Jewish Genealogy

When an ethnic group are unified by a common religious bond, they also share a history, traditions, language and customs. This is the main characteristic of the Jewish people when looking at Jewish genealogy. The religion of Judaism is the adhere to this ethnic community. The numerous traits and customs have made the Jewish culture a way of life and practiced by the Jews all around the world.

Over the centuries the Jewish population has not been geographically united. There were Ashkenazi Jews in Europe, Sephardim Jews in Spain, Turkey and North Africa, Mizrahi Jews in the Middle East region, Cochin Jews of South Asia and Kaifeng Jews of China, plus numerous other smaller ethnic divisions, a key annotation in Jewish genealogy. The greatest number, 92 percent of the world’s Jewish population, was Ashkenazi in origin, including the vast majority of European and of English-speaking Jews.

With Jews scattered in many different locations over hundreds of years, there is no one common characteristic to identify a Jew from a non-Jew. It is the combination of their faith of Judaism and its traditions incorporated into daily lives that is imperative to note in Jewish genealogy.

In languages the traditional Jewish forms have been Hebrew and Yiddish. A secondary language would be of the region a Jewish community lived in, such as The Netherlands, it would be Dutch.

Jewish secular culture is often strongly influenced by moral beliefs deriving from the Jewish scriptures and tradition. Their occupational skills have been in business, finance and banking. In the last couple of centuries, more have been in higher education institutions and have become very strong in the academics; especially in the sciences. Known over the years for good reasoning ability, the Jews have excelled. Many known authors and artists are Jewish from different parts of the world.

Jews are bound by a set of dietary laws called kashrus. It forbids the consumption of pork and shellfish, as well as the consumption of both meat and milk products at the same meal. Not all Jews observe these rules, it will vary based on regions. In nearly all Jewish celebrations, food is a vital aspect. The Sabbath, observed on Saturday, is ushered in on Friday evening with a family meal including an egg bread called challah. At the Jewish New Year the challah is baked in a circle, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life.

Family is very important. The nuclear family is the basic, but grandparents are also included in the living arrangements of the family.

Enjoyment comes from music and dance. Jewish dance has long been used by the people as a medium for the expression of joy and other communal emotions.

With years of oppression and persecution of ethnic Jews around the world, there may be some degree of being worried, depressed and fretting over life’s problems.

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