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Israel's Jews

Israeli Jews or Jewish Israelis are Israeli citizens and nationals who are Jewish through either their Jewish ethnicity and/or their adherence to Judaism. The term also includes the descendants of Jewish Israelis who have emigrated and settled outside of the State of Israel. Alongside Samaritans and populations from the Jewish diaspora scattered outside of the Land of Israel, Jewish Israelis comprise the modern descendants of the ancient Israelites and Hebrews.

The Jewish population in Israel comprises all of the communities of the Jewish diaspora, including Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Beta Israel, Cochin Jews, Bene Israel, Karaite Jews, and many other groups. The Israeli Jewish community manifests a wide range of Jewish cultural traditions and encompasses the full spectrum of religious observance ranging from the Haredim, who observe Orthodox Judaism, to the Hilonim, who maintain a secular Jewish lifestyle. Among Israel’s Jewish population, over 25 percent of schoolchildren and over 35 percent of all newborns are of mixed Ashkenazi and Sephardi/Mizrahi descent, and these figures have been increasing by approximately 0.5 percent annually. Over 50 percent of the entire Israeli Jewish population is of at least partial Sephardi/Mizrahi descent.

Despite the ongoing debate over the question of determining Jewish identity among Israeli Jews, the Jewish status of a person, which is considered a matter of nationality by the Israeli government, is registered and controlled by the Israeli Interior Ministry, which requires a person to meet the Halakhic definition to be registered as a Jew.

Jews living in the Holy Land prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 were commonly referred to in English as “Palestinian Jews” (in reference to the Palestine region and its British Mandate) and in Hebrew as HaYishuv HaYehudi Be’Eretz Yisra’el (lit. ’The Jewish Community in the Land of Israel’).