Ashkenazi Jews claim to have higher intelligence than any other ethnic group or race. They excel in verbal and mathematical intelligence. Despite their small population size, they are successful in a variety of academic fields, including, Science, technology, politics, and law. They have won in the Fields Medals, Turing Awards, and Regeneron Science Talent Search award. Descendants of Ashkenazi Jews represented 54% of world chess champions, 37% recipients of National Medal of Science, 29%U.S. Nobel Prize winners, and 42% Nobel laureates in medicine or physiology.
With the figures presented above, there is no question that Jews really are smart people. What could be the secret behind this?
Physicist Albert Einstein, composer Gustav Mahler, and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud are Ashkenazi Jewish. They are few of the genius Jews and are considered to be influential people in history.
Gregory Cochran (biologist) together with anthropologists Henry Harpending and Jason Hardy believes that the high level of intelligence in Jews is due to a genetic mutation. The intellectual genes are passed down through generations. They claim that the ability to acquire and apply knowledge is far ahead in this genetically isolated group. Ashkenazims are said to have cognitively demanding occupations in the fields of trade, management, and finance. Mastery in these fields brought prosperity to their people and more success in the next generation.
The study also noted that genetic diseases, like Tay-Sachs and Gaucher’s, are common in Jewish ethnic groups. These diseases result from higher levels of a certain chemical that is also responsible for neuronal growth. This makes the researcher think that there is a link between genetic disorders and higher intelligence.
Education Is A Jewish Value
To Jewish families, schooling is a priority.
The Talmud encourages Jews to remember Yehoshua ben Gamla. If not for this high priest, the Torah would have been forgotten by Israel. He established a universal system of education after all other attempts failed. He was worried that children of poor families and orphans would not have access to a quality Torah education. This led him to lay down instructions and develop a system where teachers of young children should be appointed in each town and district.
The goal of Jewish tradition is to provide every child with the best education. Parents are empowered and are free to select a school that they think would work well for their children.
Obliged By Religion
The Jewish religion is somewhat unique in that they are morally bound to be literate. In Joshua 1:8, Jews are told that they will succeed and prosper if they will learn the Torah day and night. We all know that the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) is a very complicated book. It takes deep understanding and critical thinking to understand what exactly God means by each word for the Jews to live by it. And so, they have to learn how to read, think, and express their thoughts as to how the Torah makes sense to them and their lives.
Parents raise independent children even as young as one year old. They allow their children to do things on their own depending on their capacity. They support and encourage their children to do things they want to do. If the child fails, they remind him that all beginnings are difficult. If he will not give up, it would eventually become easy. That is trusting. Parents trust that their kids can do things and can do better.
Energetic kids running around, causing chaos, and becoming untidy is okay for Jewish parents. The parents believe that their child is undoubtedly learning something from experimenting with things. At the same time, they will also explain how tidiness and orderliness are essential in his life.
Running around and climbing trees allows children to use up their energy. Parents know how important it is to let their kids be kids. Kids who are allowed to play around and get dirty and sweaty are the ones who grow up confident and persistent.
Most parents would get mad seeing their kids writing or drawing doodles on the walls, but not Jewish parents. For them, it is a sign that there is an artist inside their kids and is a sign of intelligence.
Independence teaches kids to
- Do things for themselves and not rely on their parents all the time.
- Have a sense of self-control.
- Respect their parents and elders.
- Realize their wrong actions and will make way to correct their behaviors because they know it is for their own good.
- Grow up as wise adults. They try hard not to make mistakes, not because of fear of being punished, but because they know it is wiser to do things right. It will avoid complications and that would be beneficial for the family.
You may think there is so much freedom and independence that Jewish kids enjoy. There are also things they are not allowed to do. One is disrespecting their parents and elders. It is a big no-no, or else they will be punished. At a young age, they are taught how to respect their parents, elders, and other people.
Jewish people believe that nothing goes unnoticed as what the Torah said. They know that God will reward them for their hard work and good deeds.
Some Jewish people were not given too many opportunities. Many nations are still discriminating when it comes to Jews. It’s not easy to put Jewish people down. As I mentioned earlier, they are persistent.
For Jews, acquiring an education is their pathway to improving their standard of living. They believe it is the only thing that cannot be taken away from them, the only thing they have control over with. Knowledge and education are their currency to survive the world that has been for a time (or until now) unkind to them.
Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence
Haslinger K. (2005, October 1). A Jewish gene for intelligence? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-jewish-gene-for-intelligence/