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Ashkenazi Jews in Israel

Updated: 2017-07-31T13:37Z
Ashkenazi Jews in Israel
Total population
(2.8 million (full or partial Ashkenazi Jewish descent)[1][2])
Regions with significant populations
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and many other places
Hebrew (Main language for all generations);
Older generation: Yiddish language and other languages like Russian language, English language, German language, Romanian language, Ukrainian language, Hungarian language, Dutch language, Polish language, Czech language, Slovak language, Lithuanian language, French language, Danish language, Swedish language

Ashkenazi Jews in Israel refers to immigrants and descendants of Ashkenazi Jews, who now reside within the state of Israel, in the modern sense also referring to Israeli Jewish adherents of the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition. They number 2.8 million (full or partial Ashkenazi Jewish descent)[1][2] and constitute one of the largest Jewish subethnic communities in Israel, in line with Mizrahi Jews and Sephardi Jews.

Ashkenazi Jews descended from local Jewish communities of the Central and Eastern Europe, as opposed to those from Middle East and North Africa, Africa and other places.


In Israel, the term Ashkenazi is now used in a manner unrelated to its original meaning, often applied to all Jews who settled in Europe and sometimes including 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 Sephardi/Mizrahi, and partly because many do not see such historic markers as relevant to their life experiences as Jews.[3]

The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel is an honored leadership role given to a respected Ashkenazi rabbi. The Chief Rabbi may make determinations regarding matters of halakha that affect the public and this position also has political overtones. Some religiously affiliated Ashkenazi Jews in Israel may be 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 that 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.[4]

People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent constitute around 47.5% of Israeli Jews (and therefore 35–36% of Israelis).[2] They have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics[5] 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".[6] 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.[7]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b "Ashkenazi Jews". The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2009, CBS. "Table 2.24 – Jews, by country of origin and age" (PDF). Retrieved 22 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Meyers, Nechemia (12 July 1997). "Are Israel's Marriage Laws 'Archaic and Irrelevant'?". Jewish News Weekly. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "Field Listing - Legislative Branch". World Fact Book. CIA. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  5. ^ As of 2013, every President of Israel since the country's foundation in 1948 has been an Ashkenazi Jew
  6. ^ Liphshiz, Cnaan (9 May 2008). "Melting pot' approach in the army was a mistake, says IDF absorption head". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Yitzhaki, Shlomo and Schechtman, EdnaThe "Melting Pot": A Success Story? Journal of Economic Inequality, Vol; 7, No. 2, June 2009, pp. 137–51. Earlier version by Schechtman, Edna and Yitzhaki, Shlomo Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Working Paper No. 32, Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, Nov. 2007, i + 30 pp.
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