History of the Jews in the United States

The history of the Jews in the United States has been part of the American national fabric since colonial times. Until the 1830s the Jewish community of Charleston, South Carolina, was the most populous in North America. With the large-scale immigration of Jews from diaspora communities in Germany in the 19th century, they established themselves in many small towns and cities. Immigration of Eastern Ashkenazi Jews, 1880–1914, brought a large, poor, traditional element to New York City. Refugees arrived from diaspora communities in Europe after World War II and, after 1970, from the Soviet Union.

In the 1940s, Jews comprised 3.7% of the national population. Today, at about 6.5 million, the population is 2% of the national total—and shrinking as a result of smaller family sizes and interfaith marriages resulting in nonobservance. The largest population centers are the metropolitan areas of New York (2.1 million in 2000), Los Angeles (668,000), Miami (331,000), Philadelphia (285,000), Chicago (265,000) and Boston (254,000).

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