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The Jews in Central Europe (1881)
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim (Hebrew: אַשְׁכֲּנָזִים, pronounced [ˌaʃkəˈnazim], singular: [ˌaʃkəˈnazi]; also יְהוּדֵי אַשְׁכֲּנָז, Yehudei Ashkenaz, "the Jews of Ashkenaz"), are theJews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany. Thus, Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi Jews are literally "German Jews." Later, Jews from Western and Central Europe came to be called "Ashkenaz" because the main centers of Jewish learning were located in Germany. (See Usage of the name for the term’s etymology.) Ashkenaz is also a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10).
Many Ashkenazi Jews later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in non German-speaking areas, including Hungary, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere between the 11th and 19th centuries. With them, they took and diversified Yiddish, a basically Germanic language with Hebrew influence (see Jewish language). It had developed in medieval times as the lingua franca among Ashkenazi Jews. The Jewish communities of three cities along the Rhine: Speyer, Worms and Mainz, created the SHUM league (SHUM after the first Hebrew letters of Spira, Warmatia and Magentza). The ShUM-cities are considered the cradle of the distinct Ashkenazi culture and liturgy.
Although in the 11th century, they comprised only 3 percent of the world’s Jewish population, at their peak in 1931, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for 92 percent of the world’s Jews. Today they make up approximately 80 percent of Jews worldwide. Most Jewish communities with extended histories in Europe are Ashkenazim, with the exception of those associated with the Mediterranean region. The majority of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Ashkenazim, Eastern Ashkenazim in particular. This is especially true in the United States, where most of the 5.3 millionAmerican Jewish population is Ashkenazi, representing the world’s single largest concentration of Ashkenazim.
The exact definition of Jewishness is not universally agreed upon—neither by religious scholars (especially across different denominations); nor in the context of politics (as applied to those who wish to makeAliyah); nor even in the conventional, everyday sense where ‘Jewishness’ may be loosely understood by the casual observer as encompassing both religious and secular Jews, or religious Jews alone. This makes it especially difficult to define who is an Ashkenazi Jew. The people have been defined differently from religious, cultural, or ethnic perspectives.
Since the overwhelming majority of Ashkenazi Jews no longer live in Eastern Europe, the isolation that once favored a distinct religious tradition and culture has vanished. Furthermore, the word Ashkenazi is being used in non-traditional ways, especially in Israel. By conservative and orthodox philosophies, a person can only be considered a Jew if his or her mother was Jewish (meaning, more specifically, either matrilineal descent from a female believed to be present at Mt. Sinai when the ten commandments were given, or else descent from a female who was converted to Judaism before the birth of her children), or if he or she has personally converted to Judaism. This means that a person can be Ashkenazi but not considered a Jew by some of those within the Jewish communities, making the term "Ashkenazi" more applicable as broad ethnicity which evolved from the practice of Judaism in Europe.
Religious Jews have Minhagim, customs, in addition to Halakha, or religious law, and different interpretations of law. Different groups of religious Jews in different geographic areas historically adopted different customs and interpretations. On certain issues, Orthodox Jews are required to follow the customs of their ancestors, and do not believe they have the option of picking and choosing. Therefore, observant Jews at times find it important for religious reasons to ascertain who their household’s religious ancestors are in order to know what customs their household should follow. These times include, for example, when two Jews of different ethnic background marry, when a non-Jew converts to Judaism and determines what customs to follow for the first time, or when a lapsed or less observant Jew returns to traditional Judaism and must determine what was done in his or her family’s past. In this sense, "Ashkenazic" refers both to a family ancestry and to a body of customs binding on Jews of that ancestry.
In a religious sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is any Jew whose family tradition and ritual follows Ashkenazi practice. Until the Ashkenazi community first began to develop in the Early Middle Ages, the centers of Jewish religious authority were in the Islamic world, at Baghdad and in Islamic Spain. Ashkenaz (Germany) was so distant geographically that it developed a minhag of its own. Ashkenazi Hebrew came to be pronounced in ways distinct from other forms of Hebrew.
In this respect, the counterpart of Ashkenazi is Sephardic, since most non-Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews follow Sephardic rabbinical authorities, whether or not they are ethnically Sephardic. By tradition, a Sephardic or Mizrahi woman who marries into anOrthodox or Haredi Ashkenazi Jewish family raises her children to be Ashkenazi Jews; conversely an Ashkenazi woman who marries a Sephardi or Mizrahi man is expected to take on Sephardic practice and the children inherit a Sephardic identity, though in practice many families compromise. A convert generally follows the practice of the beth din that converted him or her.
With the integration of Jews from around the world in Israel, North America, and other places, the religious definition of an Ashkenazi Jew is blurring, especially outside Orthodox Judaism. Many Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews have joined liberal movements that originally developed within Ashkenazi Judaism. In recent decades, the congregations which they have joined have often embraced them, and absorbed new traditions into their minhag. Rabbis and cantors in most non-Orthodox movements study Hebrew inIsrael, where they learn Sephardic rather than Ashkenazi Hebrew pronunciation. Ashkenazi congregations are adopting Sephardic or modern Israeli melodies for many prayers and traditional songs. Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been a gradual syncretism and fusion of traditions. This is affecting the minhag of all but the most traditional congregations.
New developments in Judaism often transcend differences in religious practice between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. In North American cities, social trends such as the chavurah movement, and the emergence of "post-denominational Judaism" often bring together younger Jews of diverse ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, there has been increased interest in Kabbalah, which many Ashkenazi Jews study outside of the Yeshiva framework. Another trend is the new popularity of ecstatic worship in theJewish Renewal movement and the Carlebach style minyan, both of which are nominally of Ashkenazi origin.
In a cultural sense, an Ashkenazi Jew can be identified by the concept of Yiddishkeit, a word that literally means “Jewishness” in the Yiddish language. Of course, there are other kinds of Jewishness. Yiddishkeit is simply the Jewishness of Ashkenazi Jews.
Before the Haskalah and the emancipation of Jews in Europe, this meant the study of Torah and Talmud for men, and a family and communal life governed by the observance of Jewish Law for men and women. From the Rhineland to Riga to Romania, most Jews prayed in liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew, and spoke Yiddish in their secular lives.
But with modernization, Yiddishkeit now encompasses not just Orthodoxy and Hasidism, but a broad range of movements, ideologies, practices, and traditions in which Ashkenazi Jews have participated and somehow retained a sense of Jewishness. Although a far smaller number of Jews still speak Yiddish, Yiddishkeit can be identified in manners of speech, in styles of humor, in patterns of association. Broadly speaking, a Jew is one who associates culturally with Jews, supports Jewish institutions, reads Jewish books and periodicals, attends Jewish movies and theater, travels to Israel, visits ancient synagogues in Prague, and so forth. It is a definition that applies to Jewish culture in general, and to Ashkenazi Yiddishkeit in particular.
Contemporary population migrations have contributed to a reconfigured Jewishness among Jews of Ashkenazi descent that transcends Yiddishkeit and other traditional articulations of Ashkenazi Jewishness. As Ashkenazi Jews moved away from Eastern Europe, settling mostly in Israel, North America, and other English-speaking areas, the geographic isolation which gave rise to Ashkenazim has given way to mixing with other cultures, and with non-Ashkenazi Jews who, similarly, are no longer isolated in distinct geographic locales. For Ashkenazi Jews living in Eastern Europe, chopped liver and gefilte fish were archetypal Jewish foods. To contemporary Ashkenazi Jews living both in Israel and in the diaspora, Middle Eastern foods such as hummus andfalafel, neither traditional to the historic Ashkenazi experience, have become central to their lives as Ashkenazi Jews in the current era. Hebrew has replaced Yiddish as the primary Jewish language for many Ashkenazi Jews, although many Hasidic andHareidi groups continue to use Yiddish in daily life.
France’s blended Jewish community is typical of the cultural recombination that is going on among Jews throughout the world. Although France expelled its original Jewish population in the Middle Ages, by the time of the French Revolution, there were two distinct Jewish populations. One consisted of Sephardic Jews, originally refugees from the Inquisition and concentrated in the southwest, while the other community was Ashkenazi, concentrated in formerly German Alsace, and speaking mainly Yiddish. The two communities were so separate and different that the National Assembly emancipated them separately in 1791.
But after emancipation, a sense of a unified French Jewry emerged, especially when France was wracked by the Dreyfuss affair in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe arrived in large numbers as refugees fromantisemitism, the Russian revolution, and the economic turmoil of the Great Depression. By the 1930s, Paris had a vibrant Yiddish culture, and many Jews were involved in radical political movements. After the Vichy years and the Holocaust, the French Jewish population was augmented once again, first by refugees from Eastern Europe, and later by immigrants and refugees from North Africa, many of them francophone.
Then, in the 1990s, yet another Ashkenazi Jewish wave began to arrive from countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The result is a pluralistic Jewish community that still has some distinct elements of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic culture. But in France, it is becoming much more difficult to sort out the two, and a distinctly French Jewishness has emerged.
In an ethnic sense, an Ashkenazi Jew is one whose ancestry can be traced to the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. For roughly a thousand years, the Ashkenazim were a reproductively isolated population in Europe, despite living in many countries, with little inflow or outflow from migration, conversion, or intermarriage with other groups, including other Jews. Human geneticists have identified genetic variations that have high frequencies among Ashkenazi Jews, but not in the general European population. This is true for patrilineal markers (Y-chromosome haplotypes) as well as for matrilineal markers (mitochondrial haplotypes).
Since the middle of the 20th century, many Ashkenazi Jews have intermarried, both with members of other Jewish communities and with people of other nations and faiths, while some Jews have also adopted children from other ethnic groups or parts of the world and raised them as Jews. Conversion to Judaism, rare for nearly 2,000 years, has become more common. Jewish women and families who choose artificial insemination often choose a biological father who is not Jewish, to avoid common autosomal recessive genetic diseases.
A study by Michael Seldin, a geneticist at the University of California Davis School of Medicine, found Ashkenazi Jews to be a clear, relatively homogenous genetic subgroup. Strikingly, regardless of the place of origin, Ashkenazi Jews can be grouped in the same genetic cohort — that is, regardless of whether an Ashkenazi Jew’s ancestors came from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Lithuania, or any other place with a historical Jewish population, they belong to the same ethnic group. The research demonstrates the endogamy of the Jewish population in Europe and lends further credence to the idea of Ashkenazi Jews as an ethnic group. Moreover, though intermarriage among Jews of Ashkenazi descent has become increasingly more common, many Ultra-Orthodox Jews, particularly members Hasidic or Hareidi sects, continue to marry exclusively fellow Ashkenazi Jews. This trend keeps Ashkenazi genes prevalent and also helps researchers further study the genes of Ashkenazi Jews with relative ease. It is noteworthy that these Ultra-Orthodox Jews often have extremely large families.
Realignment in Israel
In Israel, the term Ashkenazi is now used in ways that have nothing to do with its original meaning; it is often applied to all Jews of European background living in Israel, including sometimes for those whose ethnic background is actually Sephardic. Jews of any non-Ashkenazi background, including Mizrahi, Yemenite, Kurdish and others who have no connection with the Iberian Peninsula, have similarly come to be lumped together as Sephardic. Jews of mixed background are increasingly common, partly because of intermarriage between Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi, and partly because many do not see such historic markers as relevant to their life experiences as Jews.
Religious Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel are obliged to follow the authority of the chief Ashkenazi rabbi in halakhic matters. In this respect, a religiously Ashkenazi Jew is an Israeli who is more likely to support certain religious interests in Israel, including certain political parties. These political parties result from the fact that a portion of the Israeli electorate votes for Jewish religious parties; although the electoral map changes from one election to another, there are generally several small parties associated with the interests of religious Ashkenazi Jews. The role of religious parties, including small religious parties which play important roles as coalition members, results in turn from Israel’s composition as a complex society in which competing social, economic, and religious interests stand for election to the Knesset, a unicameral legislature with 120 seats.
Although the historical record is very limited, there is a scholarly consensus of cultural, linguistic, and genetic evidence that the Ashkenazi Jewish population originated in the Middle East. Jews have lived in Germany, or "Ashkenaz", at least since the early 4th century. They brought with them both Rabbinic Judaism and the Babylonian Talmudic culture that underlies it. Yiddish, once spoken by the vast majority of Ashkenazi Jewry, is a Germanic language that developed from the Middle High German vernacular, heavily influenced by Hebrew and Aramaic.
