To be Jewish, one needs to have been born to a Jewish mother - or to convert.
Religion and beliefs
Judaism is not heavy with doctrine but has 613 commandments - all but three of which can and should be broken when life is in peril.
Most Jews would probably consider Orthodoxy the most 'authentic' denomination, but even among Orthodox, there are variations in observance, as well as in extent of integration into general society.
Generally, Conservative Judaism is egalitarian in its approach to both rights and religious obligations, is opposed to intermarriage, and believes in traditional Sabbath observance.
The Reform movement believes Judaism should reflect life in modern times, and introduce innovation and embrace diversity when it comes to Jewish belief and practice.
Judaism has traditionally not encouraged conversion, but the process, which seems to go back to the Book of Ruth, is not difficult.
It’s the all-time best-seller, and the No. 1 book many would choose as a desert island companion. But three-quarters of the Christian 'Holy Bible' read around the globe in over 500 languages is in fact the Hebrew Bible, in its 'Old Testament' form.
Almost half of Ashkenazim carry at least one of 38 genetic diseases, and our closest genetic relatives are Druze, Bedouin, Palestinians - and Italians.
Jewish life events
In First Temple times, almost all the region's peoples were circumcised, which indicates that the roots of the practice lie deep in prehistory.