Are there Jews everywhere?

November 12th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I understand that God warned in Deuteronomy 28 that He would disperse the Jews throughout the world “from one end of the earth to the other”. Did this happen?
Are Jews in every country; for example Chile? Iceland? Korea? South Africa? How far were they dispersed?

∼ Kate S.

Answer:

Dear Kate,

Chile – yes; Iceland -yes; Korea – yes; South Africa -yes. It is quite difficult to find a populated area that does not have resident Jews or where Jews haven’t historically been a presence. There are countries where Jews lived before being expelled (returning to some later, like England and Spain) and others, such as Syria, that Jews fled relatively recently because of persecution after thousands of years of maintaining an intact religious community.

All the countries you mention have a Jewish population—in some cases with flourishing communities. There are other countries that not only have a modern presence but where there was a presence in earlier years that ended when Jews assimilated into the host country. Pearl S. Buck wrote one of her books, Peony, based on the assimilation of the Jewish community into China in the mid 1800s.

Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people have remained rather small, diminished both by persecution and by assimilation. Their influence has been completely disproportionate to their numbers, both for good when we follow God’s words and fulfill our destiny serving as a light of morality unto the nations and, tragically, for bad when we abandon God and His Torah. It is hard to understand how one nation could have such longevity and such an effect on the world without accepting that the nation is a unique recipient of both God’s blessing and curse as stated in Deuteronomy.

Globally yours,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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