Background in the Roman Empire
After the Roman empire had overpowered the Jewish resistance in the First Jewish–Roman War in Judea and destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the complete Roman takeover of Judea followed the Bar Kochba rebellion of 132-135 CE. Though their numbers were greatly reduced, Jews continued populate large parts of Iuadea province (renamed to Palaestina), remaining a majority in Galilee for several hundred years. However, the Romans no longer recognized the authority of theSanhedrin or any other Jewish body, and Jews were prohibited from living in Jerusalem. Outside the Roman Empire, a large Jewish community remained in Mesopotamia. Other Jewish populations could be found dispersed around the Mediterranean region, with the largest concentrations in the Levant, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, including Rome. Smaller communities are recorded in southern Gaul (France), Spain, and North Africa.
Jews were denied full Roman citizenship until 212 CE, when Emperor Caracalla granted all free peoples this privilege. But, as a penalty for the first Jewish Revolt, Jews were required to pay a poll tax until the reign of Emperor Julian in 363. In the late Roman Empire, Jews were free to form networks of cultural and religious ties and enter into various local occupations. But, after Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople in 380, Jews were increasingly marginalized, and brutally persecuted.
In Syria-Palaestina and Mesopotamia, where Jewish religious scholarship was centered, the majority of Jews were still engaged in farming, as demonstrated by the preoccupation of early Talmudic writings with agriculture. In diaspora communities, trade was a common occupation, facilitated by the easy mobility of traders through the dispersed Jewish communities.
Throughout this period and into the early Middle Ages, some Jews assimilated into the dominant Greek and Latin cultures, mostly through conversion to Christianity. In Syria-Palaestina and Mesopotamia, the spoken language of Jews continued to beAramaic, but elsewhere in the diaspora, most Jews spoke Greek. Conversion and assimilation were especially common within the Hellenized or Greek-speaking Jewish communities, amongst whom the Septuagint and Aquila of Sinope (Greek translations and adaptations of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible) were the source of scripture. A remnant of this Greek-speaking Jewish population (the Romaniotes) survives to this day.
The Germanic invasions of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century by tribes such as the Visigoths, Franks, Lombards, and Vandals caused massive economic and social instability within the western Empire, contributing to its decline. In the late Roman Empire, Jews are known to have lived in Cologne and Trier, as well as in what is now France. However, it is unclear whether there is any continuity between these late Roman communities and the distinct Ashkenazi Jewish culture that began to emerge about 500 years later. King Dagobert I of the Franks expelled the Jews from his Merovingian kingdom in 629. Jews in former Roman territories now faced new challenges as harsher anti-Jewish Church rulings were enforced.
Rabbinic Judaism moves to Ashkenaz
In Mesopotamia, and in Persian lands free of Roman imperial domination, Jewish life fared much better. Since the conquest of Judea by Nebuchadnezzar II, this community had always been the leading diaspora community, a rival to the leadership of Judea. After conditions for Jews began to deteriorate in Roman-controlled lands, many of the religious leaders of Judea and the Galilee fled to the east. At the academies of Pumbeditha and Sura near Babylon, Rabbinic Judaism based on Talmudic learning began to emerge and assert its authority over Jewish life throughout the diaspora. Rabbinic Judaism created a religious mandate for literacy, requiring all Jewish males to learn Hebrew and read from the Torah. This emphasis on literacy and learning a second language would eventually be of great benefit to the Jews, allowing them to take on commercial and financial roles within Gentile societies where literacy was often quite low.
After the Islamic conquest of the Middle East and North Africa, new opportunities for trade and commerce opened between the Middle East and Western Europe. The vast majority of Jews now lived in Islamic lands. Urbanization, trade, and commerce within the Islamic world allowed Jews, as a highly literate people, to abandon farming and live in cities, engaging in occupations where they could use their skills. The influential, sophisticated, and well organized Jewish community of Mesopotamia, now centered in Baghdad, became the center of the Jewish world. In the Caliphate of Baghdad, Jews took on many of the financial occupations that they would later hold in the cities of Ashkenaz. Jewish traders from Baghdad began to travel to the west, renewing Jewish life in the western Mediterranean region. They brought with them Rabbinic Judaism and Babylonian Talmudic scholarship.
Charlemagne’s expansion of the Frankish empire around 800, including northern Italy and Rome, brought on a brief period of stability and unity in Western Europe. This created opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle once again north of the Alps. Charlemagne granted the Jews freedoms similar to those once enjoyed under the Roman Empire. Returning once again to Frankish lands, many Jewish merchants took on occupations in finance and commerce, including money lending, or usury. (Church legislation banned Christians from lending money in exchange for interest.) From Charlemagne’s time to the present, there is a well-documented record of Jewish life in northern Europe, and by the 11th century, when Rashi of Troyes wrote his commentaries, Ashkenazi Jews had emerged also as interpreters and commentators on the Torah and Talmud.
Efforts to identify the origins of Ashkenazi Jews through DNA analysis began in the 1990s. In fact, it was from this research, prompted by an observation of the different physical features between Ashkenazi Jews and other of the world’s Jewish ethnic divisions, that modern genetic genealogy was born. Dr. Karl Skorecki, a Canadian nephrologist of Ashkenazi parentage, noticed that a fellow-congregant of Sephardi parentage, who was a Kohen like him, had completely different physical features. According to Jewish tradition, all Kohanim are descended from the priest Aaron, brother of Moses. Skorecki reasoned that if Kohanim were indeed the descendants of only one man, they should, at least on the paternal line, have a common set of genetic markers and should perhaps preserve some family resemblance to each other.
Like most DNA studies of human migration patterns, these studies have focused on two segments of the human genome, the Y chromosome (passed on only by males), and the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA, passed on only by females). Both segments are unaffected by recombination, thus, they provide an indicator of paternal and maternal origins, respectively. Genome-wide association studies have also been employed to yield findings relevant to genetic origins.
Male lineages: Y chromosomal DNA
A study of haplotypes of the Y chromosome, published in 2000, addressed the paternal origins of Ashkenazi Jews. Hammer et al. found that the Y chromosome of some Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews contained mutations that are also common among Middle Eastern peoples, but uncommon in the general European population. This suggested that the male ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews could be traced mostly to the Middle East. The proportion of male genetic admixture in Ashkenazi Jews amounts to less than 0.5% per generation over an estimated 80 generations, with "relatively minor contribution of European Y chromosomes to the Ashkenazim," and a total admixture estimate "very similar to Motulsky’s average estimate of 12.5%." This supported the finding that "Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors."
A 2001 study by Nebel et al. showed that both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish populations share the same overall paternal Near Eastern ancestries. The authors also report on Eu 19 chromosomes, which are very frequent in Eastern Europeans (54%-60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews. They hypothesized that these chromosomes could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding Eastern European populations, or, alternatively, that both the Ashkenazi Jews with Eu 19, and to a much greater extent Eastern European populations in general, might partly be descendants of Khazars. Again, this study suggested a total male admixture estimation that is no larger than ~12.5%.
A 2005 study by Nebel et al., based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe. However, 11.5% of male Ashkenazim were found to belong to R-M17, the dominant Y chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europeans, suggesting possible gene flow.
A 2003 study of the Y-chromosome by Behar et al. points to multiple origins for Ashkenazi Levites, a priestly class who comprise approximately 4% of Ashkenazi Jews. It found that Haplogroup R1a, uncommon in the Middle East or among Sephardic Jews, originating in Central Asia and dominant in Eastern Europe, is present in over 50% of Ashkenazi Levites, while the rest of Ashkenazi Levites’ paternal lineage is of Middle Eastern origin. Behar suggests a founding event, probably involving one or very few European men, occurring at a time close to the initial formation and settlement of the Ashkenazi community as a possible explanation. Ashkenazi and Sephardic Cohanim and Israelites, on the other hand, were found to share the same genetic signature, originating in the Middle East 2000 years earlier.
Female lineages: Mitochondrial DNA
Before 2006, geneticists largely attributed the genesis of most of the world’s Jewish populations, including Ashkenazi Jews, to founding effects by males who migrated from the Middle East and "by the women from each local population whom they took as wives and converted to Judaism." In line with this model of origin, David Goldstein, now of Duke University, reported in 2002 that, unlike male lineages, the female lineages in Ashkenazi Jewish communities "did not seem to be Middle Eastern", and that each community had its own genetic pattern and even that "in some cases the mitochondrial DNA was closely related to that of the host community." In his view this suggested "that Jewish men had arrived from the Middle East, taken wives from the host population and converted them to Judaism, after which there was no further intermarriage with non-Jews."
However, a 2006 study by Behar et al., based on high-resolution analysis of haplogroup K(mtDNA), suggested that about 40% of the current Ashkenazi population is descended matrilineally from just four women, or "founder lineages", that were "likely from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool" originating in the Middle East in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Although Haplogroup K is common throughout western Eurasia, "the observed global pattern of distribution renders very unlikely the possibility that the four aforementioned founder lineages entered the Ashkenazi mtDNA pool via gene flow from a European host population:
"..Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium.."
In addition, Behar et al. have suggested that the rest of Ashkenazi mtDNA is originated from ~150 women, most of those likely of Middle Eastern origin.
Genome-wide association studies
In genetic epidemiology, a genome-wide association study (GWA study, or GWAS) is an examination of genetic variation across a given genome, designed to identify genetic associations with observable traits. In human studies, this might include traits such as blood pressure or weight, or why some people get a disease or condition.
A 2006 study by Seldin et al. used over five thousand autosomal SNPs to demonstrate European genetic substructure. The results showed “a consistent and reproducible distinction between ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ European population groups”. Most northern, central, and eastern Europeans (Finns, Swedes, English, Irish, Germans, and Ukrainians) showed >90% in the ‘northern’ population group, while most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spaniards) showed >85% in the ‘southern’ group. Both Ashkenazi Jews as well as Sephardic Jews showed >85% membership in the “southern” group. Referring to the Jews clustering with southern Europeans, the authors state the results were "consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups".
A 2007 study by Bauchet et al.. found that Ashkenazi Jews were most closely clustered with Arabic North African populations when compared to Global population, and in the European structure analysis, they share similarities only with Greeks and Southern Italians, reflecting their east Mediterranean origins.
A recent study (2010) on Jewish ancestry by Atzmon et al. says "Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry.", as both groups – the Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews shared common ancestors in the Middle East about 2500 years ago.
High and Late Middle Ages migrations
Historical records show evidence of Jewish communities north of the Alps and Pyrenees as early as the 8th and 9th century. By the end of the first millenum, Jewish populations were well-established in Western Europe, later followed the Norman Conquestinto England in 1066, and settled in many cities of the Rhine area by the end of the 11th century. With the onset of the Crusades, and the expulsions from England (1290), France (1394), and parts of Germany (15th century), Jewish migration pushed eastward into Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. Over this period of several hundred years, some have suggested, Jewish economic activity was focused on trade, business management, and financial services, due to several presumed factors: ChristianEuropean prohibitions restricting certain activities by Jews, preventing certain financial activities (such as "usurious" loans) between Christians, high rates of literacy, near universal male education, and ability of merchants to rely upon and trust family members living in different regions and countries.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent.
By the 15th century, the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora. This area, which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria, and Prussia(Germany), would remain the main center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.
The answer to why there was so little assimilation of Jews in Eastern Europe for so long would seem to lie in part in the probability that the alien surroundings in Eastern Europe were not conducive, though contempt did not prevent some assimilation. Furthermore, Jews lived almost exclusively in shtetls, maintained a strong system of education for males, heeded rabbinic leadership, and scorned the life-style of their neighbors; and all of these tendencies increased with every outbreak of antisemitism.
Usage of the name
In reference to the Jewish peoples of Northern Europe and particularly the Rhineland, the word Ashkenazi is often found in medieval rabbinic literature. References to Ashkenaz in Yosippon and Hasdai ibn Shaprut‘s letter to the king of the Khazars would date the term as far back as the 10th century, as would also Saadia Gaon‘s commentary on Daniel 7:8.
