5 June 2020 - 14 Sivan 5780 - י"ד סיון ה' אלפים תש"פ
Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, research reveals E-mail

Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, with an average of more than 13 years of formal schooling, according to a new study published in December.

The study, undertaken by the Pew Research Center, a USbased non-partisan “fact tank”, found that Jews worldwide have four years more of schooling on average than the next-most-educated group, Christians, who average about nine years of schooling.

One important note in the research relates to both religion and region matter for educational attainment. Within the world’s major religious groups, there are often large variations in educational attainment depending on the country or region of the world in which adherents live.

Muslims in Europe, for example, have more years of schooling, on average, than Muslims in the Middle East. This is because education levels are affected by many factors other than religion, including socioeconomic conditions, government resources and migration policies, the presence or absence of armed conflict and the prevalence of child labor and marriage. At the same time, this study finds that even under the same regional or national conditions, there often are differences in education attainment among those within religious groups.

Muslims and Hindus are the least-educated religious groups, each with about 5 1/2 years of formal schooling. The global average is less than eight years.

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Crackdown in Kaifeng E-mail

By the time that New York Times correspondent Chris Buckley had alerted the world to the crackdown against the Jewish descendants in Kaifeng in September 2016, members of that community had already been living with it for over a year.

The reason for the delay in reportage was that members of the community had advised the two Jewish organisations working with them not to go public with the news. They hoped that if they remained silent, the previous status quo would return. But 16 months on, the only Chinese-language exhibit on the Jewish community was missing.

This author reluctantly broke the silence when an Israeli reporter asked to be put in contact with some Kaifeng Jews so that she could include them in a story about how Pesach is observed around the world.

For over a year, the Sino-Judaic Institute had heard reports that Jewish life in Kaifeng was being curtailed. Then the author received independent confirmation from Mark Ellison of Hong Kong, who had visited Kaifeng in March 2016.

Ellison reported that indeed Shavei Israel’s school had been closed down and community gatherings were prohibited; that the revered well on the ancient synagogue site had been filled in and closed off; that the historical plaques marking the old Jewish street had been removed; that the stelae (inscribed memorial stones) and other artifacts in the Municipal Museum were off-limits; that the only Chinese language exhibit on the Jewish community, housed in the Merchant Guildhall Museum, had been taken down; and that Jewish tour groups (although not individuals) were prohibited from visiting Kaifeng.

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Yiddish Language was invented by Slavo-Iranian Jewish merchants E-mail

A new tool called the Geographic Population Structure (GPS), which converts DNA data into its ancestral coordinates, has pinpointed the origin of Yiddish speakers, according to a team of researchers led by Dr. EranElhaik of the University of Sheffield, UK.

The Slavic Yiddish (now universally called simply Yiddish), spoken since the 9th century CE, is the language of Ashkenazic Jews, the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.

The language consists of Hebrew, German, Slavic and other elements written in Aramaic characters. Its origin is something which Linguists have questioned its origins for decades.

The prevalent view claims Yiddish has a German origin, whereas the opposing view posits a Slavic origin. One of the major difficulties in deciding between these hypotheses is the unknown geographical origin of Ashkenazic Jews.

Now, the GPS tool has helped scientists pinpoint that the DNA of Yiddish speakers could have originated from four ancient villages in north-eastern Turkey.

The research, published today in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution, suggests Yiddish was invented by Iranian and Ashkenazic Jews as they traded on the Silk Road. “We conclude that Ashkenazic Jews probably originated during the first millennium when Iranian Jews Judaized Greco-Roman, Turk, Iranian, southern Caucasus and Slavic populations inhabiting the lands of Ashkenaz in Turkey,” Dr. Elhaik and coauthors said.

“Our findings imply that Yiddish was created by Slavo Iranian Jewish merchants plying the Silk Roads between Germany, North Africa, and China.”

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