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The Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים, ISO 259-2: Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation: [jehuˈdim]) are an ethnoreligious group and people whose traditional religion is Judaism and whose members are successors, through descent or conversion, of the ancient Hebrews or Israelites. Jewish ethnicity, religion and community are highly interrelated, as Judaism is an ethnic religion, although its observance varies from strict to none. The term "Jew" can encompass both individuals born into the community but not actively practicing the religion, as well as converts to Judaism.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Israel (including occupied territories)||6,905,000–7,401,000|
|Related ethnic groups|
Jews trace their origins to the Israelites, a people that emerged from within the Canaanite population to establish the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Judaism emerged from Yahwism, the religion of the Israelites, by the late 6th century BCE, with a theology considered by religious Jews to be the expression of a covenant with God established with the Israelites, their ancestors. The Babylonian captivity of Judahites following their kingdom's destruction, the movement of Jewish groups around the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic period, and subsequent periods of conflict and violent dispersion, such as the Jewish–Roman wars, gave rise to the Jewish diaspora. The Jewish diaspora is a wide dispersion of Jewish communities across the world that have maintained their sense of Jewish history, identity and culture.
In the following millennia, Jewish diaspora communities coalesced into three major ethnic subdivisions according to where their ancestors settled: the Ashkenazim (Central and Eastern Europe), the Sephardim (initially in the Iberian Peninsula), and the Mizrahim (Middle East and North Africa). Prior to World War II, the global Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million, representing around 0.7 percent of the world population at that time. During World War II, approximately 6 million Jews throughout Europe were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Since then, the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2021[update], was estimated to be at 15.2–19.9 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank, comprising less than 0.2 percent of the total world population. The modern State of Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population.
Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, both historically and in modern times, including in science and technology, philosophy, ethics, literature, governance, business, art, music, comedy, theatre, cinema, architecture, food, medicine, and religion. Jews wrote the Bible, founded Christianity, and had an indirect but profound influence on Islam. In these ways, Jews have also played a significant role in the development of Western culture.