The word Ashkenaz first appears in the genealogy in the Tanakh (Genesis 10) as a son of Gomer and grandson of Japheth. It is thought that the name originally applied to the Scythians (Ishkuz), who were calledAshkuza in Assyrian inscriptions, and lake Ascanius and the region Ascania in Anatolia derive their names from this group.
Ashkenaz in later Hebrew tradition became identified with the peoples of Germany, and in particular to the area along the Rhine.
Ashkenaz and the Ashkenazi contrast to the land of Knaan, a geo-ethnological term denoting the Jewish populations living east of the Elbe river as opposed to the Ashkenazi Jews living to the West of it, and the Sephardic Jews of Iberian Peninsula.
In the first half of the 11th century, Hai Gaon refers to questions that had been addressed to him from Ashkenaz, by which he undoubtedly means Germany. Rashi in the latter half of the 11th century refers to both the language of Ashkenaz and the country of Ashkenaz. During the 12th century, the word appears quite frequently. In the Mahzor Vitry, the kingdom of Ashkenaz is referred to chiefly in regard to the ritual of the synagogue there, but occasionally also with regard to certain other observances.
In the literature of the 13th century, references to the land and the language of Ashkenaz often occur. See especially Solomon ben Aderet‘s Responsa (vol. i., No. 395); the Responsa of Asher ben Jehiel (pp. 4, 6); his Halakot (Berakot i. 12, ed. Wilna, p. 10); the work of his son Jacob ben Asher, Tur Orach Chayim (chapter 59); the Responsa of Isaac ben Sheshet (numbers 193, 268, 270).
In the Midrash compilation Genesis Rabbah, Rabbi Berechiah mentions Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah as German tribes or as German lands. It may correspond to a Greek word that may have existed in the Greek dialect of the Palestinian Jews, or the text is corrupted from "Germanica." This view of Berechiah is based on the Talmud (Yoma 10a; Jerusalem Talmud Megillah 71b), where Gomer, the father of Ashkenaz, is translated by Germamia, which evidently stands for Germany, and which was suggested by the similarity of the sound.
In later times the word Ashkenaz is used to designate southern and Western Germany, the ritual of which sections differs somewhat from that of Eastern Germany and Poland. Thus the prayer-book of Isaiah Horowitz, and many others, give the piyyutimaccording to the Minhag of Ashkenaz and Poland.
According to 16th century mystic Rabbi Elijah of Chelm, Ashkenazi Jews lived in Jerusalem during the 11th century. The story is told that a German-speaking Palestinian Jew saved the life of a young German man surnamed Dolberger. So when the knights of the First Crusade came to siege Jerusalem, one of Dolberger’s family members who was among them rescued Jews in Palestine and carried them back to Worms to repay the favor. Further evidence of German communities in the holy city comes in the form of halakhic questions sent from Germany to Jerusalem during the second half of the 11th century.
Customs, laws and traditions
The Halakhic practices of Ashkenazi Jews may differ from those of Sephardi Jews, particularly in matters of custom. Differences are noted in the Shulkhan Arukh itself, in the gloss of Moses Isserles. Well known differences in practice include:
- Observance of Pesach (Passover): Ashkenazi Jews traditionally refrain from eating legumes, grain, millet, and rice (quinoa, however, has become accepted as foodgrain in the North American communities), whereas Sephardi Jews typically do not prohibit these foods.
- Ashkenazi Jews freely mix and eat fish and milk products; some Sephardic Jews refrain from doing so.
- Ashkenazim are more permissive toward the usage of wigs as a hair covering for married and widowed women.
- In the case of kashrut for meat, conversely, Sephardi Jews have stricter requirements—this level is commonly referred to as Beth Yosef. Meat products which are acceptable to Ashkenazi Jews as kosher may therefore be rejected by Sephardi Jews. Notwithstanding stricter requirements for the actual slaughter, Sephardi Jews permit the rear portions of an animal after proper Halakhic removal of the sciatic nerve, while many Ashkenazi Jews do not. This is not because of different interpretations of the law; rather, slaughterhouses could not find adequate skills for correct removal of the sciatic nerve and found it more economical to separate the hindquarters and sell them as non-kosher meat.
- Ashkenazi Jews frequently name newborn children after deceased family members, but not after living relatives. Sephardi Jews, on the other hand, often name their children after the children’s grandparents, even if those grandparents are still living (See Sephardi Names). A notable exception to this generally reliable rule is among Dutch Jews, where Ashkenazim for centuries used the naming conventions otherwise attributed exclusively to Sephardim (See Chuts).
- Ashkenazi tefillin bear some differences from Sephardic tefillin. In the traditional Ashkenazic rite, the tefillin are wound towards the body, not away from it. Ashkenazim traditionally don tefillin while standing, whereas other Jews generally do so while sitting down.
- Ashkenazic traditional pronunciations of Hebrew differ from those of other groups. The most prominent consonantal difference from Sephardic and Mizrahic Hebrew dialects is the pronunciation of the Hebrew letter tav in certain Hebrew words (historically, in postvocalic undoubled context) as an /s/ and not a /t/ or /θ/ sound.
Further information: Ashkenazi Hebrew
- The prayer shawl, or tallit (or tallis in Ashkenazi Hebrew), is worn by the majority of Ashkenazi men after marriage, but western European Ashkenazi men wear it from Bar Mitzvah. In Sephardi or Mizrahi Judaism, the prayer shawl is commonly worn from early childhood.
Relationship with other Jews
The term Ashkenazi also refers to the nusach Ashkenaz (Hebrew, "liturgical tradition", or rite) used by Ashkenazi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition’s choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Two other major forms of nusach among Ashkenazic Jews are Nusach Sphard (not to be confused with Sephardi), which is the same as the general Polish (Hasidic) Nusach; and Nusach Chabad, otherwise known as Lubavitch Chasidic, Nusach Arizal or Nusach ha’Ari.
This phrase is often used in contrast with Sephardi Jews, also called Sephardim, who are descendants of Jews from Spain and Portugal. There are some differences in how the two groups pronounce certain Hebrew letters and in points of ritual.
Several famous people have Ashkenazi as a surname, such as Vladimir Ashkenazy. Ironically, most people with this surname hail from within Sephardic communities, particularly from the Syrian Jewish community. The Sephardic carriers of the surname would have some Ashkenazi ancestors since the surname was adopted by families who were initially of Ashkenazic origins who move to Sephardi countries and joined those communities. Ashkenazi would be formally adopted as the family surname having started off as a nickname imposed by their adopted communities. Some have shortened the name to Ash.
The theory that the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of the non-Semitic converted Khazars was advocated by various racial theorists and antisemitic sources in the late-19th and 20th centuries, especially following the publication of Arthur Koestler‘s The Thirteenth Tribe. Despite recent genetic evidence to the contrary, and a lack of any real mainstream scholarly support, this belief is still popular among antisemites.
There are many references to Ashkenazi Jews in the literature of medical and population genetics. Indeed, much awareness of "Ashkenazi Jews" as an ethnic group or category stems from the large number of genetic studies of disease, including many that are well reported in the media, that have been conducted among Jews. Jewish populations have been studied more thoroughly than most other human populations, for a variety of reasons:
- Geneticists are intrinsically interested in Jewish populations as a disproportionate percentage of genetics researchers are Jewish. Israel in particular has become an international center of such research.
- Jewish populations, and particularly the large Ashkenazi Jewish population, are ideal for such research studies, because they exhibit a high degree of endogamy, yet they are sizable.
- Jewish populations are overwhelmingly urban, and are concentrated near biomedical centers where such research has been carried out. Such research is especially easy to carry out in Israel, where cradle-to-grave medical insurance is available, together with universal screening for genetic disease.
- Jewish communities are comparatively well informed about genetics research, and have been supportive of community efforts to study and prevent genetic diseases.
- Participation of Jewish scientists and support from the Jewish community alleviates ethical concerns that sometimes hinder such genetic studies in other ethnic groups.
A study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine examines a particular genetic trait that increases the lifespan of the Ashkenazi population. The study focuses on telomerase, the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomeres at the ends of chromosomesduring cell division.
Genetic counseling and genetic testing are recommended for couples where both partners are of Ashkenazi ancestry. Some organizations, most notably Dor Yeshorim, organize screening programs to prevent homozygosity for the genes that cause these diseases. E. L. Abel’s book Jewish Genetic Disorders: A Layman’s Guide (McFarland, 2008: ISBN 0-7864-4087-2) is a comprehensive reference text on the topic; also see The Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders for more information.
In an essay on Sephardi Jewry, Daniel Elazar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs summarized the demographic history of Ashkenazi Jews in the last thousand years, noting that at the end of the 11th century, 97% of world Jewry was Sephardic and 3% Ashkenazi; in the mid-17th century, "Sephardim still outnumbered Ashkenazim three to two", but by the end of the 18th century, "Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim three to two, the result of improved living conditions in Christian Europe versus the Ottoman Muslim world." By 1931, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for nearly 92% of world Jewry.
Ashkenazi Jews developed the Hasidic movement as well as major Jewish academic centers across Poland, Russia, and Belarus in the generations after emigration from the west. After two centuries of comparative tolerance in the new nations, massive westward emigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries in response to pogroms in the east and the economic opportunities offered in other parts of the world. Ashkenazi Jews have made up the majority of the American Jewish community since 1750.
Of the estimated 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of World War II, the majority of whom were Ashkenazi, about 6 million — more than two-thirds — were systematically murdered in the Holocaust. These included 3 million of 3.3 millionPolish Jews (91%); 900,000 of 1.5 million in Ukraine (60%); and 50–90% of the Jews of other Slavic nations, Germany, France, Hungary, and the Baltic states. Sephardi communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries, including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia. As the large majority of the victims were Ashkenazi Jews, their percentage dropped from nearly 92% of world Jewry in 1931 to nearly 80% of world Jewry today. Many of the surviving Ashkenazi Jews emigratedto countries such as Israel, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and the United States after the war.
Today, Ashkenazi Jews constitute the largest group among Jews, and among Israeli Jews as well. They have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics of Israel since its founding. During the first decades of Israel as a state, strong cultural conflict occurred between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews (mainly east European Ashkenazim). The roots of this conflict, which still exists to a much smaller extent in present day Israeli society, are chiefly attributed to the concept of the "melting pot". That is to say, all Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel were strongly encouraged to "melt down" their own particular exilic identities within the general social "pot" in order to become Israeli.
Ashkenazi Jews have a noted history of achievement in western societies. They have won a large number of the Nobel awards. In those societies where they have been free to enter any profession, they have a record of high occupational achievement, entering professions and fields of commerce where higher education is required. For example, during the 20th century in the United States, Ashkenazi Jews represented approximately 3% of the population, but won 27% of the US Nobel Prizes in science, and 25% of the ACM Turing Awards (the Nobel-equivalent in computer science).
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis in the Yishuv and Israel
- Abraham Isaac Kook: (23 February 1921 – 1 September 1935)
- Isaac Halevi Herzog: (1937 – 25 July 1959)
- Isser Yehuda Unterman: (1964–1972)
- Shlomo Goren: (1972–1983)
- Avraham Shapira: (1983–1993)
- Israel Meir Lau: (1993 – 3 April 2003)
- She’ar Yashuv Cohen (acting): (3 April 2003 – 14 April 2003)
- Yona Metzger: (14 April 2003 – present)
- Ashkenazi intelligence
- History of the Jews in Germany
- Jews and Judaism in Europe
- Jewish ethnic divisions
- Oberlander Jews
- Nusach Ashkenaz
- Three hares
- ^ a b c d e Behar, Doron M.; Ene Metspalu, Toomas Kivisild, Alessandro Achilli, Yarin Hadid, Shay Tzur, Luisa Pereira, Antonio Amorim, Lluı’s Quintana-Murci, Kari Majamaa, Corinna Herrnstadt, Neil Howell, Oleg Balanovsky, Ildus Kutuev, Andrey Pshenichnov, David Gurwitz, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, Antonio Torroni, Richard Villems, and Karl Skorecki (March 2006). "The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event" (PDF). The American Journal of Human Genetics 78 (3): 487–97.doi:10.1086/500307. PMID 16404693. PMC 1380291. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- ^ John Hopkins Gazette, September 8, 1997.
