Zion in the New World
THERE ARE nearly 6,000,000 Jews in the United States today, if we apply the most liberal definition of "Jew." (Defining "Jew" can be a difficult matter, and in Israel is a problem of the most complex kind, involving a person's legal rights and degree of citizenship. In the United States it is simplest to count as a Jew anyone who regards himself as a Jew, or whose parents did.) The American Jewish community is the largest, wealthiest, most secure, and most powerful group of Jews in the world. It includes not much less than half of the total world Jewish population of about 14,000,000. The next largest group, some 2,600,000, lives in the Soviet Union under conditions of uncertain freedom. The Jewish population of Israel was about 2,436,000 in 1969. A million Jews live in Western Europe, 700,000 in South America, 500,000 in the Moslem world, chiefly North Africa.
The heavy concentration of Jews in the United States is something relatively new, dating only from the beginning of the twentieth century, and their statistical importance to world Jewish distribution is even newer, resulting mainly from the German campaign of genocide against the Jewish population of Europe under Hitler. (Before World War II, 58 percent of the world's Jews lived in Europe; today only 30 percent do, the majority in Russia. The total world population of Jews is still 2,000,000 less than that of 1939.)
The American Jews are found in all 50 states, but they live predominantly in the large cities and their suburbs. Some 2,000,000 of them dwell in and around New York City, which has a greater Jewish population than any other city in history; there are