Sergio Della Pergola
The scientific study of the Jewish population, also known as demography of the Jews or Jewish demography, does not actually claim the status of a distinct discipline. It is an area of specialization focusing on the changing size and composition of Jewish populations and on the determinants and consequences of such changes. This article outlines some of the main concepts, interpretative frameworks, and methodological issues in the field, followed by a short outline of substantive patterns and applied uses of available knowledge. The main scientific rationale for the study of Jewish populations rests with the growing interest in understanding the demography of religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities. Demographic changes provide an important and occasionally indispensable background for an appraisal of Jewish history and cultural experience. Hence, the study of Jewish demography is organically tied to the development of Jewish studies.
S. Ilan Troen
While Zionist ideology has long been part of the rubric of Jewish history, the study of its realization through the social, cultural, and political history of the Yishuv and Israel has been relatively neglected. The Jews of Eretz Israel (‘the Land of Israel’) numbered less than half of 1% of world Jewry at the beginning of the twentieth century. Israel now accounts for about 40% and is approaching parity with the United States. Israeli history and society has only recently become a discrete topic or field of study within the humanities and social sciences, and included in university curricula, even in Israel. Change began in Israel in the early 1990s, when various collections of courses under the title of ‘Israel Studies’ were organized as a modest subset within the BA degree.