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There are over 6 million Ashkenazi, or Eastern European Jews, in the U.S. today -- more than in any other country in the world.  Making up the vast majority of American Jews, they are the descendants of German Jews who migrated throughout the 1800s, of Yiddish speaking villagers who came later from areas now in Poland, Lithuania and Romania, and of refugees and adventurers continuing the diaspora in smaller numbers to this day.  They've brought us lox and bagels, great words like "schmuck" and "schlep", terrific literature and film, and rockstar jurist Ruth Bader Ginsberg, so what's not to like? 

A great place to explore Ashenazi and other Jewish culture is unquestionably New York City, home to the largest and most diverse group of Jewish communities outside Isreal.  Of the roughly 1.5 million Jews in NYC's metropolitan area, many have deep roots in the community, and in the wider U.S. society, spanning generations.  Long leaders in education, arts and usually progressive politics, they have have also founded and funded an impressive array of museums, parks, and community organizations, and host fascinating events each year.

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NYC is also home to some of the most traditional and distinct Ashkenazi groups, whose numbers have grown in recent decades.  These include sizable Orthodox and Hassidic communities (pictured) in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.  A thriving Russian Jewish community also makes its home in Brighton Beach.  

 If NYC isn't on your travel list this year, these great books and movies can jumpstart your journey now:

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All across the country, festivals and arts events celebrate Ashkenazi and other Jewish heritage.  Some of the best nationally include the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival, annual Jewish film festivals in San FranciscoNew York, and Baltimore, and the Festival of Jewish Literature.

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There are also many great museums which document and describe the culture and experience of Jews, including Ashkenazi Jews, in America.  Outstanding choices include:

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Media Spotlight

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