- ^ a b Gabriel E. Feldman, Do Ashkenazi Jews have a Higher than expected Cancer Burden?PDF (650 KiB) , Israel Medical Association Journal, Volume 3, 2001.
- ^ "Ashkenazi Jews", Hebrew University of Jerusalem website. Retrieved November 10, 2009.
- ^ a b c d e f Elazar, Daniel J.. "Can Sephardic Judaism be Reconstructed?". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Pfeffer, Anshel. "Jewish Agency: 13.2 million Jews worldwide on eve of Rosh Hashanah, 5768". Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel. Retrieved 2007-09-13.
- ^ Rosenthal, Rachel (2006). "What’s in a name?". Kedma (Winter 2006).
- ^ Greenberg, Richard and Debra Nussbaum Cohen (2005). "Uncovering the Un-Movement" (PDF).
- ^ Donadio, Rachel (August 10, 2001). "Any Old Shul Won’t Do for the Young and Cool". Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Wall, Irwin. (2002) "Remaking Jewish Identity in France", in Howard Wettstein, Diaspora’s and Exiles. University of California Press, pages 164-190.
- ^ "New Light on Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe", New York Times, 14 Jan 2006
- ^ One Big, Happy Family – Forward.com"
- ^ Schwartz, Seth (2001). "Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 BCE to 640 CE. Princeton University Press. pp. 103–128. ISBN 0-691-11781-0.
- ^ Shaye J. D. Cohen (2001). The Beginnings of Jewishness. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22693-3.
- ^ Botticini, Maristella; Zvi Eckstein (March 2006). "From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversions and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History". Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Hammer, M. F.; A. J. Redd, E. T. Wood, M. R. Bonner, H. Jarjanazi, T. Karafet, S. Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Oppenheim, M. A. Jobling, T. Jenkins, H. Ostrer, and B. Bonné-Tamir (May 9 2000). "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97 (12): 6769. doi:10.1073/pnas.100115997. PMID 10801975.
- ^ Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Bernd Brinkmann, Partha P. Majumder, Marina Faerman, Ariella Oppenheim. "The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East", The American Journal of Human Genetics (2001), Volume 69, number 5. pp. 1095–112
- ^ Almut Nebel, Dvora Filon, Marina Faerman, Himla Soodyall and Ariella Oppenheim. "Y chromosome evidence for a founder effect in Ashkenazi Jews", (European Journal of Human Genetics (2005) 13, 388–391. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201319 Published online 3 November 2004).
- ^ Behar DM, Garrigan D, Kaplan ME, Mobasher Z, Rosengarten D, Karafet TM, Quintana-Murci L, Ostrer H, Skorecki K, Hammer MF. (2004). "Contrasting patterns of Y chromosome variation in Ashkenazi Jewish and host non-Jewish European populations"].Hum Genet: 354–365.
- ^ a b Wade, Nicholas (January 14 2006). "New Light on Origins of Ashkenazi in Europe". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Pearson TA, Manolio TA (2008). "How to interpret a genome-wide association study". JAMA 299 (11): 1335–44. doi:10.1001/jama.299.11.1335. PMID 18349094.
- ^ Seldin MF, Shigeta R, Villoslada P, et al. (September 2006). "European population substructure: clustering of northern and southern populations". PLoS Genet. 2 (9): e143. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020143. PMID 17044734. PMC 1564423
- ^ Rosenberg et al. 2002, Bauchet et al. 2007
- ^ Atzmon, G.; Hao, L.; Pe’er, I.; Velez, C.; Pearlman, A.; Palamara, P. F.; Morrow, B.; Friedman, E. et al. (2010). "Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry".American Journal of Human Genetics 86 (6): 850–859. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.04.015.
- ^ Ben-Sasson, Hayim (1976). A History of the Jewish People. Harvard University Press.
- ^ a b Schoenberg, Shira. "Ashkenazim". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Feldman, Louis H. Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World : Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian. Ewing, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 1996. p 43.
- ^ (Polish) various authors; Szymon Datner (1983). Witold Tyloch. ed. Z dziejów Żydów w Polsce. Warsaw: Interpress. pp. 6. ISBN 83-223-2095-7.
- ^ Commentary on Deuteronomy 3:9; idem on Talmud tractate Sukkah 17a
- ^ Talmud, Hullin 93a
- ^ ib. p. 129
- ^ Seder ha-Dorot", p. 252, 1878 ed.
- ^ Epstein, in "Monatsschrift," xlvii. 344; Jerusalem: Under the Arabs
- ^ Tallit: Jewish Prayer Shawl, Religion Facts. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
- ^ Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, UNC Press, ISBN 0-8078-4638-4, pp. 137-142.
- ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan cults, esoteric nazism, and the politics of identity, NYU Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8147-3155-4, p. 237.
- ^ Paul F. Boller, Memoirs of an Obscure Professor and Other Essays, TCU Press, 1992, pp. 5-6.
- ^ "This theory… is supported by no evidence whatsoever. It has long since been abandoned by all serious scholars in the field, including those in Arab countries, where the Khazar theory is little used except in occasional political polemics." Lewis, Bernard.Semites and Anti-Semites, W.W. Norton and Company, ISBN 0-393-31839-7, p. 48.
- ^ "Of course an anti-Zionist (as well as an anti-Semitic) point is being made here: The Palestinians have a greater political right to Palestine than the Jews do, as they, not the modern-day Jews, are the true descendants of the land’s Jewish inhabitants/owners." Morris, Benny. The Road to Jerusalem: Glubb Pasha, Palestine and the Jews, I.B.Tauris, 2003, ISBN 1-86064-989-0, p. 22.
- ^ "Arab anti-Semitism might have been expected to be free from the idea of racial odium, since Jews and Arabs are both regarded by race theory as Semites, but the odium is directed, not against the Semitic race, but against the Jews as a historical group. The main idea is that the Jews, racially, are a mongrel community, most of them being not Semites, but of Khazar and European origin." Yehoshafat Harkabi, "Contemporary Arab Anti-Semitism: its Causes and Roots", in Helen Fein, The Persisting Question: Sociological Perspectives and Social Contexts of Modern Antisemitism, Walter de Gruyter, 1987, ISBN 3-11-010170-X, p. 424.
- ^ Carmeli, Daphna Birenbaum (2004). "Prevalence of Jews as subjects in genetic research: Figures, explanation, and potential implications". American Journal of Medical Genetics 130a (1): 76–83. doi:10.1002/ajmg.a.20291. PMID 15368499.
- ^ "Longenity – Longevity Genes Project". Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- ^ Britt, Robert Roy (2009-11-12). "One Key Found for Living to 100". LiveScience.com. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- ^ "Estimated Number of Jews Killed in The Final Solution". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- ^ Murray, Charles (April 2007). "Jewish Genius". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-23. "Disproportionate Jewish accomplishment in the arts and sciences continues to this day."
- ^ Murray, Charles (April 2007). "Jewish Genius". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-23. "In the first half of the 20th century, despite pervasive and continuing social discrimination against Jews throughout the Western world, despite the retraction of legal rights, and despite the Holocaust, Jews won 14 percent of Nobel Prizes in literature, chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology. In the second half of the 20th century, when Nobel Prizes began to be awarded to people from all over the world, that figure rose to 29 percent. So far, in the 21st century, it has been 32 percent. Jews constitute about two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population."
- ^ Pinker, Steven (2006-06-17). "THE LESSONS OF THE ASHKENAZIM:Groups and Genes". The New Republican. Retrieved 2007-12-23. "Though never exceeding 3 percent of the American population, Jews account for 37 percent of the winners of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 25 percent of the American Nobel Prize winners in literature, 40 percent of the American Nobel Prize winners in science and economics, and so on."
- ^ Murray, Charles (April 2007). "Jewish Genius". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-23. "From 1870 to 1950, Jewish representation in literature was four times the number one would expect. In music, five times. In the visual arts, five times. In biology, eight times. In chemistry, six times. In physics, nine times. In mathematics, twelve times. In philosophy, fourteen times."
- ^ G. Cochran, J. Hardy, H. Harpending, Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence, Journal of Biosocial Science 38 (5), pp. 659–693 (2006).
References for "Who is an Ashkenazi Jew?"
- Goldberg, Harvey E. (2001). The Life of Judaism. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21267-3.
- Silberstein, Laurence (2000). Mapping Jewish Identities. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-9769-5.
- Wettstein, Howard (2002). Diasporas and Exiles: Varieties of Jewish Identity. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22864-2.
- Wex, Michael (2005). Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-30741-1.
- Beider, Alexander (2001): A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciations, and Migrations. Avotaynu. ISBN 1-886223-12-2.
- Biale, David (2002): Cultures of the Jews: A New History. Schoken Books. ISBN 0-8052-4131-0.
- Brook, Kevin Alan (2003): "The Origins of East European Jews" in Russian History/Histoire Russe vol. 30, nos. 1-2, pp. 1–22.
- Gross, N. (1975): Economic History of the Jews. Schocken Books, New York.
- Haumann, Heiko (2001): A History of East European Jews. Central European University Press. ISBN 963-9241-26-1.
- Kriwaczek, Paul (2005): Yiddish Civilization: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation. Knopf, New York. ISBN 1-40000-4087-6
- Lewis, Bernard (1984): The Jews of Islam. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05419-3.
- Vital, David (1999): A People Apart: A History of the Jews in Europe. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-821980-6.
- The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
- "Jewish legacy inscribed on genes?". Los Angeles Times. 18 April 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- Ashkenazi history at the Jewish Virtual Library
- "The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event"PDF (2.02 MB)
- "Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA haplogroup distribution varies among distinct subpopulations: lessons of population substructure in a closed group" (European Journal of Human Genetics – 2007)
- "Analysis of genetic variation in Ashkenazi Jews by high density SNP genotyping"
- Nusach Ashkenaz, and Discussion Forum
- Ashkenaz Heritage
The Thirteenth Tribe
The Khazar Empire and its Heritage
By Arthur Koestler
This book traces the history of the ancient Khazar Empire, a major but almost forgotten power in Eastern Europe, which in A.D. 740 converted to Judaism. Khazaria, a conglomerate of Aryan Turkic tribes, was finally wiped out by the forces of Genghis Han, but evidence indicates that the Khazars themselves migrated to Poland and formed the craddle of Western (Ashkenazim) Jewry…
The Khazars’ sway extended from the Black sea to the Caspian, from the Caucasus to the Volga, and they were instrumental in stopping the Muslim onslaught against Byzantium, the eastern jaw of the gigantic pincer movement that in the West swept across northern Africa and into Spain.
Thereafter the Khazars found themselves in a precarious position between the two major world powers: the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium and the triumphant followers of Mohammed. As Arthur Koestler points out, the Khazars were the Third World of their day, and they chose a surprising method of resisting both the Western pressure to become Christian and the Eastern to adopt Islam. Rejecting both, they converted to Judaism.
The second part of Mr. Koestler’s book deals with the Khazar migration to Polish and Lithuanian territories, caused by the Mongol onslaught, and their impact on the racial composition and social heritage of modern Jewry. He produces a large body of meticulously detailed research in support of a theory that sounds all the more convincing for the restraint with which it is advanced.
Mr. Koestler concludes: "The evidence presented in the previous chapters adds up to a strong case in favour of those modern historians – whether Austrian, Israeli or Polish – who, independently from each other, have argued that the bulk of modern Jewry is not of Palestinian, but of Caucasian origin. The mainstream of Jewish migrations did not flow from the Mediterranean across France and Germany to the east and then back again. The stream moved in a consistently westerly direction, from the Caucasus through the Ukraine into Poland and thence into Central Europe. When that unprecedented mass settlement in Poland came into being, there were simply not enough Jews around in the west to account for it, while in the east a whole nation was on the move to new frontiers" ( page 179, page 180).
"The Jews of our times fall into two main divisions: Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
The Sephardim are descendants of the Jews who since antiquity had lived in Spain (in Hebrew Sepharad) until they were expelled at the end of the fifteenth century and settled in the countries bordering the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and to a lesser extent in Western Europe. They spoke a Spanish-Hebrew dialect, Ladino, and preserved their own traditions and religious rites. In the 1960s, the number of Sephardim was estimated at 500,000.
