The Jewish world is not the place it used to be. The truth is that the Jewish world has always been in flux: generations have come and gone but there change has been a constant throughout our history. The last two millennia and more of Jewish history have been full of mass migrations as different Jewish centers have appeared and disappeared. Few places have remained static for long. Successful places, promising security and economic opportunities, have proved magnets, attracting others to enjoy the benefits of the generation. Places in decline, or under attack, have scattered their Jewish inhabitants to the beckoning arms of potential havens. Thus in demographic terms, the Jewish story can be likened to the waves of the sea: in each century, some waves get higher, and others get lower; new waves are formed and others start to disappear.

After the destruction of the Second Temple, Eretz Israel went into a decline but Babylon began to develop as a great Jewish center. As Babylon declined, Spain and Ashkenaz (the German lands) developed. As these fell from greatness, Poland and the Ottoman Empire developed. Shortly after this, we see the slow building of the centers of Western Europe and the New World, which began to flourish as, particularly, the Eastern European center declined and finally fell.

At the same time as some of the Diaspora centers were declining - and ultimately fell, Eretz Israel - in its new guise as the State of Israel - re-emerged as a Jewish center. Some would call it the Jewish center.

This, then, is the Jewish world: a living organism that is rarely still, rarely stagnant, but is rather a place of constant change and flux. This flux is represented most clearly by the demographic changes as the numbers of Jews in the different parts of the Jewish world increase or decrease. These changing numbers reflect significant changes in the fortunes of the different Jewish communities. To that extent, dry numbers reflect dramatic developments. It is to these numbers that we now turn in order to conclude this section about the modern Jewish world.


Making Sense Of Numbers.

The aim of this activity is to examine the trends in the Jewish world, to think about the Jewish future and to prepare the students for the next part of the program, which will deal with the place of Israel in the modern Jewish world.





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03 Dec 2006 / 12 Kislev 5767 0