Who is a Jew?
Who is a Jew is a contentious issue in Israel and other parts of the Jewish world. The question has been raised and discussed in the Israeli Knesset and by rabbis around the world.
The answer is actually very simple, one who is born a Jew or one who converts to Judaism.
The complications start when the question is asked about the conversion process and what defines a baby at birth?
Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; people who practice crypto-Judaism are referred to as "Crypto-Jews". The term Crypto-Jew is also used to describe descendants of Jews who still (generally secretly) maintain some Jewish traditions, often while adhering to other faiths, most commonly Catholicism. The Hebrew name is Anusim.
Is it really possible to unlock secrets from the past with a simple DNA swab test? DNA is passed from parent to child and by checking your DNA, you can check your lineage to see the likely origin of your ancestors. You can see if you carry the Kohen Gene Haplotype, an indication of priestly descent and an mtDNA test can indicate the possibility of Jewish origin through the maternal line.
When you do the math you will actually count 13 tribes of Israel. The list contains two tribes (Ephraim and Menasseh) that are descended from Joseph and therefore Joseph is not counted as a tribe even though he was a son of Jacob and brother to the other tribes. That still leaves 13. The tribe of Levi was a priestly tribe and did not receive a portion of the land when they came to the land of Israel (Canaan).
How many Jews are there in the world today?
According to Mark Twain's 1898 article in Harper's Magazine, Jews are "a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way". He goes on to say: "The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
Are Jews really only one percent of the human race?
Current studies indicate that Jews only make up .22 percent of the world population, far less than even Mark Twain's estimation in 1898. Even the current estimates of 13 million is declining. According to a 2002 study by the Jewish Agency, "the number of Jews in the world is declining at an average of 50,000 per year."
Where have all the Jews gone?
This website attempts to look at some of the possibilities, offer some answers and ultimately pose additional questions.