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The historical and geographical movement of the Jewish communities…


B. Religious diversity between populations of interest

II. The historical and geographical movement of the Jewish communities…

The national and religious origins of Jews have been traced, archeologically, to the Middle East in the second millennium BC, what happened next has been more opaque.

Ever since, they kept genetic, cultural and religious traditions coherence despite, migrations from the Middle East into Europe, North Africa, and beyond over the centuries. Nowadays, within the Jewish community, various groups are differentiated depending to their history and settlement. The three main groups are Orientals, Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews (LivresGroupe, 2010) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The Jewish Diaspora between 70 to 1497 AD.


Part I B. Bibliographical Review


The Oriental Jews settlement is Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Asia Central and Arabic peninsula, come from communities originated from Persian and Babylonian empires (IIIV centuries BC).

The Sephardic Jews (from Hebrew Sepharad: Spain) lived in Spain and Portugal. The current Jewish communities of Balkans, Italy, North Africa and Syria were formed during the classical antiquity and they have been mixed with Sephardic Jews, wish migrated after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula in the XV century. According to old traditions, without documentary evidence, the first Jewish reached Spain together with the Phoenician shipment members; even if it’s possible in some cases their arrival as refugees, due the destruction of the holy temple (temple in Jerusalem), in the year 30 of our age. In those earlier centuries, Spain was identified as the “Sepharad Biblica”.

Thus, the Spanish Jews were called “Sephardies/Sepharditas” (Baer, 2001). The Jews settlement was mainly in the Mediterranean cost, in cities like Gerona, Ampurias, Tarragona, Malaga and Cadiz and left tracks of their presence since the II century, in the same time of the Roman dominance, coexisting as workers or even slaves. But progressively they lost their prestige, as in the IV century; the council of Elvira (Granada) drew up some laws against Sephardic, because of the religious danger that they could present, wish led to the forced conversion in some places like in Mahón (Menorca). It is widely believed that the first persecution of Jews in Spain occurred under the Christians. Rather the first persecution of Jews in Spain occurred under the Visigoths in the 7th Century, not under Christian rule. Jews gained rapidly in importance by the beginning of the Muslim’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (the year 711) (Jane et al, 1992). Under the Almoravides, the Jewish community prospered, but they were persecuted when the Almohade began fighting for the power, especially in Cordoba. In 1478, a war outbroke to put an end to the Arabic colonization of Spain. After that, in 1492, an expulsion decree was signed by the Catholic Kings. In the other hand, Jewish were expulsed from most of European countries between the XI and XV centuries. The North African Jews, even though they are considered as Sephardic, in some studies they were analyzed as a group apart. Nevertheless, they are a blend of pre-existing Jews in North Africa and the populations that settled their before their expulsion from European countries (Balta et al, 2003).

Religious diversity between populations of interest


The Ashkenazis Jews (from Hebrew Ashkenaz: Germany) settled in the valley of Rin, originally from the Oriental Jews of Palestine, during the VI-IX centuries and the immigrated to the East of Europe between the XI-XV centuries, especially to Polony, Lituany, Byelorussia, Ukraine and Russia, being the most large Jewish community.

Some theories rises about their Sorbian (with a Slavic language in Germany) and Khazarian origins. Ashkenazi Jews developed their own language, the “Yiddish” (blend of and old German and Hebrew, with some words stemmed from Slavic language, wrote with a Hebrew alphabet) (Straten, 2011).

Geography is linked to genetic variation, and people who have the same geographic ancestry are more likely, on average, to be genetically similar than people who do not.

Thus, it is important to analyze the Jewish community looking for a possible evidence of genetic indicators for geographic and ethnical ancestry and to verify if this group stayed close genetically or if he became mixed with other surrounding populations.

Some historians situated the Jewish mixture by the beginning of the Jewish world, applying for the possible limitation of mixture in the last 2000 years because of their religious principles (Bonne-Tamir, 1992; Frederic et al. 2011 and Goldstein, 2008).

Several studies focused on the Jewish community since the XX century, trying to best characterize the interrelation between this community and the populations they coexisted with and between themselves during the Diaspora. The first genetic studies on the Jewish populations were carried out with classical markers like blood type polymorphism and in different blood markers as serum protein and erythrocytes’

enzymes. Some published results, assumed the Middle Eastern origins of the Jewish people, with some genetic similarities between most of them but the mixture degree with the local populations remain important. The development and use of some techniques based on DNA analyses, helped widely in the population genetics field, to characterize the Jewish population. The analyses of mitochondrial DNA, as well as autosomes, Y chromosomal and recently X chromosomal markers especially STR and SNP were highly used (i.e. Hammer et al. 2000; Ostrer 2001; Thomas et al. 2002;

Atzmon et al. 2010; Behar et al. 2010).

Part I B. Bibliographical Review


Figure 3: The Jewish migration pattern and worldwide distribution.


Religious diversity between populations of interest


Part I C. Bibliographical Review