Global dispersion of jews: Determinants and consequences

Sergio Della Pergola, Ira M Sheskin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Jews and geography have been inextricably related for millennia. We examine changes in the geographic distribution of Jews at different geographic scales, from worldwide to intra-urban. The chapter relies on data from surveys of the American Jewish population, the Israeli census, and other sources about issues of migration, demography, and religiosity. Being Jewish is both a religion and an ethnicity, which complicates enumeration efforts since there is no widely accepted definition of who is a Jew and who is not. We focus on the U.S. and Israel, which account for over 80 % of the worlds 14 million Jews. Mass migration of Jews to the U.S., the Holocaust, creation of the State of Israel, and mass migration from the Arab and Muslim world to Israel significantly changed the geographic distribution. Migration of Jews to the U.S. occurred during four periods: the Sephardic Migration (1654“1820); the German Migration (1820–1880); the Eastern European Migration (1880–1920s); and the Modern Period of Migration (1930s to the present). A major shift has occurred away from the Northeast to the South and West since WWII. The Jewish population of Israel is composed almost entirely of immigrants and their descendants. In 1951, after mass immigration following Israels independence, three-quarters were foreign-born and about half had lived in the country for 5 years or less. The share of Israeli-born in the Jewish population rose from 47 % in 1972 to 71 % in 2010 “ after absorbing more than 1.3 million new immigrants. Jews remain a highly urbanized population; more than half live in five metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv, New York, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and Haifa. U.S. Jews have remained a clustered population even as they suburbanized after WWII.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Changing World Religion Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9789401793766, 9789401793759
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • American Jews
  • International migration
  • Israel
  • Jewish neighborhoods
  • Jewish population
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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