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2 From World-Wide People to First-World People: The Consolidation of World Jewry

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Chapter Summary

Since World War II, the Jewish world has been consolidating at an unprecedented rate. In 1939, just under half of the world's 16.6 million Jews lived in two countries: the US and Poland. The top five Jewish communities that year were home to about three-quarters of world Jewry. In 2012 the Jewish population had clawed its way back to 13.746 million. Yet perhaps the most significant of all the statistics concerning world Jewry has to do with the percentage of Jews who now live in First World countries-the term that author uses here to mean the 25 or so countries with the most advanced economies, the greatest influence, the highest standards of living, and the greatest technology. Today some 93% of world Jewry lives in the First World. The conclusion is then inescapable: where once Judaism was truly a "world religion", today it is increasingly a "First-World religion".

Keywords: first world countries; first-world religion; Jewish communities; Judaism; world Jewry

10.1163/9789004277076_004
/content/books/b9789004277076_004
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