Orgination and Diffusion

Origin and History

The hearth, or origin, of Judaism is dated back to Abraham (formerly Abram) when he made a covenant with God.  This covenant promised the his people, later know as the Israelites, the land of Canaan.  After many years, the Israelites finally claimed the land and called it their own.  There were three patriarch type people: Abraham, his son Isaac, and his son Jacob (later known as Israel) who had twelve sons.  These sons would later be the twelve tribes and populate the land.  But due to famine where Jacob and his sons lived, they had to move to Egypt where there was food.  After many years, Jacob’s family posed a threat to the Pharoah due to their large number which led to them being enslaved.  Often throughout history, the people of Israel find themselves under bondage by some power or another, then end up being free again, only to wind up under some other power.  One of these times of bondage was under Egypt.  The Israelites were slaves of Egyptians but ultimately became free, after intervention of God and Moses, which led to the Exodus (movement of the people).  This is about the time when Moses received the 10 commandments for the Israelites to follow.

The origin of the designation, Orthodox Judaism, is specifically due to the Reform Judaism movement.  Around the time of the French Revolution, many Jews divided into a different and new sect, or movement, called the Reform movement.  The Jews who did not change their ways from previous tradition and kept emphasis on rituals, are now known as Orthodox Jews.

The main sects of Judaism are Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Hasidic, and Kabbalah.  Within the Orthodox sect, there are two more known as Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) and Modern Orthodox.  Orthodox Jews beliefs and practices are listed on “Beliefs and Practices” page, but they basically live their lives according to the direction from and traditions of the sacred texts, such as the Torah.  The difference between Haredi and modern orthodox is well explained by Michael Kress from “The State of Orthodox Judaism Today”

The Orthodox world often divides into two major categories, generally referred to as haredi (or sometimes, ultra-Orthodox) and centrist, or modern, Orthodox. But in recent years, the line between haredi and Orthodox has blurred. Many Modern Orthodox Jews are increasingly stringent in their adherence to Jewish law and express a growing sense of alienation from the larger, secular culture. Some scholars have even referred to the trend as the “haredization” of Orthodoxy, and some believe that Modern Orthodoxy is essentially dead.


Distribution and Diffusion

jewish map


The world population of Jews is 13 to 14 million people.  A little over 40% live in Israel and a little under 40% live in North America.  The population of Jews in America is most highly concentrated in New England and other clusters in Southern California and Florida.  The distribution of Jews used to be primarily of persecution and forced migration.  Today Jews are scattered, or diaspora, due to historical reasons of persecuted still.  Jews today have a higher chance of voluntarily migrating than in previous times in history.

Diffusion of Jewish People: