Zionism, Judaism, Jews and Jewish ethnic divisions
Zionism is not Judaism. Zionism has for its purpose to secure in Palestine, a legally assured home for the Jew. See. What is Zionism?
Judaism teaches us how to live right, to eat right, to treat our neighbour right, and how to be clean, pure and holy. "Ye shall be
holy, for I (The Lord) am holy." Judaism is not confined to rabbis only, nor is it confined to the synagogue or temple. It is not intended for one or two days in the year only. But Judaism begins with the Jew from the cradle and it accompanies him through
life, unto the grave.
Judaism is not a nation or race. It is a religion, and it is this religion that forms the central element of the Jewish culture that
binds Jews together as a nation. Jews are members of this religion.
Judaism is also made up of several subgroups with different cultures and traditions.The differences have more to do with how
liberally or progressively traditions and commandments are observed.
It is important to note that Messianic Judaism is not a branch of Judaism (they are an Evangelical Christian group: They are
not recognized by any branch). More than half of all Israelis describe themselves as Hiloni (secular). About 15-20 percent
describe themselves as Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) or Dati (Orthodox). The rest describe themselves as Masorti (traditionally
observant, but not as dogmatic as the Orthodox).
For more information on the Kabbalah. See article. The Kabbalah and what it means.
Different Ways To Observe Judaism
Hasidic or Hasidism
Other ultra-Orthodox sects include the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jews, Satmar Hasidic Jews and the Neturei Karta sect. The Satmar Hasidic and Neturei Karta are also anti-Zionist sects.
In the case of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sects, you have tightly knit groups which want to remain insular, separate, and isolated from the larger community. They do not want integration and they do not want to assimilate. Some want almost no part of the secular world. And these sects are sometimes in conflict with each other over various issues.
The Haredi (pl. Haredim) is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism and so is the Neturei Karta. This ultra-orthodox movement believes it is a sin, a rebellion against God, for Jews to establish a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. And therefore opposes Zionism.They believe that the restoration of the true Land of Israel to the Jews should only happen with the coming
of the Messiah. They do not recognize the current State of Israel. The Satmar Hasidim (Chasidim) - A Hasidic movement
shares this sentiment.
Other sub-groups within Orthodox Judaism: Modern Orthodox Liberal, Modern Orthodox Machmir, Yeshivish Modern,Yeshivish
Black Hat, Hassidish, Carlebachian, Shomer Mitzvot.
And then there is Modern Orthodox Judaism.
Orthodox Jews believe:
God gave Moses the Torah (Written and Oral). The 613 commandments are forever binding.The strict observance of laws.
Orthodox Jews strictly observe halakhah (Jewish Law). Modern orthodoxy integrates with modern society. Orthodoxy is the
only movement that is formally and legally recognized in Israel.
Believes the Torah came from God.
Believes the translations contain a human component.
Accepts Jewish law, but believes it should adapt.
Torah was written by humans in combination with God.
Does not accept the binding nature of Jewish Law.
Still retains values and ethics of Judaism.
Believes Judaism is an evolving civilization.
Doesn't believe a personified deity is active in history.
Doesn't believe that God chose the Jewish people.
Jewish law isn't binding, but observed.
Non theistic alternative in Jewish life.
Creates a Jewish lifestyle free from supernatural authority.
Believes in achieving dignity and self-esteem.
Believes in reviving the secular roots of Judaism.
Secular Humanist Judaism believes in cultural Judaism without belief in God or traditional observance.
It ordains rabbis and has temples for services.
The Karaites or Annanim believe the Mishna and Talmud were written by people and not by God, therefore they contain
human differences of opinion. Whereas the Torah contains God's word, and is based on what is written in the Torah we can
learn how to conduct our lives today and into the future, just as we have in the past.
Jews and Jewish ethnic divisions
Who is a Jew? Jews themselves have a wide range of opinions and beliefs about what it means to be a Jew and what defines
being Jewish. Jews are not considered a race but as a nation, as a people, as an etnicity. However, in real terms Jews are
simply no single Jewish ethnicity. Several different and distinctly Jewish cultures and ethnicities have developed over the
millennia in Diaspora lands.
Jewish ethnic divisions. There are distinctive ethnic divisions among Jews : There are Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Mizrahim,
Beta Yisrael, Bene Ephraim, Lemba, the Cochin, and many other Jewish ethnic groups.that are different as to cultural
practices and foods, but it is the faith and covenant that binds them all together as Klal Yisrael.
The mainstream ethnic divisions
The Mizrachi (Mizrahi) Jews, the Sephardim or Sephardic Jews and the Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi Jews.
The Mizrachi (Mizrahi) Jews. Mizrahi means "Eastern"
Language: Hebrew and Arabic (Judeo-Arabic languages).
They are descendants from Jews who have been in the land since ancient times or who were forced out of Arab countries
(Lebanon, Syria, East Asia, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt) after Israel was founded. Iran has the largest population of Mizrahi Jews
after Israel in middle-east.
There is also a religious Zionist Organization called the "Mizrachi." It was founded in 1902 in Vilnius by Rav Yitzchak Yaacov Reines. It had a trade union, Hapoel HaMizrachi. The ideology of the Mizrachi is based on the motto of “Am Yisrael B’Eretz
Israel al pi Torat Israel – the Jewish people in the Land of Israel living according to the Torah of Israel”. Today Mizrachi is best represented by the Religious Zionist and Modern Orthodox movements in Israel and throughout the world. The Mizrachi youth movement is called "Bnei Akiva" and the two Mizrachi women organisations, Emunah and AMIT. The Mizrachi movement's
largest settlement is the “Religious Moshav Movement“. The World Mizrachi movement based in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)
is active in 37 countries throughout the world.
The Sephardim or Sephardic Jews. (The Oriental) Sephardic means "Spanish"
Language: Hebrew and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish).
The Sephardim were those Jews who observe the Spanish and Portuguese rite. They were the inheritors of the language of
Judea and of the Jewish schools which flourished in Babylonia after the dispersion.
The Jews of north Africa, the southern European countries and many of those in Palestine followed this rite. All Sephardim
in Europe came from Spain and Portugal. Jews in Turkey were all descendants of the Jews that were expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1496. It was also the beginning of a larger immigration into the Netherlands. Amsterdam was soon
called "the small Jerusalem." But these Spanish and Portuguese Jews were not the only Jewish race in Amsterdam. There
were German Jews already settled there. In 1675, a number of Polish Jews who have been driven out of their own country by
the Cossacks, joined them. All German speaking Jews from the Atlantic to the Dardanelles came from Germany from and
after 1196 - 1600 A.D., when they were driven from their second homes, to all the countries east of Germany. On the very
next day following August 2, 1496, when the Jewish exiles left Spain,a small number of Jews (at least five persons) among
them Luis de Torres accompanied Columbus on his first voyage. Jews settled in Spanish Mexico and Central America long
before they settled in the United States. In 1654 two Hebrews from West Indies arrived in New Amsterdam (New York), and
in 1655 a score more from Brazil. More came from Holland.
After being expeled from Spain in 1492, the Sephardim became the wealthiest and the most influential people in the world, controlling as they did, the larger part of the Mediterranean.
For the last centuries they have diminished steadily in numbers while the Ashkenazim have increased until now they out-
number the other sect. The greater number of Jews in the United States follow the Ashkenazim rite.
The Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi Jews. Ashkenazi means "German"
Language: Hebrew and Yiddish (Judeo-German)
The Ashkenazim were the German Jews who took their religious rites and language from the Jews of Galilee. A large colony
of Jews was removed from Galilee into and over Europe. These Jews became the founders of the great Jewish race of the
north, which spread over all of Germany, Poland, Hungary and Russia. Ashkenazi Jews is the world's largest Jewish popu-
lation followed by the Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews
Why are they called Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi?
Ashkenaz, the name of a tribe descended from one of the sons of Gomer, the son of Japhet (Gen 10:3), originally inhabiting
the part of Asia Minor in the vicinity of Armenia, and associated with Ararat and Minni (a portian of Armenia) in Jer 51:27);
found later in the west and north of Asia Minor. They have been identified with the Scandinavians; also with the Polish
and German Jews, who are as a matter of fact, called Ashkenazim, to distinguish them from the Sephardim,
or Spanish and Portuguese Jews.
Another source claims: "The Jews of Ashkenaz" are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along
the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north.
In the rabbinic literature, the kingdom of Ashkenaz was first associated with the Scythian region, then later with the Slavic territories, and, from the 11th century onwards, with northern Europe and Germany.
The Jews living in these regions associated with Ashkenaz's kingdom thus came to call themselves the Ashkenazi. Later,
Jews from Western and Central Europe also came to be called Ashkenazi because the main centers of Jewish learning
were located in Germany.
Many Ashkenazi Jews later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in non German-speaking areas, including
Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and elsewhere between the 11th and 19th
centuries. Source. Wikipedia.
The theory that the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of the non-Semitic converted Khazars was advocated
by various racial theorists and antisemitic sources in the late-19th and 20th centuries, especially following the publication of
Arthur Koestler's The Thirteenth Tribe. Despite recent genetic evidence to the contrary, and a lack of any real mainstream
scholarly support, this belief is still popular among antisemites.
The theory that the Ashkenazim are descendants of the Khazar (Chazar) Empire is all pure speculation, and
most of it has been disproven.
Khazars - an old semi-nomadic people of Turco-Finnish origin, who formed a kingdom in S.Russia (c.190 - 1020 A.D.).
In their later history they figure as a commercial people; their principle cities were Itil, Sarkel and Semender. Their sovereign
and many nobles and others embraced Judaism in 740 A.D. Their power was largely broken by the Russians under Svyatoslav (965 - 969), and finally by the Byzantines and Russians combined (1016).
It is certain that the dominant people in southern Russia were the Khazars whose ethnographical relationships are doubtful,
but who have been identified with the Slavs. The earliest mention of Slavs in the basin of the Dnieper is to be found in Arabic
writers near the close of the ninth century. On the other hand, Prince Kropotkine pronounces it certain that as early as the
eighth century, and probably still earlier, a stream of Slavonian colonization, advancing. He also deems it probable that a
second and northern Slavonian stream was thrown back from the Elbe on and past the basin of the Vistula. It is certain that
in the ninth century we find three branches of the Slavonian stem settled in European Russia, the so called Great Russians
(whose dialect has become national language) occupying central Russia; the Malo-Russians or Little Russians (Ukranians), dwelling in the southwest, and the White Russians, posted on the eastern border of Lithuania. On the north and east were
Finns, on the southeast Turkish peoples, on the south the Khazars and on the west the Letts.
A very interesting historical document was left by Hasdai in the form of his correspondence with the Jewish King of the Khazars. For hundreds of years, the Khazars were a mighty people who lived on the Steppes between the Don and Volga Rivers. Their
realm stretched westward as far as Kiev. The kings of the Khazars were powerful rulers who intermarried with the families of the Byzantian and Arabic monarchies. It is not clear when the Khazars decided to give up their heathen ways and accept Judaism
as their faith. The Khazar Jewish kingdom captured the imagination of the Jewish people of those days. Hasdai was eager to
learn more about them, for he had only scant reports of the Khazar kingdom which he received through diplomatic channels.
Hasdai decided to make personal contact with them. In those days distance made it very difficult to make or maintain contact
with remote countries, and being that the Khazar kingdom was at the easternmost end of Europe, it seemed almost an impos-
Hasdai, however, was a man of determination. He addressed an affectionate letter in Hebrew to Joseph, the King of the Khazars, and sent it to him with a special emissary, Isaac ben Nathan. When Isaac reached Constantinople, he was detained by the Byzantian authorities, who feared a direct alliance between Spain and the Khazars. On the pretext that the roads were not safe, Hasdai's emissary did not obtain the facilities to continue his journey to the capital of the Khazars.
Hasdai was not discouraged. He sent another emissary, Isaac ben Eliezer, but this time by way of Hungary and Russia.
Aided by the Jews of those countries, Hasdai's second emissary made his way to Itil, and delivered Hasdai's warm greetings
King Joseph of the Khazars replied in Hebrew, answering all of Hasdai's questions concerning the history of the Khazars and
their acceptance of Judaism. King Joseph told him how his ancestor, Bulan, decided to give up his heathen beliefs in order to accept one of the three leading faiths, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. King Bulan then arranged for theologians of each of the
three faiths to participate in a debate in his presence, in which each of them was to prove why his faith was the true one. When
the debate was over, Bulan was convinced that the Jewish faith was the true faith; and he, together with his entire family, and
four thousand Khazar nobles, formally accepted Judaism. Gradually, the majority of the Khazars followed the example of their
king, and accepted the Jewish faith.
Unfortunately, about the time when Hasdai's letter reached King Joseph (about 4710), dark clouds appeared on the horizon
of the Khazar kingdom. The Russian and Byzantian rulers combined to destroy the Jewish kingdom of the Khazars, and about
15 years later, Sviatoslav of Russia defeated the Khazars and devastated their land, including their capital of Itil. Nevertheless,
the Khazars continued to play an important part in that section of the world for another century. Thereafter, their fortunes waned altogether, until their fate became unknown. The source of the story is from the book "Sefer HaQabbala" written by Abraham
ibn Daud. There lived in Spain a great Jewish scholar and statesman, called Hasdai ibn Shaprut. He was born in Jaen, Spain,
The Karaim Jews were Khazars?
The Karaim Jews in the early 1900's numbered 3000 or 4000 and lived principally in the Crimea. They speak a Tartar language among themselves, and etnologically are much more like Tartars than Semites.
Their own legends permit the assumption that they were Khazars and were converted to Judaism in the eighth
century. Their form of Judaism differs from that of the more Orthodox Russian Jews in rejecting the Talmud and traditional
theology altogether and confining itself strictly to the Mosaic revelation. They did'nt consider the disciples of the Talmud
were Jews at all. It has been a favourite amusement with the Russians for generations to pretend the greatest admiration
and affection for this obscure little tribe.
The Jews are by no means of unmixed descent. The proselytes of old times became part of the nation, a whole kingdom in
the historic case of the Khazars turning to Judaism at once. The difference even in modern times between the Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese Jews) and Ashkenazim (Jews of Germany and Poland) is great. But in spite of differences the
Sephardim are no more thorough Jews than the Ashkenazim. In fact Israel is much less the offspring of a race than the work
The Jews of Yemen are few in number, but they represent the purely oriental sect of the Jews. The Jewish colonies in India
and China are of the Yemen sect.
Jewish people in the world in the year 1900
The largest Jewish congregations in the world then were in Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin and New York; London, Paris, Amsterdam
and Chicago were numerically second to these cities. There were in those cities less than a million Jewish inhabitants. Half
the number of all Jews in the world were in Russia. The next largest of them in Austria-Hungary and Germany. 60% of all
those Jews spoke German or German dialect.
The next largest of them spoke English. The smallest portion of them spoke a Spanish dialect, especially in the Orient and
the Sephardim of Europe. French, Italian and Arabic came last. The native Jews of India spoke the Marathi dialect. Hebrew
was spoken among learned Jews only. There were about 8,000,000 Jews in the world, somewhat more than the number in
Palestine at the time of Christ. According to a report there were 3,000,000 Jews in Russia, 1,644,000 in Austria, 562,000
in Germany, 105,000 in Turkey, 63,000 in France, and 92,000 in Great Britain.
Return to Israel (Aliyah) before Israeli independence
Large scale immigration to Eretz Israel ("Eretz Yisrael" - Land of Israel) and later called "Israel" began in 1882. According
to Jewish tradition, returning to the Land of Israel is an ascent (Aliyah - à l'alya in Hebrew).
Aliyah is an important Jewish cultural concept and a fundamental component of Zionism. It is enshrined in Israel's Law of
Return. In Zionist history, the different waves of aliyah (return to Eretz Yisrael) started with the arrival of the Biluim from
Russia in 1882 (1882 - 1903) followed by the second Aliyah 1904 - 1914 (Jews from Russia and Yemen), the third 1919 - 1924 (Jews from Russia), the fourth 1924 - 1932 (Jews from Poland and Hungary), and the fifth 1933 - 1939 (Jews from Germany).
