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Friday, November 28, 2014

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From the 1880s to the 1920s, some two million east European Jews immigrated to America.

Most of the world’s 13 million Jews live in North America and Israel. Jewish leaders in both countries continue to assert the centrality of Israel for a vital Jewish future. They maintain that without the Diaspora’s influence, Israel will become parochial, and without Eretz Yisrael, the Diaspora will inevitably assimilate.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, between 160,000 and 180,000 German Jews perished in the Holocaust. After World War II, a small Jewish community gradually emerged. However, beginning in the 1990s, a significant number of Russian Jews immigrated to the newly united Germany, and by 2004, the Jewish population had reached 118,000.

Approximately 20,000 Jews live in Poland, but only a fraction are members of Jewish communal institutions. But recent efforts to revive Jewish life is achieving surprising success.

The 600,000 Jews in South Florida (the Miami metropolitan area) are about 10 per cent of the area’s population, and make up the third-largest percentage of Jews in any major U.S. metropolitan area. They represent about 10 per cent of Jews in the United States.

There are approximately 1.5 million Reform Jews who belong to more than 900 Reform congregations in the United States and Canada.

The Reform movement began ordaining women in 1972. There are now several hundred female rabbis, as well as female cantors, synagogue presidents and other religious leaders. This now holds true also for Conservative and Reconstructionist forms of Judaism.

The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Judaism and Culture estimates that the number of haredi Jews is 300,000 in North America, 500,000 in Israel and another 75,000 in Canada, Europe and Latin America.

More than a million Conservative Jews live in the United States, and another 100,000 in Canada, Europe, Latin America and Israel. In 1975, more American Jews were affiliated with Conservative synagogues than with those of any other denomination. By the 1990s, however, membership was in decline.

In the 1970s, about 25 per cent of North American Jews were married to non-Jews. By the 1990s, that figure had doubled to 52 per cent. In recent years, many intermarried Jews continued to identify with the community and are eager to raise their children as Jews. This presents problems in Jewish law when the non-Jewish parent is the mother.

In 1983, the Reform movement adopted the principle that the children of one Jewish parent, male or female, are presumed to be Jewish if they become involved in public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and Jewish People (mitzvot).

The Gerontology Research Group believes there’s an ‘invisible barrier’ at age 115. There are only 12 undisputed cases of people ever reaching 115. Right now, according to GRG, 55 women and six men are over age 110 worldwide. The oldest age ever reached was 122, in 1997, by a French woman. No matter how little you eat, how much you exercise and how healthy you live, you apparently can’t live longer than 125 years. In 5,000 years of recorded history, there’s been no change in the maximum life span.

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