish mother or if he or she converts to Judaism (Kamp, 2012).”
” For centuries Jewish culture thrived in Palestine until the Roman occupation beginning in 63 B.C.E For more than 100 years Jews endured life with the oppressive, violent Romans. By 70 C.E., when the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, Jews had begun migrating to the outer regions of the Roman Empire, including the Near East, North Africa, and southwestern, central, and eastern Europe. In 135 C.E. the Romans officially banned Judaism, which marked the beginning of the Diaspora, or dispersal of Jews. Forced out of Palestine, Jews in exile concentrated less on establishing a unified homeland and more on maintaining Judaism through biblical scholarship and community life (Kamp, 2012).”
“The first Jewish immigrants to settle in the United States were 23 Sephardic Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam (later known as New York) in 1654 ( Kamp, 2012).” “The largest wave of Jewish immigrants was eastern Europeans Jews who came to America between 1881 and 1924. During these years one third of the Jewish population in eastern Europe emigrated because of changing political and economic conditions (Kamp, 2012).”
“In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of Jews arrived in America annually. The immigration of some 2.4 million eastern European Jews boosted the American Jewish population from roughly a quarter million in 1881 to 4.5million by 1924 (Kamp, 2012).”
The most recent Jewish immigrants to come to America were in the 1980’s during the political turmoil of the Soviet Union. Since then the Jewish population has decreased. “Limits on immigration and a Jewish birth rate of less than two children per family- lower than the national average-have lowered the Jewish proportion of the American population to under three percent. This proportion has remained relatively stable, even as the American Jewish population approached six million in the 1990’s (Kamp, 2012).”
“Jewish Americans found it rather easy to assimilate to American society and really wanted to establish themselves. During the late nineteenth century Jewish people would “combat anti-Semitism and negative stereotypes of “dirty Jew”, but for the most part Americans appreciate the goods and services provided by Jewish merchants. The religious freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution coupled with the increasing prosperity of nineteenth-century German Jews enabled Jews to enjoy considerable acceptance in American society (Kamp, 2012).”
In terms of Jewish customs and traditions Jewish families have passed on their beliefs and practices on through the home and through religious schools that teach traditions. Jewish schools have been influential in keeping traditional beliefs and customs central to Jewish families while allowing Jewish children to integrate into mainstream American culture.
The most important Jewish traditions stem from the mitzvot, which are the 613 holy obligations found in the Torah and Talmud, consisting of 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments (Kamp, 2012).” “The basic beliefs common to all Jews, except atheists and agnostics, were articulated by Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) (Kamp, 2012).” The Thirteen Principle of faith are the common beliefs and most Jews are faithful to them and share these beliefs.
Other traditions and beliefs are structured around food and holidays in the Jewish tradition. There is no specific Jewish food however the preparation and food laws are practiced by many Jews.
. “Kashrut is a system of food laws for eating kosher food and avoiding trefa foods. Kosher foods are simply ones that are, by law, fit for Jews; and include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats from cud-chewing mammals with split hooves, fish with scales and fins, domesticated birds, and milk and eggs from kosher mammals and birds. Kashrut also involves keeping milk and meat separate because of the Biblical commandment not to stew a kid in its mother’s milk, Jewish law has interpreted this to mean that meat and dairy products cannot be prepared together. Trefa foods are forbidden by Jewish law, simply because of biblical decree (Kamp, 2012).”
Some of the holidays that are important to the Jewish culture are as followed. “Rosh Hashanah, which occurs sometime in September or October, is a ten day period in which Jews reflect on their lives during the previous year (Kamp, 2012).” “Yom Kippur is a holiday at the end of Rosh Hashanah that is the “Day of Atonement” (Kamp, 2012).” “Hanukkah is a festival in December that is 8 days long and has become a time of family celebration with games and presents for children (Kamp, 2012).”
One way that many Jewish families stay connected is through the practice of keeping of Sabbath. “Observing Shabat, or day of delight, is one of the Ten Commandments and is essentially a matter of taking a break from work to devote on day of the week to rest, contemplation, and family and community togetherness. Just prior to Sabbath, which last from sunset on Friday to late Saturday night, the family must complete al the preparations for the day because no work is to be done once the Sabbath begins, traditionally, the mother starts the Sabbath by lighting candles and saying a special prayer. Afterwards, the family attends a short service at the synagogue, then returns home for a meal and conversation and singing. The following morning the community gathers at the synagogue for the most important religious service of the week. On Saturday afternoon observant Jews will continue to refrain from work and either make social visits or spend time in quiet reflection. A ceremony called havdalah takes place on Saturday night, marking the end of Sabbath and the beginning of the new week (Kamp, 2012).”
“Recently the National Foundation for Jewish Genetic Diseases published a list of the seven most common genetic diseases suffered by Jews: Blood Syndrome: causing shortness of height, redness in skin, and high susceptibility of respiratory tract and ear infections. Affected men have infertility and both sexes have a higher risk of cancer. Familial Dysautonomia: congenital disease affecting the nervous system. Gaucher Disease: characterized by easy bruising, orthopedic problems, and anemia. Niemann-Pick Disease: Fatal disease that characterized by the build up of fatty material in the central nervous system. Torsion Dystonis: a disease causing loss of motor control couple with normal to superior intelligence affecting children between the ages of 4-16 (Kamp, 2012).”
“Economically Jews have always had a high level of economic earning and used their business sense and work ethic to prosper in the American economical society. Many Jewish people have profited from jobs and businesses in “investment banking, the garment industry, shoe manufacturing, and the meat processing industry (Kamp, 2012).”
“With unprecedented access to education and advancement in American society, younger Jews entered college and embarked upon successful professional careers at about twice the rate of preceding generations. Rather than gravitating towards the clothing industry, as many of their parents and grandparents had done, postwar Jews turned to a range of fields, including management, communications, real estate, entertainment, and academia (Kamp, 2012).”
“Since the first Jews arrived in Colonial America, Jews have enjoyed a high degree of political freedom and have taken an active role in politics and government (Kamp, 2012).” When the First Amendment was passed in 1789, guaranteeing religious freedom Jews became more involved in politics. It is known that the majority of Jews are part of the Democratic Party a large number of Jews have begun to favor pragmatism and conservatism. As of now the only political office not held by a Jew is that of American President.
I Media: Commentary, An organ of the American Jewish Committee Jewish magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org Jewish Press, National weekly newspaper covering issues and events of Jewish life. email@example.com Radio: KCSN-FM (88.5) www.kcns.org WMUA-FM (91.1) firstname.lastname@example.org Television: Israel Broadcasting Authority- Washington D. C Israel Broadcasting Authority Radio and Television- New York City Organizations: American Jewish Committee (AJC) www.ajc.org 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM-YWHA) www.92ndsty.org Museums and Research Centers American Jewish Historical Society email@example.com U.S. Holocaust Museum www.ushmm.org The Jewish Museum www.jewishmuseum.org Leo Baeck Institute www.users.interporl.net/~lbi1 Bibliography Kamp, J. (2012). Jewish Americans. Retrieved from www.everydaycultur.com/multi/Ha-La/Jewish- Americans.html LeElef, N. (2012). World Jewish Population. Retrieved from www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world- jewish-population.html Wikipedia. (2012). American Jews. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Jews
Kamp, J. (2012). Jewish Americans. Retrieved from www.everydaycultur.com/multi/Ha- La/Jewish-Americans.html LeElef, N. (2012). World Jewish Population. Retrieved from www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world- jewish-population.html Wikipedia. (2012). American Jews. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Jews