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Introduction

The Jewish Diaspora and Israel, cont.


A cantor reading from...



The Austrian-Jewish playwright
and novelist...



Helena Rubenstein...



Russian Jews arriving at
Ben Gurion Airport...

Despite their enforced separateness, Jewish communities in the Diaspora adopt many customs of the surrounding cultures. Integrating non-Jews into the community through marriage is common practice. Many also convert to Christianity or Islam. As a result, Jews in the Diaspora usually are members of two cultures (Jewish and Arabic, for example) and also resemble outwardly the surrounding population.

Jewish communities in Moslem countries, in Spain and Portugal, prosper culturally and economically, despite some restrictions. Jews in Christian Europe are subject to oppression, persecution and sporadic expulsions alternating with periods of relative peace and prosperity. Sephardim and Ashkenasim develop different customs and religious practices over the centuries.

With emancipation, the granting of equal rights, and the diminishing role of religion, Jews begin to integrate fully into the societies they have lived in for hundreds of years. For many, Jewishness becomes a secular and national identity. In the 19th century, Zionism, a Jewish national movement, proposes a return to Israel and the re-establishment of a Jewish state. In 1948 this new state is founded. Millions of Jews emigrate to Israel, but a majority of the Jewish population continues to live in the Diaspora.

Table: Countries with more than 10,000 Jewish citizens in 1991.
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