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The Jewish Diaspora

1 January 1970

In the history of Judaism, the phrase “Diaspora” is well known to most people. The ancient Greek word that means the moving away or scattering of people is often used in anthropology and historical research. For the Jewish people the Diaspora meant the scattering of Jews all over the world, also called the Jewish Diaspora or exile. But what is the cause of the Diaspora?n

The history of the Diaspora of the Jewish people

nIn 586 BC the Kingdom of Judah was divided and the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. This event started the Jewish Diaspora. A small part of the Jewish population left for Egypt, while the rest went into exile to Babylon. From Babylonia the Jewish people began to spread more and more. Via Syria they left for Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, Mesopotamia and Central Asia. There are more Jews living in the Diaspora than in Israel, as a result of the enormous dispersion. After the unsuccessful Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 AD, the dispersion of the Jews into North Africa, Asia and Europe started. The peak of the Diaspora however, took place at the end of the Middle Ages. After the discovery of North America, a large part of the Jewish population decided to settle in this new world.nnIt wasn’t until the year 1880 when tens of thousands of Jews began to return to Palestine. This phenomenon is also called the first “aliyah”. The migrants mainly came from Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe, where the growing antisemitism had made their living conditions unbearable. The Jewish population was hoping to put an end to the discrimination and oppression with a national home. In the decades to follow, more and more Jews returned to the Promised Land. With a bare majority in Palestine they proclaimed the State of Israel in 1948. Nowadays more Jews are still living outside Israel than in Israel itself. Even today many thousands of Jews return to Israel each year. In the nineteenth century the Jews came mainly from Europe and Russia, today they come from all parts of the world.