Friday, January 28, 2005

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A brief glimpse at the precipice

Cross-Currents reposts an article in the New York Sun by Daniel Pipes (The Future of Judaism). Here's the key part that I want to emphasize:

Until the 18th century, there was basically only one kind of Judaism, that which is now called Orthodox. It meant living by the religion’s 613 laws, and doing so suffused Jews’ lives with their faith. Then, starting with the thinker Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) and moving briskly during the Haskala, or enlightenment, from the late 18th century, Jews developed a wide variety of alternate interpretations of their religion, most of which diminished the role of faith in their lives and led to a concomitant reduction in Jewish affiliation.

These alternatives and other developments, in particular the Holocaust, caused the ranks of the Orthodox to be reduced to a small minority. Their percentage of the total world Jewish population reached a nadir in the post-World War II era, when it declined to about 5%.

Doing some quick math and guesswork, it's my understanding that the holocaust killed 6,000,000 Jews, and 1/3 of the jewish people on earth. If that left 12,000,000 jews in the world, and 5% orthodox aka religious aka torah observant jews, that left 600,000 or less after World War 2.


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