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Ashkenazi (plural Ashkenazim) Jews are descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland, "Ashkenaz" being the Medieval Hebrew name for Germany.

Many later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere between the 10th and 19th centuries. From medieval times until the mid-20th century, the lingua franca among Ashkenazi Jews was Yiddish, and they developed a distinct culture and liturgy influenced by interaction with surrounding nations.

Although in the 11th century they comprised only 3% of the world's Jewish population, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for (at their highest) 92% of the world's Jews in 1931 and today make up approximately 80% of Jews worldwide. Most Jewish communities with extended histories in Europe are Ashkenazim, with the exception of those associated with the Mediterranean region. A significant portion of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Eastern Ashkenazim, particularly in the United States.