Wikipedia says there are more than 14 million Jews in the world today.
The LDS statistical report, read in general conference this year, says there are more than 14 million Mormons in the world.
And it is not just the numbers that invite comparisons.
Both have been spoken of (seriously and devotedly by members and mockingly by detractors) as a "chosen people."
Both have periods of polygamy in their history.
Both have produced books of sacred scripture.
Both have spread and scattered throughout the world, yet both have had times of gathering.
Both (we think few would argue) are exceptionally family-oriented.
Both have memberships that are highly and disproportionately accomplished in many fields — science, the arts, business, politics, etc.
Both await the coming of the Messiah, though Jews believe it will be his first coming and Mormons believe it will be his second.
Both believe they are a people of destiny and will factor significantly in the final and closing chapters of this Earth.
While the Mormons embrace a proselytizing faith that is growing rapidly and the number of Jews (who do not proselyte) in the world is leveling off, both see themselves as catalysts or as the "leaven in the loaf" that will spark events and changes that will influence all mankind.
Perhaps all these similarities (and even the differences of degree) can be explained by three things:
1. History and tradition
Both have a history of prominence and of persecution that has strengthened bonds and identity.
The tradition of excellence and family support and solidarity has existed much, much longer with Jews and this to some degree accounts for their much larger number of world renowned professionals, artists and scientists.
Both are founded on truth, and a great body of that truth, the Old Testament, is shared in the conviction of both. Truth about values, priorities and commandments (which we like to think of as "loving council from a wise Father"). Mormons, in addition, believe in two other testaments.
This is a column on family, and you may have wondered if we would ever get to it today. But here we are. We think that, in many ways, Mormon and Jewish families may be the strongest in the world — not only immediate, nuclear families, but extended families. Of course, there are many peoples and many faiths that have wonderful histories of strong, enduring families. But when it comes to roots, to priorities, to blood being thicker than water, and to extended family pride and interest in one another, it is hard to find more constant and enduring examples than Jews and Mormons.
Let us close all these similarities with one very large and very troubling difference. It is no longer permissible (or politically correct) to criticize, insult, undermine or in any way defame Jews. There is even a very condemning word for any of this type of behavior: "anti-Semitism."
Unfortunately, Mormons do not yet have such a word, and seem to be fair game for any kind of slander, belittlement or condemnation anyone wants to throw at them. Take any criticism or barb or prejudicial comment you have seen leveled against Mormons lately, and substitute the word "Jews" and you have a highly unacceptable statement.
Still, as Mormons, we know who we are, and we to a large extent manage to forgive the world which does not yet know us. Thankful for our history, our truth and our families, we carry on, at least somewhat confident that our children tomorrow will be less criticized and more admired for their faith than we are today.
Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.valuesparenting.com, or read Linda's blog at www.deseretnews.com. Their three latest books are "The Entitlement Trap," "5 Spiritual Solutions" and "The Three Deceivers."