The Ashkenazim, at the same period, numbered about eleven million. Thus, in common parlance, Jew is practically synonymous with Ashkenazi Jew." ( page 181).
In Mr. Koestler’s own words, "The story of the Khazar Empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most cruel hoax which history has ever perpetrated."
The history of the Ashkenazi Jews was widely known and appreciated in the former Soviet Union. Ashkenazi militants traced the area where the Turkic Khazars originated before their migration to Southern Russia to Birobidjan, an Eastern Siberian area as big as Switzerland bordered by the Amur river, by China and Mongolia. Around 1928 they started building settlements with the Soviet government’s help and in 1934 the Autonomous Republic (Okrug) of Birobidjan Yevrei came into being with official languages of Yiddish and Russian. It is still there as an Autonomous Republic to this day, offering the only historically legitimate settlement area for Ashkenazi Jews willing to exercise their "right to return"…
Mr. Koestler was an Ashkenazi Jew and took pride in his Khazar ancestry. He was also a very talented and successful writer who published over 25 novels and essays. His most successful book, Darkness at Noon, was translated in thirty-three languages.
As expected, The Thirteenth Tribe caused a stir when published in 1976, since it demolishes ancient racial and ethnic dogmas…At the height of the controversy in 1983, the lifeless bodies of Arthur Koestler and his wife were found in their London home. Despite significant inconsistencies, the police ruled their death a suicide…Another Mossad "suicide"!
Carl Zimmer pointed me to a new paper, A genome-wide genetic signature of Jewish ancestry perfectly separates individuals with and without full Jewish ancestry in a large random sample of European Americans. The title is so informative that pasting the abstract is almost unnecessary, but here is the conclusion which gets to the point:
In conclusion, we show that, at least in the context of the studied sample, it is possible to predict full Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity, although it should be noted that the exact dividing line between a Jewish and non-Jewish cluster will vary across sample sets which in practice would reduce the accuracy of the prediction. While the full historical demographic explanations for this distinction remain to be resolved, it is clear that the genomes of individuals with full Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry carry an unambiguous signature of their Jewish heritage, and this seems more likely to be due to their specific Middle Eastern ancestry than to inbreeding.
There have been other papers which show that Ashkenazi Jews form a separate cluster from gentile whites in the United States. This is important again in the context of biomedical studies attempting to ascertain the genetic roots of particular diseases; population substructure (e.g., Jew vs. non-Jew) may result in confounded associations. Also, one of the authors of the paper is David Goldstein, author of the fascinating Jacob’s Legacy.
In any case, on to the PC charts where the real action is. Do note that I’ve resized and added explanatory labels here & there for clarity.
As you can see, there is almost perfect separation between the Jewish and non-Jewish clusters here. PC 1 = first principle component of variation, and PC 2 second principle component of variation. These are the two largest independent dimensions of genetic variance extractable out of the data set. The authors note that there is almost perfect separation along PC 1, and, they note that most of the gentile whites who are closest to the Jews on this PC are of Italian or Eastern Mediterranean origin. This is important later.
As you can see here, the interesting point is thatJewish ancestral quanta is roughly predictive of genetic position.This shouldn’t be that surprising once we know that Jews and non-Jews separate so cleanly (e.g., someone who is biracial would be located between their two parent racial clusters on any plot), but it is striking nonetheless in reaffirming the genetic reality of Jewishness. The United States has an easy genealogical history for Jews, as the ancestors of all self-identified American Jews today arrived on the order of 4-6 generations ago. These individuals were likely Jewish relatively far back in their lineages, and admixture is easy to recall because it is of recent vintage.
Finally, let’s put Ashkenazi Jews in the worldwide context.
I labeled a few populations for clarity. Orcadians are individuals from the Orkney Islands, just off the northern coast of Scotland. As you can see, American whites occupy an expansive region, in large part due to their diverse origins and admixtures. The Druze have been genetically isolated for over 5 centuries, so it is not particularly surprising they form a distinct cluster. It is likely a function of drift due to bottlenecking, just like Iceland. The separation between the Ashkenazi and the Palestinians might be of interest to some because of political reasons.
As the authors note, the Ashkenazi are almost certainly a compound population. There are full-Jews who “look gentile” and full-Jews who could pass easily in the Middle East as a native. Most Ashkenazi Jews exhibit a mix of features. The genetic likelihood that the Ashkenazi have varied origins should no surprise. The paper notes that Askhenazi heterozygosity is actually somewhat greater than American whites, implying that the source of their distinctiveness has to do with genetic origin, not genetic history (i.e., population bottlenecks). Another population which I suspect resembles the population history of the Ashkenazi are Uyghurs, who fall between Europeans and Han Chinese in their ancestry. But the hybridization even occurred in the past, so the Uyghurs today can be thought of as a separate population with its own suite of genetic combinations, as opposed to a hybrid of two “pure” groups. Similarly, Ashkenazi Jews no doubt emerged from hybridization evens between Middle Eastern and European females, but over the generations they have been relatively endogamous (most gene flow has been out of the community into gentile Europeans through conversion) and so are a genetically coherent population in their own right.
Note that the authors had only a few non-Ashkenazi Jews in their sample, so the assertions above only apply to the Ashkenazi (95-99% of America’s Jewish population, but only ~50% of Israel’s).
Update: Dienekes emphasizes that the hypothesis that the admixture element which makes Ashkenazi Jews distinctive from other Europeans is Middle Eastern is somewhat speculative. I’m less skeptical than him seeing as how some Y lineages are Middle Eastern, but he offers this interesting point:
With that said, I do suspect that the distinctiveness of the Ashkenazi Jews is in part due to the possession of a Middle Eastern component of unspecified strength. I base this hypothesis on the results reported to me about the EURO-DNA-CALC test. This test distinguishes between NW, SE Europeans and Ashkenazi Jews; a few Arab individuals who have communicated their results to me have reported fairly high AJ components, indicating that part of what distinguishes an AJ from Europeans is related to the Middle Eastern Semitic background of that group.
List of Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim are Jews descended from themedieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland. Many later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in Germany, Poland, Austria, Eastern Europe and elsewhere between the 10th and 19thcenturies. From medieval times until the mid-20th century, the lingua franca among Ashkenazi Jews wasYiddish or Slavic languages such as the (now extinct) Knaanic, and they developed a distinct culture and liturgy influenced by interaction with surrounding nations.
Although in the 11th century they comprised only 3% of the world’s Jewish population, today Ashkenazi Jews account for approximately 80% of world Jewry.  Most Jewish communities with extended histories in Europe are Ashkenazim, with the exception of those associated with the Mediterraneanregion. A significant portion of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Eastern Ashkenazim, particularly in the United States.
- Professor Chimen Abramsky
- Jenny Abramsky
- Professor Samson Abramsky
- Rabbi Yehezkel Abramsky
- Dannie Abse
- Leo Abse
- Shayne Friedman
- Leonard Adleman
- Guido Adler
- Kurt Herbert Adler
- George Akerlof
- Kenneth Arrow
- Maurice Ascalon
- Tobias Asser
- Robert Aumann
- Robert Axelrod
- Moshe Bar
- Ehud Barak
- Joel Barnett
- Gary Becker
- Menachem Begin
- David Ben-Gurion
- Elmer Bernstein
- Leonard Bernstein
- Hans Bethe
- Felix Bloch
- Manuel Blum
- David Bohm
- Max Born
- Mikhail Botvinnik
- Leon Brittan, Baron Brittan of Spennithorne
- Sir Israel Brodie
- Bronfman family
- Martin Buber
- Sir Arnold Burgen
- George Burns
- Saul Bellow
- Leelach Ben-Ari
- Jeremy Bleiberg
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The Racial Biology of the Jews by Baron Otmar von Verschuer, M.D.
The Racial Biology of the Jews
by Baron Otmar von Verschuer, M.D.
TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION (Charles E. Weber, Ph.D.)
The following article was taken from Volume III (1938) of the very important series, Forschungen zur Judenfrage (Studies on the Jewish Problem), the first six volumes of which were published by the Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt in Hamburg during 1937 to 1941. The nearly fifty articles in these six volumes represent the thinking on the Jewish question by some of the best German minds of that time. The authors of the articles were specialists, in some cases internationally known specialists, in a variety of fields, including anthropology, demography, genealogy, genetics, history, law, literary scholarship, musicology, philosophy and theology. The earlier articles in the series were given as lectures before meetings of the Reichsinstitut für die Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands, Forschungsabteilung Judenfrage (National Institute for the History of the New Germany, Research Division for the Jewish Problem). It is not at all difficult to imagine that the research efforts which went into these articles cost the erstwhile German government hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Reichsmark.
Although the research was subsidized by the National Socialist government, the tone of the articles is by no means generally and uniformly hostile to Jews. Baron von Verschuer’s article, for example, is nearly free of value judgments and it concedes in a number of passages that Jews have special strengths characteristic of their race.
By 1936 a number of circumstances had converged which made possible the publishing of this large body of research by non-Jews on the Jewish question. Such a constellation is highly unlikely ever to appear in the sky again, certainly not in our lifetime, and that is a fact which in itself gives these volumes a unique position and value in the serious study of the Jewish question. One circumstance was the importance which the German government attached at that time to the Jewish question and its willingness to allocate considerable economic resources to the study of the question in an attempt to find a constructive solution to it. This circumstance was combined with the willingness and ability of German scientists and scholars to come to grips with the Jewish problem as far as their areas of expertise were concerned. Perhaps most important, however, was the circumstance that there were individuals who had the vision and ability to organize such efforts. Especially noteworthy was Dr. Karl Alexander von Müller (1882-1964), who, was a history professor at the University of Munich from 1917 to 1945 and who also became President of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Not only did he publish a number of notable books between 1923 and 1949, but he also published the Historische Zeitschrift during the years 1933-1945. His student, Walter Frank (1905-1945), became President of the above-mentioned Reichsinstitut für die Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands. We encounter Frank’s vivid and interesting exposition of the objectives of the Forschungsabteilung at the beginning of the first volume of the series. One need only read Frank’s sixteen-page address to understand the attitude toward the Jewish problem held by many middle class Europeans in its historical perspective.
It would be difficult to imagine that the present generation of effete, career-oriented, intimidated American academic types could ever produce a series similar to the Forschungen zur Judenfrage. The American academic establishment has been far too seriously corrupted by funds from Washington and Jewish donors. Fortunately, not all American scholars kowtow. There are individual Americans in academic life who have shown the courage, vision, ability and integrity necessary to challenge some of the historical and anthropological myths which have been used with cynically evil calculation to manipulate American public opinion. Such scholars have been harassed and in some cases even dismissed from their hard-earned positions which required many years of professional preparation.
Even the most philo-Semitic of readers will have to concede the historical value, if nothing else, of the Forschungen zur Judenfrage because they throw penetrating light on the European attitudes toward Jews during the 1920s and 1930s and how they came about. Many Jews, but not all of them, would have us believe that they were just the convenient victims of a scapegoat mentality, prevalent especially in the defeated nations of Europe after 1918. However, this is a grossly oversimplified, self-serving explanation that disregards a number of strong historical forces, such as the great and justifiable fear which the European middle classes had of the barbarically cruel Communist government which had been installed over the former Russian Empire and which was correctly sensed as an essentially Jewish government.
As a result of the energetic book burning and intellectual intimidation on the part of officials of the powers which occupied Germany beginning in 1945 after the tragic, unnecessary and fratricidal Second World, War, these volumes are especially scarce. The number of known copies in the United States could very well be Ins than a dozen. I have learned that they are in strong demand and are being sold at high prices in the German book trade.
The first article I have chosen for translation is certainly one of the most important in the series and perhaps one of the most interesting ones for the American reader concerned with the Jewish question. It deals with genetically determined characteristics which, in their totality, differentiate Jews from other races Many Jews, but by no means all of them, have energetically sought to deny that such genetically determined differences exist, or at least they have sought to deny to non-Jews the existence of such differences, even if they themselves are consciously or subconsciously aware of them. Here we need only think of Franz Boas (1858-1942) and his all too influential school of anthropology.