By 1910 Jews were rapidly coming into their own. This holy city then contained more than 60 000 Jews, and they formed over
two thirds of the whole polpulation. In the main there were 3 different classes - the Ashkenazim made up of Jews from Russia, Poland, Austria and Germany. Their common language, Yiddish. The second class was the Sephardim. They were Spanish
and Portuguese Jews. The third class was the eastern Jews, made up of Israelites from Syria, Persia, Arabia and central
When the children of Israel return to their own land it will be to possess and occupy all that was promised
Immigration to Israel
Eligibility factors for making Aliyah were initially established on the 5th day of the month of Iyar, 5708, May 14, 1948, upon declaring the founding of Israel as the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, David Ben Gurion appealed to world Jewry, saying,
“We call upon the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to unite with us in our homeland by making aliyah, by building the
land, and by taking part in the momentous undertaking of the redemption of the Jewish people, which has been the dream of generations.
Aliyah Information explores the process leading towards the journey of a lifetime, a return to Israel.
Explore the three steps starting with Pre Aliyah (Stage 1), which leads to arriving on Aliyah (Stage 2), before ultimately
A.D 1917. Ottoman Turks defeated - The British takes control of Palestine
Certainly Palestine was at the beginning of a new era. And although there were many difficulties in plain sight, this new era
was promising. It was the most interesting situation that was being worked out under our very eyes. Palestine is indeed the "Promised Land." World War I started in 1914 and ended in 1918. During this war the allied forces under British General
Allenby defeated the Ottoman forces and occupied Palestine. British Mandate for Palestine was created in 1920 - 2 and
coming into force in 1923. British civil administration in Palestine operated from 1920 until 1948. The Balfour Declaration -
On 2 November1917 British Secretary of State Balfour pledges British support for "a Jewish national home in Palestine."
HOME and not a STATE. However, in private, many British officials agreed with the interpretation of the Zionists that a state
would be established when a Jewish majority was achieved. The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into the Man-
date for Palestine.
The Zionist Commission was formed in March 1918 and was active in promoting Zionist objectives in Palestine.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann was president of the commission and M.M. Ussishkin chairman of the commission to Palestine.
The Zionist Commission received official recognition in 1922 as representative of the Palestinian Jewish community.
1919, 27 January - 10 February First Palestinian National Congress in Jerusalem sent a memorandum to Paris Peace Con-
ference rejecting the Balfour Declaration and demanding independence. A plan to make ancient Jerusalem the most attractive
and prosperous city was already in process of execution. Under the scheme the incomparable features of the ancient city
would be preserved absolutely intact, while around it would be built a modern city of the American type. The Zionist Commis-
sion had general control of the work of rebuilding Jerusalem. And not only Jerusalem, but also Jaffa, Haifa and other towns.
Palestine established as a home for the Jews
In 1920, there was rejoicing in all the Jewish centers of New York over the action of the San Remo conference in establishing Palestine as a home for the Jews under British protection. The action of the San Remo conference was the fulfillment of a long awaited hope. Brave young women worked side by side in rebuilding Palestine. A new movement had been started among
certain elements in the Arab population to begin a series of attacks on all Jewish colonies and city settlements, such as
occured at Jaffa and vicinity when several people were killed or wounded. The new riot wave follows the failure of the Arab
delegation in London to obtain any concessions from the British government for any changes in its pro-Zionist policy.
"Zionism, as a political movement has ended," said Mr. Cohen on that day.
"With the creation of a national Jewish home its work now is the development of Palestine and
the bringing there of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. This development will be largely
Buying back the land and restore the desolate land
"Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the
villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of
the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD." Jer 32:44.NIV.
"And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste
and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced and are inhabited." Ezek 36: 34, 35.
"And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities,
and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also
make gardens, and eat the fruit of them." Amos 9: 14.
1920, Zion was a barren desolate land. Land in general was arid, deforested and in many parts malaria infested. Ways and
means were proposed for transforming this barren, desolate land into a garden country - a land flowing with milk and honey.