Weekly Warm-Up: Hanukkah and the Geography of Judaism

Seeing that today is the first day of Hanukkah, I thought it appropriate to address the geography of Judaism in today’s Weekly Warm-Up.

How well do you know Hanukkah? Find out in our five-question quick quiz!

Learn more about the menorah here. Photograph by kevindvt, courtesy Pixabay. Public domain.

Learn more about the menorah here.
Photograph by kevindvt, courtesy Pixabay. Public domain.

If any population is an ideal case study for a lesson in human geography, it is the Jewish population.

Firstly, the term diaspora, commonly used to describe “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland,” is primarily defined as “the settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile” (definitions from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). The website My Jewish Learning reports that there are currently over 13 million Jews worldwide, 5 million of whom live in Israel.

Secondly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides an example of groups of people who have put immense importance and meaning into a physical landscape. The land that currently comprises the Jewish state of Israel has been fought over for centuries because of what it represents to different groups of people.

Thirdly, the long, strange trip of the Crypto-Jews is a case study in human geography and migration. Crypto-Jews trace their ancestry to medieval Jewish communities that fled to the Americas in order to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Hiding their faith to avoid persecution, the descendants of these communities did not discover their Jewish origins until the 20th century.

There is a lot to learn about Jewish history and culture. Check out some of the resources below to learn about the diaspora, Hanukkah, potato latkes, and more!

1. Jewish holidays, beliefs, customs, history, texts, and more

2. Maps of the Jewish Diaspora around the world

  • A Voyage Around the Diaspora,” a map of the Jewish Diaspora all over the world, including descriptions of six different Jewish communities.
  • The Jewish Population Project, which includes a map with layers on the age, education, and denomination of different Jewish communities in the United States.

3. Hanukkah extravaganza

  • Hanukkah basics
  • Hanukkah how-tos
  • Hanukkah recipes
  • Hanukkah videos
  • Hanukkah nights

4. Potato latkes

5. Geography in the News: Hanukkah!

+1: Test your Hanukkah knowledge with our five-question quick quiz!

This post was written by former National Geographic intern Jane Mulcahy in December 2010, and is just as relevant today!

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