The author of this incisive article, Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer (1896-1969), had a distinguished career in the study of human genetics. From 1927 to 1935 he was a division chief of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics in Berlin and during 1942 to 1945 he was its director. He published studies of tuberculosis in twins in 1933. His Eugenik was published in 1966. Baron von Verschuer also held professorial posts in Frankfurt am Main, Berlin and Münster. The second edition of his layman’s manual on hereditary diseases and eugenic measures, Leitfaden der Rassenhygiene, was published in 1944.
When reading von Verschuer’s Rassenbiologie der Juden we must bear in mind that it was written nearly a half century ago. I have not chosen to modernize his vocabulary or use such fashionable euphemisms as "mental retardation" for "feeblemindedness" (Schwachsinn).
Lest it be thought that von Verschuer was simply summarizing his own subjective observations or was exclusively dependent on materials published after 1933, we need only note that nearly all of the literature cited in the valuable bibliography at the end of the article originated before 1933 and that many of its authors would seem to be Jewish.
Since the center of gravity of the Jewish problem has passed from Europe to North America, especially during the course of the twentieth century, it is now high time that some of the best non-Jewish research ever done on the Jewish problem be made available to English-speaking readers. Even just the titles and the names of the authors make exciting reading for those who wish to acquire a deeper knowledge of the roots of one of the gravest and most pressing of American national problems. In order to convey a hint of the breadth and depth of the articles in the Forschungen zur Judenfrage we shall list the original titles and their English equivalents after the conclusion of the article by Baron von Verschuer.
Finally let me recommend to Jews themselves that they read and reflect on the Forschungen zur Judenfrage, for these studies contain many astute observations and much valuable historical information as seen through the eyes of outstanding non-Jewish scholars. The Jews’ persistence in blind hatred of their host populations, their insensitivity to or even total disregard of the sufferings of their victims, their ruthless use of the media which they now largely control, their insidious but shortsighted attempts to destroy the mores of their host populations, their disregard of the lessons of history and their arrogant presumption of their own moral superiority can only render impossible a constructive, nonviolent solution to the Jewish Problem.
RACIAL BIOLOGY OF THE JEWS
by Baron Otmar von Verschuer, M.D.
"Jewry was and is a religion — but never a race" is the final conclusion at which the Jew M. Fishberg arrives in his book, Die Rassenmerkmale der Juden (The Racial Characteristics of Jews), Munich, 1913. A large number of similar opinions of Jewish authors could be quoted additionally. Among the opinions of Jewish authors, however, there are also opposing ones. Thus, we find in the book by F.A. Theilhaber, Der Untergang der deutschen Juden (The Decline of German Jews), Munich, 1911, the remarkable passage: "Inbreeding guarantees the only objective Jewish identification and maintains the racial nature of Jews while the adherence to the Jewish religion represents the subjective aspect of belonging to the Jewish group." Thus, within the Jews’ own ranks there is not only to be found denial but also recognition of the racial aspect as their own identification and differentiation from their host populations.
Much confusion has been caused by the improper formulation of the question, "Are Jews a race?" The term "race," a systemic race [Systemrasse], as it has been established by scientific anthropology, cannot immediately be applied to Jews. As we heard in the lecture by Professor Fischer ["Rassenentstehung und äteste Rassengeschichte der Hebräer" (Racial Origin and Earliest Racial History of the Hebrews), Forschungen zur Judenfrage, Volume III, pp. 121-136], the Jews have developed from various racial roots. They consist of a number of races which are contrasted as a foreign element to the races of our nation. By means of this simple formulation we have not yet sufficiently grasped the racio-biological problem of the Jews as we encounter it today. The racial history of the Jews during the past 2,000 years must be taken into consideration. The inherently astonishing phenomenon that an ethnic group could preserve itself so long without a territory (the Teutons lost their ethnic identity in southeastern Europe and northern Africa within centuries — the Nordic racial admixture which the Teutons imparted to those countries can be noticed even today) has been explained too unilaterally simply by the racial characteristics of Jews and their genetic isolation. The communality of religion, the special education through the Talmud and the idea of being a chosen people have maintained themselves with such force that during the course of history individuals and even groups of people could be absorbed into Jewry by marriage and conversion without their being any change in the characteristics of Jews. Taken as a whole, the Jews have remained racially isolated within the other nations.
Quite contradictory conclusions have been drawn from the history of the Jews for the judging of the racial question: Some emphasize the preservation of the original racial character while others speak of an "adaptation" of the Jews to the racial characteristics of their host populations. The attempt is made to substantiate this by individual pictures of "Nordic," "Ethiopian," "Indian" or even "Mongolian" Jews. Even the strictest laws cannot erect any absolute barriers between human beings when they live together, "Border crossings" cannot be avoided forever and the occurrence of persons of mixed race is the result. (I am grateful to Karl Georg Kuhn for pointing out that in some cases it also could be a matter of missionized Jews.)
In order not to encumber the investigation of the racial biology of modem Jews with any hypotheses, I shall first give a description of the Jews simply confined to those living in central Europe. The purpose of this description shall be to separate the genetic from the non-genetic characteristics in order to reach the objective of recognizing the genetic differences between Germans and Jews (I.e., persons of German extraction — "of German or racially related heritage." [Translator’s note: The phrase "deutschen oder arterwandten Blutes" is a formulation taken from the German racial laws of 1935].) From this position of hereditary biological makeup, which has its foundation in laws of nature that are generally recognized today, it will be easier to arrive at a clear insight into the racial-biological problem of the Jewish question.
If two groups of human beings are compared with one another, it must first be observed that every characteristic within a group has a certain more or less wide-ranging variational latitude. A distinguishing difference in a characteristic is then present if the variational latitude of the one group does not overlap with that of the other group, i.e., characteristics of the one group do not occur in the other group. The observation of such a characteristic then clearly establishes the membership of a human being. Such characteristics that are absolutely typical of a race are, for example, the black skin color of the Negro races, the "fil-fil" or peppercorn hair of the Bushmen and the slanting upper eyelid fold of the Mongolians. These characteristics do not occur among persons of German extraction. By such characteristics one would immediately be able to recognize the strain of a foreign race. Such an individual characteristic by which a Jew could be recognized with absolute certainty is not known.
All individual characteristics of the German racial groups are also found in individual Jews and characteristics typical of Jews do not prove with certainty a Jewish strain in the ancestry of a person of German extraction when they occur isolated in him. The racial characteristics of the Jews (preponderantly Near Eastern-Oriental) can also have come to us through non-Jews in individual cases. Obviously, those are rare exceptions; as a rule we are correct in our racial diagnosis, which, however, is always based on the observation of typical combinations of characteristics.
Between a group of Germans and a group of Jews the differences can easily be observed because the distribution curve in many characteristics is a clearly different one. The mean values are different as well as characteristic types which occur with greatest frequency. Nevertheless the curves of distribution of characteristics overlap. It is thus a question of gradual differences as they are, in most cases, expressed in frequency differences. A decision from the characteristic as to the membership in one group or the other can then be made only with greater or lesser probability.
After these general preliminary remarks, we are going to discuss the characteristics, one by one, by which the Jews are differentiated from the persons of German extraction. As the first group of characteristics we shall observe the normal physical features, the racial characteristics in the narrower sense of the word. Thereafter the sicknesses and the psychological characteristics, will undergo a discussion.
As the medium height of the Jews, values between 161 cm and 164 cm [2.54 cm=1 inch] are found for the male sex. If we compare this measurement with the anthropological data which are recorded in Deutsche Rassenkunde ("German Anthropology"), published by Eugen Fischer and now comprising 16 volumes, we find that all German comparative groups have a higher average height, between 166 cm and 173 cm. Height of the body is, aside from certain environmental variations, a preponderantly genetically determined characteristic.
During the course of growth, differences occur by virtue of the fact that rather generally sexual maturity begins earlier in the case of the Jews. The beginning of menstruation in the case of Jewesses occurs 1/2 to 1 year earlier than in groups in comparable climatic and social circumstances. Even if the onset of puberty is changed by external influences such as climate, urban life and occupational activity, racial differences manifest themselves. The early maturity of Jewish children is manifested in the physical as well as psychological areas.
In the growth ratios of the body the Jew is characterized as follows: In relation to the length of the torso the length of the legs is not as great, frequently resulting in the impression of a squat build. The arms are also relatively short. Hands and feet are often narrow. On the legs, which are frequently crooked, a weak calf musculature is often quite noticeable. The musculature and connective tissue exhibit a flabbiness which is caused in part by a lack of use and bodily exercise, but also in part by a hereditary tendency. As a result of these factors, one often observes a flat chest, a round back, a limp posture and the so frequent tendency to flat feet. According to Salaman, among the enlisted men of the English army during the war flat feet were found in a frequency of 1 to 40 in the English soldiers and in a frequency of 1 to 6 in the Jewish soldiers. Of course, these body ratios have an effect on the gait, which is described as soft or slinking, or, as groping, dragging or shuffling.
The head of the Jew is of medium size. In the majority of cases it is short to medium. The comparable German groups show in part larger measurements, and some groups also narrower heads in the length-breadth ratio without the differences being particularly noticeable.
Pronounced differences can be seen in the soft parts of the face. In the case of Jews, to some extent (more commonly in the case of young people and the female sex), the "almond eye" characteristic of the oriental race is found. The inner comer of the eye is inclined to be round, while the outer comer is inclined to be pointed and turned up toward the outside. The upper lid is often described as thickened and of a heavy appearance.
In most cases the lips are somewhat fleshy, often puffed up, and above all the outward-hanging lower lip is noticeable, which is in conjunction with the high position of the furrow of the lower chin lip.
The "Jewish nose" has been described rather often. It is characterized by the fact that the tip of the nose is hook-shaped and beat downward and the sides of the nose are drawn upward. Viewed from the side, the shape of a "6" thus results with a stroke extended upwards. The sides of the nose are characterized by a special fleshiness, the cartilage of the tip of the nose is rather thick and the nasal septum sags downwards. Only a minority of Jews have this nasal form, which, for example, is not only characteristic of Jews but also the Near Eastern race. In addition to the course, thick and hooked "Jewish nose" there is also found the narrow, gently curved nose of the oriental race.
The ear is often described as especially "fleshy," relatively large and jughandle-like.
The skin of the Jews is often lacking in a ruddy color and of a light yellow, dull color, which often appears especially light in contrast to the dark color of the hair.
According to more recent investigations, the various human races are differentiated in the patterns of the side lines of the finger tips, and probably also of the surfaces of the hands and feet. From a table compiled by Fischer it is to be observed that the Jews occupy a special position among the European groups; they have more of the whorl pattern and less of the loop pattern. The pattern formation of the skin lines is essentially determined by special hereditary factors, it is completed after the first two to three months of the development of the embryo and it is not alterable by later environmental influences. Thus, a new proof of the distinct racial position of the Jews is to be seen in this observed difference from the European nations, which is greatest in contrast to the predominantly Nordic nations.
The color of the hair and of the eyes is darker on the average than in our case. Hair colors between brown and black and brown eyes are encountered most frequently. For many Jewish groups, a relatively large portion of red-haired persons is alleged (between 3% and 6% according to Martin), while in the case of Virchow’s investigation of school children only 0.5% of Jewish children were observed to be red-haired. Redness of hair is often associated with strikingly white skin and an increased formation of freckles. Blond hair and blue eyes are not a rarity amongst Jews, however. In the case of the investigation of school children during the years 1874-1877 initiated by Virchow, amongst all school children in the German Empire, including the Jewish children, there were found 31.8% with light skin, blond hair and blue eyes, and amongst the Jewish children alone there were 11.17%. Altogether, children with dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes were found at a ratio of 14.35%, while the ratio was 42% amongst the Jewish school children.
The question does not have to be discussed here in detail as to whether the blond people and the people with light eyes were to be found with a similar frequency amongst the Jews even of ancient times or whether they were absorbed by the Jews at a later time. I concur with Günther’s view that a strain of the Nordic race must not be seen as a primary factor in the light pigments amongst the Jews, but that it is mostly a matter of strains of the East Baltic race. Fischer also thinks of a mutational new origin of the hereditary makeup.
