Itís a myth that the Major Religions are basically the same
-Robert Fawcett, Author
The Major Religions of the World ....Revisited
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Jewish PerspectivesJewish Perspectives

Jewish PhilosophyJewish boy

Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology.

Major Jewish philosophers include Solomon ibn Gabirol, Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, and Gersonides. Major changes occurred in response to the Enlightenment (late 1700s to early 1800s) leading to the post-Enlightenment Jewish philosophers.

Modern Jewish philosophy consists of both Orthodox and non-Orthodox oriented philosophy. Notable among Orthodox Jewish philosophers are Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Yitzchok Hutner.

Well-known non-Orthodox Jewish philosophers include Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Emmanuel Lévinas.

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Jewish IdentityJewish grandfather and grandaughter

According to traditional Jewish Law, a Jew is anyone either born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in accord with Jewish Law.

American Reform Judaism and British Liberal Judaism accept the child of one Jewish parent (father or mother) as Jewish if the parents raise the child with a Jewish identity. All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts. The conversion process is evaluated by an authority, and the convert is examined on his sincerity and knowledge.

Traditional Judaism maintains that a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, is a Jew forever. Thus a Jew, who claims to be an atheist, or converts to another religion, is still considered by traditional Judaism to be Jewish. However, the Reform movement maintains that a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer a Jew, and the Israeli Government has also taken that stance after Supreme Court cases and statutes.

The question of what determines Jewish identity in the State of Israel was given new impetus when, in the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion requested opinions on mihu Yehudi

("who is a Jew") from Jewish religious authorities and intellectuals worldwide in order to settle citizenship questions. This is far from settled, and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics.

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Jewish DemographicsJewish wedding

The total number of Jews worldwide is difficult to assess because the definition of "who is a Jew" is problematic as not all Jews identify themselves as Jewish. And some who identify as Jewish are not considered so by other Jews.

In addition, intermarriage and the declining birthrate have influenced Jewish population figures. Although, conversion to Judaism may help to offset this slightly.

According to the Jewish Year Book (1901), the global Jewish population in 1900 was around 11 million. The latest available data is from the World Jewish Population Survey of 2002 and the Jewish Year Calendar (2005). In 2002, according to the Jewish Population Survey, there were 13.3 million Jews around the world. The Jewish Year Calendar cites 14.6 million.

Jewish population growth worldwide is close to zero percent. From 2000 to 2001 it rose 0.3%, compared to worldwide population growth of 1.4%.

In 2001, 8.3 million Jews lived in the Diaspora, and 4.9 million lived in Israel. Diaspora is the body of Jews, or Jew communities, outside Palestine, or modern day Israel. This is the dispersion of Jews outside of Israel from the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 587 - 586 BC when the Jews were exiled to Babylonia up to the present time. Babylonia was located in Iraq, some 55 miles south of Baghdad.

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Some Jewish Facts

Information from American Jewish Year Book, and Hebrew University, Prof. Sergio De La Pergola, notes that the top twelve approximate Jewish populations in the world are:

  1. USA 6,500,000
  2. Israel 5,000,000
  3. France 600,000 -- 750,000
  4. Canada 365,000
  5. Britain 275,000
  6. Russia 275,000 -- 650,000
  7. Argentina 200,000 -- 250,000
  8. Ukraine 110,000
  9. Germany 100,000 -- 115,000
  10. Brazil 100,000
  11. South Africa 65,000 -- 90,000
  12. Hungary 50,000 -- 100,000

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Jewish Perspectives:  Major Religions Of The World... Revisited