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Ashkenazi Jews in Israel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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, Russian and other languages of countries that Ashkenazi Jews came from

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 ethnic divisions in Israel, in line with Mizrahi Jews and Sephardi Jews.

Ashkenazi Jews are Jews whose ancestors had settled in Central and Eastern Europe, as opposed to those who remained in the Middle East and North Africa region, or settled in 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[citation needed] 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]

In 2018, 31.8% of Israeli Jews self-identified as Ashkenazi, in addition to 12.4% being immigrants from the former USSR, a majority of whom self-identify as Ashkenazi.[5] They have played a prominent role in the economy, media, and politics[6] 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".[7] 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.[8]

Political trends

The majority of Ashkenazim in Israel today tend to vote for left-wing and centrist parties, favoring especially Blue and White (political alliance), while other Jewish subdivisions such as Mizrahi Jews in Israel tend to favor more right-wing parties such as Likud, with the distinction sharpening since 1980.[9] Ashkenazi prominence on the left has historically been associated with socialist ideals that had emerged in Central Europe and the kibbutz and Labor Zionist movements, while Mizrahim, as they rose in society and they developed their political ideals, often rejected ideologies they associated with an "Ashkenazi elite", with the flood of Mizrahim into the ranks of Likud beginning as many enthusiastically Menachem Begin who made overtures to the community despite not being a Mizrahi himself.[10] Although these tensions were initially based on economic rivalries, the distinction remained strong even as Mizrahim increasingly moved up the socioeconomic latter around 1990, entering the middle class, and the disparity between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim diminished (but did not completely disappear), with Mizrahi political expression becoming increasingly linked to the Likud and Shas parties; Shas was founded as a party to represent Mizrahim while Likud, the largest right-wing party, in Israel became increasingly influenced by Mizrahi political articulation, with the Mizrahi middle class' political coming-of-age held by political science commentators to be embodied by the rise of Mizrahi Likud politicians such as Moshe Kahlon[11] and Miri Regev.[12] The Ashkenazi vote has, aside from electorally limited majority-Ashkenazi ultra-religious parties such as Habayit Hayehudi and UTJ, long been associated with secularism and social liberalism and Ashkenazi Israelis are overall less devout, more socially liberal, and have more favorable opinions towards improving relations with Arab peoples, and greater opposition to settlements in the West Bank, than Israelis of Sephardic and Mizrahi extraction.[13] Today, the most influential party among Ashkenazi Israelis appears to be Blue and White (political alliance).[9]

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 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. ^
  6. ^ As of 2013, every President of Israel since the country's foundation in 1948 has been an Ashkenazi Jew
  7. ^ Liphshiz, Cnaan (9 May 2008). "Melting pot' approach in the army was a mistake, says IDF absorption head". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  8. ^ Yitzhaki, Shlomo and Schechtman, Edna The "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.
  9. ^ a b Aron Heller (4 April 2015). "How ethnic tensions helped fuel Netanyahu's victory". Times of Israel.
  10. ^ Ian Buruma (22 October 2003). "What became of the Israeli left?". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Nissim Leon (January 2015). "Moshe Kahlon and the Politics of the Mizrahi Middle Class in Israel" (PDF). Bar-Ilan University and Institute of Israel Studies, University of Maryland. Retrieved 14 June 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Ruth Margalit (October 20, 2016). "Miri Regev's Culture War". New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  13. ^ Lidia Averbukh (April 2017). "Israel on the Road to the Orient?: The Cultural and Political Rise of the Mizrahim" (PDF). German Institute for International and Security Affairs: 3–4. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
This page was last edited on 29 April 2020, at 00:49
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