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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

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The adaptation of the individual to a new climate. It has been observed that when people emigrate to a strange country, even when the new climate differs but little from that of the mother country, there occurs a transformation which affects the entire organism. It has been shown by Virchow that it is not only the individual who is affected by a prolonged sojourn away from his native country, but his posterity as well. At present one of the most urgent problems confronting modern statesmen and sociologists is whether Europeans can emigrate to other climates, particularly the tropics, live healthful lives, and perpetuate their kind and ethnic type there (see C. H. Pearson, "National Life"; B. Kidd, "Control of the Tropics," p. 79, note).

Jews an Example.

The Jews furnish perhaps the best statistics for solving the problem of climation. They live, thrive, perpetuate their kind, and preserve their identity in almost every climate. Many students of the problem of acclimatization have shown that the Jews are a cosmopolitan race (see particularly Boudin, "Mémoires de la Société d'Anthropologie," 1:117). Andree aptly says that "the Jew is able to acclimatize himself with equal facility in hot and in cold latitudes, and to exist without the assistance of native races. He lasts from generation to generation, in Surinam (Dutch Guiana) or in Malabar (India), tropical climates where Europeans, in the course of time, die out unless they are constantly reenforced by immigration from the mother country" ("Zur Volkskunde der Juden," pp. 70, 71). In Algiers, where the French find it so difficult to adapt themselves, the Jews are known to prosper and multiply, as the following figures show:

Year.Mortality per 1,000 Population.

The climation of the Jews in Algiers appears the more striking in view of the following figures for the year 1856, given by Boudin (c. p. 119), showing the relation of the birth-rate to the death-rate among the Jews in comparison with Europeans and the native Mohammedans:


A similar vitality and power of acclimatization are shown by the Jews in India (for statistics see M. Legoyt, "De Certaines Immunités Biostatiques de la Race Juive," pp. 21-24), in the tropical countries of South America (Montano, "L'Hygiène et les Tropiques," in "Bulletin de la Société de Géographie," series 6, 15:418-451), in the southern portion of the United States, and in Cuba. The same holds good in South Africa and Australia.

Extremes of Temperature.

A. R. Wallace considers the Jews "a good example of acclimatization because they have been established for many centuries in climates very different from that of their native land; they keep themselves almost wholly free from intermixture with the people around them. . . . They have, for instance, attained a population of near two millions [at present nearly six millions] in such severe climates as Poland and Russia; and according to Mr. Brace ('Races of the Old World,' p. 185), their increase in Sweden is said to be greater than that of the Christian population; in the towns of Algeria they are the only race able to maintain its numbers; and in Cochin China and Aden they succeed in rearing and forming permanent communities" ("Acclimatization," in "Encyclopædia Britannica," 9th ed., vol. ).

It is important to note that wherever they live the Jews preserve their peculiar typical Semitic features, and in most cases also their habits of life.

Felkin ("Can Europeans Become Acclimatized in Tropical Africa?" in "Scottish Geographical Magazine," 2:653) states that it is probably due to a certain amount of Semitic blood that the southern Europeans possess in a higher degree the power of adapting themselves to a subtropical climate. Discussing the overwhelming superiority in adaptability of the Maltese over the Spaniard, Virchow says that it is derived from the mixture of foreign (Semitic) blood ("Ueber Akklimatisation," in "Verhandlungen der Versammlung der Naturforscher und Aerzte in Strassburg," 1885).

Investigation tends to show that even a little Semitic blood in the veins of nations is a great help in acclimatization, and that the power to adapt themselves to a strange climate is a racial trait of the Jews. Another important point is that while other white races find it advantageous to climation to intermarry with the native races, and while many have shown that this is absolutely necessary for successful climation, the Jews do not, as a rule, inter-marry with their neighbors, and still adapt themselves easily to new climatic conditions. See INTERMARRIAGE.

Suggested Causes.

Some consider that the superior power of climation of the Jews is a racial trait, acquired by their constant migrations, and even their temporary stay in Egypt; and their slow progression ("petit acclimatement") is stated by Bertillon ("Acclimatement," in "Dictionnaire des Sciences Anthropologiques," Paris, 1884) to have had its influence on their power of climation. But Schellong ("Akklimatisation," in Weyl's "Handbuch der Hygiene," 1:334) points out that the center of dispersion of the Jews was in the countries near the Mediterranean, whence they have slowly penetrated into the heart of Europe (an opinion not shared by all authorities on the subject); and that in this manner they have reached the northern countries of Europe, their progression being constantly in the direction of the colder regions, for which less aptitude for climation is necessary.

Another point especially worthy of notice is the fact that the Jews in the tropical countries are not engaged in pursuits requiring much exertion and exposure to the hot rays of the sun. This is especially emphasized by Ripley ("Races of Europe," p. 563), who says that Jews confining all their activities to shops in the towns can not be compared with others who take up the cultivation of the soil.

Another view of the question of the causes of the Jew's power of climation is that his sobriety, purity of home life, and freedom from vicious habits contribute largely to his easy adaptation to a new climate. That there is a great deal of truth in this can not be denied, because it is well known that immigrants in tropical countries are prone to do things which they would not even think of amid the restraints of home life. The English (according to Wallace), who can not give up animal food and the use of spirituous liquors, are less able to sustain the heat of the tropics than the more sober Spaniards and Portuguese. The Boers in South Africa are another example of a people who keep sober and prosper in a tropical land. The sobriety of the Jew is admitted by all, and has undoubtedly a great influence on his adaptability to new climates, although this adaptability seems to be a racial characteristic of the Semites, not dependent upon the merely negative virtue of sober and temperate living.

  • R. Virchow, Akklimatisation, in Verh. Berl. Gesell. für Anthropologie und Ethnologie, 1885, p. 202;
  • A. R. Wallace, Acclimatization, in Encyclop. Britannica;
  • A. Bertillon, Acclimatement, in Dictionnaire des Sciences Anthropologiques, Paris, 1884;
  • Boudin, Traité de Géographie et de Statistique Médicale, Paris, 1857;
  • O. Schellong, Akklimatisation, in Weyl's Handbuch der Hygiene, Jena. 1894;
  • W. Z. Ripley, Races of Europe, New York, 1899.
M. Fi.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Climation'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​c/climation.html. 1901.
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