The form of the head hair in the case of Jews is less frequently straight and more frequently twisted in a spiral manner than is the case with German ethnic groups. The black head hair, which is twisted in a closely spiral manner and which is still occasionally encountered amongst Jews, is viewed as a result of an earlier Negroid admixture.
The body hair cover and the beard growth are often especially strong amongst Jews. Occasionally the border of the head hair ends in a downward point over the middle of the forehead.
The differences in characteristics of movement and gestures are more difficult to set forth in an objective, scientific manner than the differences in morphological characteristics, although the former, in particular, are especially strongly noticeable as a pure impression and are also striking to the layman. The fact that the Jews are different from us in typical movements and gestures is not doubted by Jews themselves. I quote two statements by Walther Rathenau: "A strange vision! In the midst of German life a separate, foreign kind of human beings, brilliantly and strikingly attired, with a hot-blooded, mobile behavior! An Asiatic horde on the sand of the March [i.e., Brandenburg]!" In another passage he says of the Jew: "It is difficult for him to find the happy mean between tail-wagging subordination and nasty arrogance." We have already spoken of the general lax body stance. Günther describes [the following] as characteristic: "The movements of the head often have a rocking aspect, just as the movements of the shoulder area, which gives the impression of something padded in the case of many Jews. In the case of many Jews the head appears pushed forward along with the neck, so that the collar is at some distance from the neck." "The arm movements of many Jews are characterized by the fact that the upper arm is closer to the thorax down to the elbow, while the lower arm gives a lively accompaniment to speaking with its movements." An alert observer will recognize the Jew amongst people on the street by his gait and by movements, even in the case of actors. The fact that in the kind of movement of a human being there is much which is hereditary, and thus of racial origin, has been demonstrated by observations of families and twins as well as comparative racial studies.
It is difficult to answer the question as to what extent the peculiar manner of speaking of many Jews, the "jabbering," must be viewed as an hereditary tendency or as something which has originated through education and other environmental influences.
It has also been claimed by various sources that the Jews are characterized by a particular "racial scent." It is difficult to judge what is attributable in this regard to environmental influences, such as living quarters, clothing, occupational activity, cleaning of the body and the composition of food; one need only think of the consumption of garlic, which the Jews like. The secretion of odorous substances takes place through the so-called apocrine glands, which form part of the sweat glands and are differentiated from the sweat glands by several features. They are to be found only at particular places on the body. They are supposed to be present to a greater extent among the colored races and the Jews, especially of the female sex (Leven, according to Schubert).
It has thus far been impossible to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews on the basis of the characteristics of their blood. In 1925 Manoiloff published an article, according to which he believes he can distinguish between the blood of Jews and that of Russians on the basis of a different coloration with cresol violet. Further data on the process have not been published. Subsequent investigations appear to have been without success. The investigation of blood groups, which was all the rage for a while, has not furnished us with any new method for differentiating human races. Only the proportion of the blood group hereditary characteristics is different in the racial groups. In this incidence the Jews occupy a position between Near Eastern and oriental groups, which is quite in keeping with our conception of the racial origin of Jews. The Jews are differentiated from the German population only by a somewhat higher proportion of blood group B.
On the whole, from the comparison of physical racial characteristics it is clear that the Jews living in Germany are quite distinct from the German population. Since it is a question of characteristics which are quite essentially genetically determined, the observed difference cannot be caused by external influences of any kind; the difference can only be explained by the different racial origin of the Germans on the one hand and of the Jews on the other hand. The characteristics which are considered typical of the present-day Jew and by which we can recognize him in his outward appearance, point to the Near Eastern and oriental-Mediterranean races. Hence, the results of research on racial history and those of the racial-biological examination of the Jews of the present time are in keeping with each other. The racial types of the Near Eastern and oriental races, known as Ashkenazim and Sephardim are still found today amongst the European Jews. The Ashkenazic type is the predominant one amongst the Jews in Germany.
Obviously, it must not be expected that every Jew can be classified as one of these types; this is possible only for a minority of them. Quite incorrectly there has been a tendency to see in this circumstance an "adaptation" to the environment or the host populations!
The distribution of racial characteristics and the divergence from typical combinations of characteristics in the present-day populations is a rather general phenomenon. Let us simply consider our own nation: How many exhibit in their physical appearance, for example (not to mention at all the psychological characteristics), the "pure" type of the Nordic race, which, after all, forms the basic component of our entire nation? If a group of people of another race is absorbed in another population (let us assume of an originally uniform race) and if finally a state of being completely mixed comes about, then the correlation between the characteristics of the two races is dissolved, that is, for example, the characteristic of blue eyes of the first race as well as the characteristics of dolichocephalism and smooth hair of the first race can be combined just as with the characteristics of brachycephalism and wavy hair of the second race. The frequency with which such "harmonic" or "unharmonic" combinations occur is then determined only by the frequency of the characteristics. In the case of the individual person, then, (in a state of being completely mixed) the presence of other characteristics of this race cannot be ascertained off hand from the one characteristic. For this reason the heritage of the Nordic race must not be sought in special "purity" only in those who conform to the racial pattern in the characteristics of the external physical type. Someone can display "defects" in comparison with this racial pattern (such as a round head or brown eyes) and still be quite preponderantly of the Nordic race; and vice versa a good Nordic type can exhibit in one instance a complete lack of Nordic characteristics in his psychological behavior.
On the basis of these general racial-biological investigations we understand the lack of uniformity in the physical racial pattern of the Jews. Various racial springs have flowed together in them. For that reason "pure" types of the Near Eastern race or oriental race are now only seldom to be found amongst them. Most Jews can indeed be recognized as to their racial origin and type by several physical characteristics. [Being a member of a foreign race cannot be circumvented by "assimilation." For that reason Jews who favor assimilation (Assimilationsjuden) are especially inclined to admit the possibility of the change of racial characteristics by the environment.] However, there are also Jews who cannot be recognized as such by their external appearance. Mind you, those are not, for instance, especially well "adapted" and especially slightly "Jewish" Jews! They are types of combinations which have simply remained free of the physical characteristics by which we recognize the Jew externally. There are not any indications of the other Jewish characteristics, especially the psychological ones, which can be inferred from them. It is therefore of little consequence whether prominent persons of intellectual Jewry can be recognized as Jews also in their purely physical characteristics or not. [There are rare cases of Jews by religion who are not Jews by race; under those circumstances, however, the conversion of the parents or grandparents, illegitimate origin or, if not those, adoption must be proved.]
We cannot cover the racial-biological problem of the Jews completely until we have examined the sicknesses and the normal psychological characteristics of Jews.
The different ways in which two human races are afflicted by diseases can be caused by three different groups of factors:
1. Pathological racial traits. Just as there are normal traits which characterize a race and differentiate it from the other human races, a racial difference can also be defined in terms of pathological hereditary traits. Up to the present there is no pathological hereditary trait known which occurs only in one race and in no other races. For that reason all differences of pathological racial traits can only be expressed in the different frequency of pathological hereditary traits.
2. Racial predisposition. A human race is characterized by the common possession of hereditary characteristics by which it differentiates itself from other races. A certain constitution of the whole body as well as of individual organs is necessarily concomitant with a particular susceptibility or, also, resistance in the presence of certain pathogenic influences. As a result of this the statistics give a varied frequency of diseases; the course of the disease and the kind of clinical picture can also bear a particular stamp in accordance with the racial predisposition.
3. Externally caused differences. Differences of two races in contracting illnesses can also be only apparently racially caused: Makeup of the soil, climatic conditions, exposure to infection, habitation, clothing, nutrition and occupational activity are seldom the same in the case of two races. However, in the evaluation of racial-pathological data they require extremely great attention.
In the following section only such observations are listed which have been confirmed by repeated investigations and which cannot find their explanation in various environmental influences.
The special need for physicians and the fear of disease on the part of Jews is confirmed by nearly all observers. Weissenburg speaks of nosophilia and nosophobia of Jews. Psychopathic and in nervous persons go to their physicians more frequently, even on account of imagined illnesses, and, on the other hand, just the fear of sickness rather frequently leads to actually becoming sick. There is thus a close, alternating relationship of cause and effect. The especially strong sensitivity to pain on the part of Jews has also been noted.
The average life expectancy is a somewhat longer one in the case of Jews and correspondingly the mortality rate is lower, From this circumstance, we cannot conclude that Jews have a greater vitality, for instance. The statistical averages are strongly influenced by the mortality rates of infants and small children, which are lower in the case of Jews. However, this is essentially concomitant with the social milieu and the lower numbers of children of the Jews. Quite generally there exists a close connection between the number of children and the mortality ratios of infants and small children. A comparison of the age distribution, however, also shows a somewhat greater proportion of the highest age groups amongst the Jews. The cause of this must probably be seen in the fact that the Jews go to their physicians more frequently and sooner. Furthermore, they are afflicted by occupational injuries to a smaller extent.
The lower frequency of various infectious diseases amongst Jews must be explained as a result of the same factors, with the exception of tuberculosis, in the case of which a more profound cause is to be assumed. According to consistent statistical data concerning the occurrence of tuberculosis in Jews and non-Jews in various countries with various non-Jewish populations, and also taking into account the given social conditions, the results are consistent: In the case of Jews, the mortality from tuberculosis is a lower one, the course of the disease is slower and more favorable, less frequently do there come about exudative decomposition processes and more frequently there are found benign forms contained by the formation of connective tissue. It is well known that for the contracting of tuberculosis in a human being, and in particular for the course of the disease, an hereditary predisposition is of significantly contributing importance. On the basis of general epidemiological experiences, tuberculosis exhibits the character of an acute epidemic with a preponderantly rapid and grave course in the case of ethnic groups which come in contact with it for the first time. During the course of generations the sickness takes on more and more the character of a chronic, insidious ethnic epidemic. Those who are predisposed are killed off by the disease with an increased incidence, in large part before the end of their reproductive age. For that reason the number of those who are resistant increases more and more in the population. There comes about that which is called a selective resistance. The Jews are now the race which has been exposed longest of all the races to the conditions of urban life. For that reason this race has been subjected longest to the selection process just described. The result is a genuine racial characteristic.
From the field of internal illnesses the frequency of diabetes in Jews is best known. For that reason diabetes has even been designated as the "Jewish disease." Having diabetes and dying from it are about four times as frequent in the case of Jews as in non-Jews. Nutritional factors are of significance in the occurrence of diabetes. The decline of the disease during the famine years of the war and the postwar period is well known. A sufficient explanation for the difference between Jews and non-Jews is not furnished by that circumstance. The greater frequency of marriage of related persons in the case of Jews has been pointed out, by which recessive hereditary diseases appear more frequently. There is no doubt about the fact that bearers of rare recessive hereditary diseases are especially frequently the products of marriages between related persons. In this connection, however, diabetes is not a rare hereditary disease. In addition to the recessive hereditary process there is also the dominant one. For that reason I am inclined to assume that the hereditary tendency to diabetes occurs more frequently amongst Jews than amongst non-Jews.
Two further grave metabolic diseases, Gaucher’s disease and Niemann-Pick’s disease, in the case of which the metabolism of fatty substances is impaired, occur with greater frequency in Jews. A special form of grave feeble-mindedness, amaurotic idiocy, also belongs in the group of disturbances of the lipoid metabolism. The infantile form of this disease occurs predominantly in Jews from the East.
Diseases of the blood vessels, especially arteriosclerosis, are said to occur more frequently in Jews. As a result of the arteriosclerosis of certain leg vessels there occurs a disease which is known as intermittent limping. It has been observed especially frequently in Jews. Spontaneous gangrene, a gangrene of the limbs resulting from disturbances of the vessels, is also especially common in Jews.
The problem of race and cancer has frequently been worked on. A number of things which were originally viewed as racial difference have been explained differently when subjected to critical examination. Thus, much which was reported about differences between Jews and non-Jews should not be considered. No differences exist in the frequency of cancer. On the other hand, the places attacked by it are perhaps not the same in the case of individual races. There are consistent reports from numerous observers concerning the low frequency of cancer of the uterus in Jewesses.
