Is there a typical Jew?

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The Jewish people have existed for thousands of years. Once the Jews had their own country, but two thousand years ago they were defeated by the Romans and sent into exile. Eventually they scattered all over the world; so it is not surprising that one can now find Jews of every physical type.

Two main cultural groups exist each of which came into being about a thousand years ago: Ashkenazi Jews, who trace their origins and customs back to their ancestors of central and northern Europe, and Sephardi Jews, who trace their customs back to their ancestors around the Mediterranean.

The word ‘Jew’ is difficult to define. Jews can be religious or secular, and they can practice their religion in many different ways. What all those who regard themselves as Jewish have in common is their sense of being part of a people.

The Jewish people are descended from the ancient Biblical patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The early stages of the Jewish story are described in the Bible.