The Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים ISO 259-3 Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation [jehuˈdim]), also known as the Jewish people, are an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites, or Hebrews, of the Ancient Near East. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

The Jews trace their ethnogenesis to the part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel. The discovery of the Merneptah Stele confirms the existence of the people of Israel in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE. Since then, while maintaining rule over their homeland during certain periods—such as under the Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of Judah, the Hasmonean Dynasty, and the Herodian Kingdom—Jews also suffered various exiles and occupations from their homeland—from Ancient Egyptian Occupation of the Levant, to Assyrian Captivity and Exile, to Babylonian Captivity and Exile, to Greek Occupation and Exile, to the Roman Occupation and Exile. These events subjected Jews to slavery, pogroms, cultural assimilation, forced expulsions, genocide, and more, scattering Jews all around the world, in what is known today as the Jewish diaspora.

The worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million prior to World War II, but approximately 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Since then the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2014 was estimated at 14.2 million by the North American Jewish Data Bank, or less than 0.2% of the total world population (roughly one in every 514 people).

According to a report published in 2014, about 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (6.1 million), and 40% in the United States (5.7 million), with most of the remainder living in Europe (1.4 million) and Canada (0.4 million). These numbers include all those who self-identified as Jews in a socio-demographic study or were identified as such by a respondent in the same household. The exact world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, disputes among proponents of halakhic, secular, political, and ancestral identification factors regarding who is a Jew may affect the figure considerably depending on the source.

Despite their small percentage of the world's population, Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, including ethics, medicine, science and technology, the arts, music, cinema, philosophy and business ethics, both historically and in modern times.

Israel is the only country where Jews are a majority of the population. The modern State of Israel was established as a Jewish state and defines itself as such in its Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws. Its Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to any Jew who requests it.

Jews Are Cool

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"I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world."
Richard Feynman
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