In the national census of handicapped people of 1925 more blind and deaf-mute persons were enumerated amongst Jews than in the rest of the population. This difference is to be attributed principally to a greater frequency of hereditary blindness and deafness amongst Jews. A more exact differentiation on the basis of the particular causative hereditary diseases is not yet possible. The only certain observation is the more frequent occurrence of glaucoma in Jews. Astigmatism is also reputed to be more frequent in Jews.
All investigators agree on a greater frequency of nervous and mental diseases in the case of the Jews. The organic nervous diseases are quite scarce and a statistical comparison is difficult for that reason. According to various reports Parkinson’s disease (paralysis agitans) is especially common in Jews, while hereditary St. Vitus’ dance is supposed to occur less commonly. Organic tics and bilateral athetoses, as well as hemicranic and neuralgic diseases, appear more frequently in Jews. Special investigations have been concerned with the shaping of the clinical picture of paralysis. During these it was noticed that in the case of the Jews the cheerfully excited, manic conditions occurred more commonly. More frequent were also sensory delusions, hypochondria imaginations and symptoms of a sexual-erotic nature (Gutmann).
Schizophrenia is strikingly more frequent among Jews. According to statistics from Polish insane asylums, among insane Jews schizophrenia is twice as common as among insane Poles (Becker). Atypical patterns are quite frequently found amongst the Jewish schizophrenics. Several observers have found hysterical reactions in schizophrenics. According to another observation the schizophrenic form of the disease is supposed to be more common amongst Jews. Since it is a matter of a hereditary disease in the case of schizophrenia which comes about rather independently of external influences, the more frequent occurrence of the disease in Jews must be viewed as a racial characteristic.
Manic-depressive insanity is also found to be more frequent amongst Jews, but the difference between Jews and non-Jews is not as great as in the case of schizophrenia. Here, too, atypical clinical pictures with hysterical admixtures are more frequent. From the Munich clinic, Lange reports that the disease occurs more frequently in Jews before the twentieth year of life and that it takes a graver course. In the case of the melancholy disorders, hypochondriac illusions are of great importance, a grumbling, gross and dissatisfied behavior is more frequent and ideas of persecution and impoverishment play a considerable rôle, while guilt complexes play a lesser rôle. Frequent were self-reproaches about the family, the business and personal assets; ideas of religious shortcomings were completely lacking. In the case of the manic disorders, which relatively frequently occur amongst Jews, the disturbance of thinking very often went as far as a case of disintegration. There was often lacking the actually happy phase, in place of which there occurred vexed, gross dissatisfaction, with slander, quarreling, arrogant behavior and frequent paranoid ideas. Lange sees in his observations a relation to the normal dispositional characteristics of Jews: Their need for medical attention, anxiety, insufficient physical skill, preoccupation with profit, their lack of imagination (monotony of the clinical pictures), their critical attitude toward everything, the preference for extremes, the exaggerated expressive movements and, with regard to the lack of guilt complexes, the fact that the Jews are either orthodox or, indifferent with regard to religion.
From numerous statistics there are consistent reports about the scarcity of epilepsy amongst the European Jews. The attempt has been made to explain this fact by the likewise seldom occurrence of alcoholism in Jews. It was believed that alcoholism was an important factor in epilepsy. Today we view the connections between alcoholism and epilepsy differently inasmuch as we know that the most important cause of true epilepsy is a pathological hereditary predisposition. In most cases, too, serious and chronic alcoholism comes about on the basis of a hereditary psychopathic constitution. The concomitance of alcoholism and epilepsy in one family must therefore be sought, essentially, in an at least partial, equal or similar pathological hereditary predisposition. Hence, there appears to me to exist a connection between the less frequent occurrence of epilepsy and alcoholism in Jews. The causative pathological hereditary tendencies appear to be scarcer amongst them.
A comparison of the incidence of feeble-mindedness in two groups of human beings involves great difficulties. Very careful investigations were necessary in order to obtain usable statistics for the German ethnic groups. Various observers assume a greater frequency of congenital feeble-mindedness in the case of Jews in comparison with non-Jews. In particular, grave forms of feeble-mindedness appear to be more frequent in Jews. It is possibly a question of particular hereditary types (Schottky).
In general there are reports concerning the special frequency of psychopathy and neurasthenia in Jews. Buschan is of the opinion that the majority of Jews are neurasthenics and Ziemssen is of the opinion that "there is a neurotic character through the whole Jewish ethnic group" (according to Schottky). It is certainly no coincidence, but rather a result of a racial characteristic that psychoanalysis originates, in essence, with Jewish authors and that Freud has made sexuality, and Adler has made the drive for prestige and power the central aspect of their doctrines on neuroses. Hysterical phenomena are also supposed to be especially common in Jews.
Even if we observed a lower proportion of Jews amongst alcoholics, addiction to morphine and cocaine is found more frequently amongst them than in the case of non-Jews. In choice of the narcotic the psychological makeup is of considerable importance and its inheritability is quite characteristic: In families of alcoholics only alcoholism, and in the families of morphine addicts only morphinism is found to be clustered.
From 1849 to 1907 the frequency of suicide in Jews increased by sevenfold. While suicides were formerly less frequent amongst Jews than non-Jews, they are more frequent today. There has been an inclination to make emancipation, with its decline of religious restrictions, responsible for that fact. However, only persons with psychopathic and neurotic tendencies will react in such a manner to such a change in their external condition.
A typical difference betweens Jews and non-Jews is manifested in the kinds of criminal behavior. According to earlier statistics, the Jews in Germany were less frequently involved in punishable acts than the remaining population. Lenz views in this circumstance a confirmation of the rule that intelligence prevents a person from transgressions to a certain extent. He adds "that it keeps a person from getting caught to an even greater extent." A considerably lower incidence of crime is found amongst Jews in the case of bodily injury and larceny but they are sentenced far more than average for slander, fraud and forgery. In addition to social position and occupation, racial psychological differences are certainly of considerable importance here.
The characteristics which have just been discussed already lie on the border between the pathological and normal. In themselves, they throw light on the problem of intellectual traits and traits of character of Jews. If I were to give a detailed discussion of this topic I would be going beyond the limits of this paper. I am able to forego this all the more inasmuch as the intellectual nature of Jews, especially as it is manifested in outstanding representatives of Jewry, is the theme and content of numerous papers which were given, at our working meetings and are published in the two volumes [I and II] of the Forschungen zur Judenfrage (Studies on the Jewish Problem). I also refer to the exposition by Lenz in Menschliche Erblehre (Human Genetics) by Baur, Fischer and Lenz (4th edition, 1936, pp. 746 ff.).
This general and basic observation can be made: The Jews have preserved a rather high degree of uniformity, particularly in their intellectual traits and traits of character, and have not only kept a distance from their host populations at all times, but have accented their differences. The fact that they have maintained themselves as an ethnic group without a country and as a community in spite of dispersion throughout the world through two-millennia must be ascribed to their psychological nature in particular. The attempt has been made to portray the psychological characteristics of the Jews as a result of the milieu in which they live, grow up and are educated. Numerous Jewish authors are especially energetic in trying to deny the connection between race and culture. The basic resolution of this question has been made on the basis of modern genetic research on man: It can no longer be contested that the psychological characteristics in man, just as the physical ones, are essentially determined in their development by hereditary tendencies. The results of research on twins in particular have had in this case an elucidating and clarifying effect. [This, however, could not prevent a series of Jewish speakers at the last international congress for demographics in Paris in 1937 from ignoring these research results in order to stay in line with the prejudiced hypothesis of the environmental causation of all cultural achievements. The manner of delivery which characterized the German and Jewish speakers gave the best demonstration of the subject of "race and culture" to every attentive and objective observer!] The psychological differences between Germans and Jews are caused by a different hereditary makeup, i.e., by a different racial origin.
The racial characteristics (physical and mental) of the Jews of the present day are probably explainable to a considerable extent on the basis of the origin of the Jews from the geographical area of the Near Eastern and Oriental races. However, the present-day Jews are different from the ethnic groups now living in this area. The profound contrast between Arabs and Jews in Palestine also has a racial root! Jewry possesses a distinct racial nature which is found in no other groups of people and which therefore appears to justify our speaking of Jews as a race. Of course, we must keep clearly in mind that the Jews are not one of the races which we designate as "systemic races" because they form a group in the genetic system of mankind. Humanity, however, is in a constant state of development which leads to the formation of new races, i.e., to reproductive groups which are differentiated from other people by the common possession of certain genetic traits.
The Jews have "bred" their race themselves. This particular objective might have been a conscious one only amongst a few of their leaders. We can forego the discussion of that here. However, it is a fact that in most cases the Jews have reproduced themselves by strong inbreeding. The absorption of rather large groups of people of other races into Jewry has been a rare occurrence. Individual conversions to Judaism, for example as a result of marriage, have certainly occurred more frequently than is generally supposed. The absorption of individuals into Judaism did not take place haphazardly but were guided by a selective process. One need only think, for example, of how the choice of a marital partner was determined by social and occupational objectives in the peasantry, nobility and middle class and how the formation of groups of people is determined as a result of intellectual objectives by which people of a certain makeup are attracted. The occupational types are the best example of this. As a result, I believe that only people of a certain type feel attracted by Judaism and could decide on conversion to it, people in particular who felt related to Judaism on the basis of their intellectual and psychological makeup. (It may only seldom have been physical reasons.) in this sense, the element which was absorbed into Jewry was not "foreign."
In addition to this selection of admissions into Jewry, there are selective processes, perhaps even more important ones, to which Jewry has been subject for more than 2,000 years. The following environmental circumstances appear to me to be of special importance in the determining of the direction of the selective process:
1. For over 2,000 years Jews have been living far from the natural attachments to a certain region. Perhaps there were specific racial traits which led the Jews into the diaspora even in ancient times and caused them to live in cities. Even at that time the Jews must have been especially well adapted to urban life; otherwise he would not have been able to preserve himself and increase his numbers. Other races perish in the city, they cannot live without a close attachment to nature and they need a home, a piece of soil to which they feel attached.
2. The Jews prefer to be active in the commercial occupations, not as a result of an external compulsion but as a result of an inner nature; that has frequently been demonstrated. By selection of marital partners and the selective process involving life and reproduction tied in with occupation selection, an "enrichment" of such traits comes about and thus a stronger emphasis of the original character.
3. As a result of their Talmudic education, the Jews were kept at a purely formal, logical intellectual activity. A certain direction of education not only leaves its stamp on people because certain attributes develop while others are repressed, but it also influences the choice of an occupation and the social stratification. The kind of person who corresponds to the educational ideal is the more successful in life. With this, in turn, there is a reproductive selection.
4. A specific religious-ethnic idea of being a chosen people has constantly given Jewry an intellectual exclusivity, which reinforced the isolation from other peoples and favored the preservation of their own racial peculiarity.
By means of such selection processes, the intellectual type of the Jew in particular has been preserved and constantly shaped anew, while the physical type has remained less uniform. The effect of these selective processes has also become clear through the investigation of the sicknesses of the Jews: The selective resistance of the Jews to tuberculosis is a result of urban life, likewise the pathological hereditary tendencies to metabolic disturbances, blindness, deaf-muteness and above all nervous and mental diseases, since such hereditary tendencies are more frequently eradicated under the conditions of a natural rural life. The specific mentality of Jews has as its result the concentration of hereditary traits which, in turn, lead to the more frequent manifestation of psychopathic and neuropathic conditions and endogenous psychoses.
The Jew is the specific type of the urban human being, that is, of a human being who no longer has an inner connection with the natural foundations of life and who no longer lives from instinct or the subconscious, but rather only believes and views as his world that which he can grasp with his reason. In such a despiritualized world there is no room for faith, for genuine, unselfish, devoted love and for respect. There are also urban people of other races. However, do we not readily sense them as "Jewish?" It is not a coincidence that the people who have entered into marriages with Jews are quite preponderantly urban people.
The danger which Jewry meant for the German population was a double one:
1. By excessive racially foreign influence the preservation of the character of our people was threatened. The complete racial separation of Germans and Jews was an absolute necessity for that reason.
2. The excessive intellectually Jewish foreign influence sought to introduce principles of living and selection which were favorable for the preservation of Jewry, but would have meant the decline of our people. For that reason the racial separation of Germans and Jews has the national separation as a requisite.