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Jews living outside Israel; the dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel.

The main diaspora began in the 8th–6th centuries bc, and even before the sack of Jerusalem in ad 70 the number of Jews dispersed by the diaspora was greater than that living in Israel. Thereafter, Jews were dispersed even more widely throughout the Roman world and beyond (for example, into India). The term embraces concerns about cultural assimilation and loss of Jewish identity which are at the centre of the movement of Zionism.

The word is Greek, and comes from diaspeirein ‘disperse’, from dia ‘across’ + speirein ‘scatter’. The term originated in the Septuagint (Deuteronomy 28:25) in the phrase esē diaspora en pasais basileias tēs gēs ‘thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth’.

Subjects: Performing artsTheatre

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