Ashkenazi Jews are the most common groups of Jews worldwide. 95% of all Jews outside Israel have been stated to be Ashkenazi Jews. However, they are a much smaller part of the population of Israel, which also consists of groups such as Mizrahi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Palestinians, as well as various small groups. Many of the supposed Ashkenazi Jews who immigrated to Israel from the Soviet Union/Russia have been stated to actually be Russians, who posed as Jews for reasons such as escaping from the Soviet Union.
One view is that the Ashkenazi Jews migrated into Central and Northern Europe during the early Medieval period from the Mediterranean region. They later become widely dispersed, in part due to being expelled from various countries.
Another view is that they are descendants of the Khazars who converted to Judaism. See the Khazar theory.
Etymologically, the term comes from Hebrew Ashkenazzim, plural of Ashkenaz, who was the eldest son of Gomer. It is also the name of a people mentioned elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible and that may originally have referred to the Scythians. Later, it was applied to various other peoples and in the Middle Ages to Germans.
- Lynn, Professor Richard, The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement, 2011, Washington Summit Publishers.
- Ashkenazim - Online Etymology Dictionary. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=Ashkenazim