eastern and central European Jews, one of the two main branches of Diaspora Jewry.

The Ashkenazim created a distinctive civilization and a Yiddish language based culture. During the Holocaust most of the population and the communities of the Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe were destroyed. The Ashkenazim originally moved from northern France to Germanic cities along the Rhine, and then settled in central and eastern Europe.

From 1880 to 1910 about one-third of the Jews in Eastern Europe migrated, mainly to the United States. Most of the Jews living in the United States are descended from the Ashkenazim. The other main branch of Disapora Jewry is called Sephardim. They lived in Portugal, Spain and southern France, speaking a language called Ladino, and also in the Middle East, where they spoke Persian or Arabic.

Source: Rosten, the Joys of Yiddish.

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