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Ashkenazic (Ashkenazy) Jew Definition

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Ashkenazic Jew- (noun, Hebrew, pronounced Ahsh keh na zzi' (modern Hebrew) or Ahsh'kuh na zzi [English])

A Jew of European but non-Spanish origin. Originally this term was applied to the Jews of Germany. Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the Jews who were taken to Rome as slaves and later radiated out throughout Europe, settling first in France and Cologne and being expelled from there, and settling in Holland, Germany, Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe. The term "Ashkenazi" was first applied about the tenth or eleventh century.

It is thought that Ashkenazic Jews originally constituted a small minority of the world's Jews

Ashkenazic Jews are distinguished from Sephardic Jews and Jews form other lands by their pronunciation of Hebrew and by slight differences in prayer rituals, observance of Kashruth (ritual dietary laws) and holidays. In medieval times, Ashkenazy Jews, living among Christians, were likely to engage in banking and loaning money for interest. Sephardic Jews tended to take up other occupations.

At the end of the eleventh century, Ashkenazic Jews had constituted about 3% of world Jewry, whereas today they are thought to constitute approximately 80%, even though they suffered disproportionately during the Holocaust. Different groups of Ashkenazic Jews in circumscribed geographic areas probably each originated from a relatively small number of individuals and remained together through inbreeding. This resulted in a high incidence of genetic diseases that are characteristic of "Ashkenazic Jews," or rather, sub-populations of Ashkenazic Jews. .

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: See also Sephardic Jews Mizrahi Jews Arab Jews Can Sephardic Judaism be Reconstructed?

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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