Is being Jewish religion, ethnicity and/or race? (split from race thread) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-07-2005, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by MollyGoat View Post

I picked "white," though I have some American Indian mixed in there somewhere.



I am also half Jewish, which I consider different from "white", but there isn't another option, so white it is.



I hate that myth. Being Jewish is religious, not racial.

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#2 Old 06-07-2005, 05:55 PM
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So, you're saying non-religious jews aren't really jews? (Not meaning to debate, just being curious.)

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#3 Old 06-07-2005, 06:02 PM
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So, you're saying non-religious jews aren't really jews? (Not meaning to debate, just being curious.)



I'm saying Judaism is a belief system, not a race. You can be white, black, Hispanic and/or Amerindian and be Jewish. You can be Asian and be Jewish. You can be Thargonian and be Jewish.



Non-religious Jews may not practice ritual Judaism, but will still hold certain beliefs. Again, they can be any race at all.

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#4 Old 06-07-2005, 06:02 PM
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I hate that myth. Being Jewish is religious, not racial.

I don't consider it a myth. I am not a religious Jew. Being Jewish is part of my ethnicity, not my religion.
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#5 Old 06-07-2005, 06:04 PM
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I'm saying Judaism is a belief system, not a race. You can be white, black, Hispanic and/or Amerindian and be Jewish. You can be Asian and be Jewish. You can be Thargonian and be Jewish.

Yes, there is a difference between religious Judaism and secular Judaism. It doesn't mean that Judaism doesn't exist as an ethnicity. It's like a Venn diagram--religious Jews in one circle, ethnic Jews in the other, and that overlap in the middle.



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Non-religious Jews may not practice ritual Judaism, but will still hold certain beliefs.

Oh? What beliefs are those?
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#6 Old 06-07-2005, 06:06 PM
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I don't consider it a myth. I am not a religious Jew. Being Jewish is part of my ethnicity, not my religion.



I'm not religious, either. I consider myself a cultural Jew. I embrace secular Jewishness, which is more humanist than religious Judaism.



I am also Caucasian (white).



I didn't mean to knock your racial/ethnic identity. But 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis because the Nazis insisted on spreading the myth that Jews belong to an "inferior race".

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#7 Old 06-07-2005, 06:08 PM
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You didn't answer my question about what beliefs secular Jews supposedly hold.



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I didn't mean to knock your racial/ethnic identity. But 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis because the Nazis insisted on spreading the myth that Jews belong to an "inferior race".



That's neither here nor there. Nazis murdered the Romany (gypsy) people too, on the basis of their being "inferior" racially, but that doesn't mean the Romany are not an ethnic group.
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#8 Old 06-07-2005, 06:10 PM
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You didn't answer my question about what beliefs secular Jews supposedly hold.







That's neither here nor there. Nazis murdered the Romany (gypsy) people too, on the basis of their being "inferior" racially, but that doesn't mean the Romany are not an ethnic group.



Well, you said you were half Jewish, which is a different race. You didn't say different ethnic group. There's a difference between race and ethnic group.

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#9 Old 06-07-2005, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MollyGoat View Post

You didn't answer my question about what beliefs secular Jews supposedly hold.



This sums up my beliefs pretty well. Taken from http://www.sholem.org



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What is Secular Jewishness? The roots of Secular Jewishness reach as far back as the Prophets' opposition to priestly rituals and social injustice...to the liberating rational philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and other thinkers of the Enlightenment...even to the anti-clerical concepts of early Hasidism.



The first secular Jewish organizations arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries both in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere. Those organizations defined the Jews as a people whose history, traditions, values and cultures could be researched and understood rationally, using the methods and insights of modern thought and science. The encompassing term was Yidishkayt -- Jewishness.



From these secularist concepts arose the great Jewish social enterprises of our century: Zionism, communal organization and the Jewish labor/socialist movements. All the great works of modern Yiddish literature and theatre -- which form most of the core of Jewish culture in English and even in modern Hebrew--are permeated by these secularist concepts. So, too, is the overwhelming bulk of Jewish humor, folklore and folk song.



The ethical values system of Secular Jewishness is also derived from these roots. It stresses the principles of social and personal justice enunciated by the Prophets and the progressive, humanistic concepts still developing in contemporary democratic thought. It draws on the understanding, gained from the Jewish historical experience, that the broader and more profound are personal and social rights and liberties in the greater societies where Jews live, the deeper and richer are the potentials for continuity and development of the Jewish people and its culture.



Secular Jews, therefore, have always had a strong commitment--as a matter of enlightened self-interest --to peace, to untrammeled civil and personal liberties and to the rights of every people, nation or ethnic group to dignity and self-determination. Culturally, Secular Jews understand that a significant part of these concepts is reflected in Yiddish literature, including poetry, fiction, theatre, scientific and philosophical works, as well as the incredible richness of Yiddish folklore. Since the bulk of these treasures has not been translated we regard efforts to preserve the Yiddish language as vital to the survival of humanistic Jewish culture. Whenever possible, we use and teach Yiddish. At a minimum, we seek to instill respect for Yiddish and knowledge of its accomplishments and value.


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#10 Old 06-07-2005, 06:17 PM
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I said I considered Jewish to be different from "white," which I do.



Considering that the concept of "race" is totally determined by our ideas about what constitutes a "race" of people, rather than by any specific scientfic differences between "races", I don't consider the difference between race and ethnicity very well-defined, or important.



From Dictionary.com:



race1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rs)

n.

A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.

A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.

A genealogical line; a lineage.



ethnicity



n : an ethnic quality or affiliation resulting from racial or cultural ties; "ethnicity has a strong influence on community status relations"
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#11 Old 06-07-2005, 06:21 PM
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This sums up my beliefs pretty well. Taken from http://www.sholem.org



So, since I'm anti-zionist, and don't make any effort to preserve Yiddish folklore, language, etc. (though I think that's a wonderful effort for people to make), does that mean I'm not "really" a secular Jew?



I do embrace many humanist principles. Is everyone who embraces humanist principles a secular Jew?



This makes no sense to me. I'm Jewish (to some degree, anyway) because my family is Jewish. It's part of my ethnic heritage, and has nothing to do with my personal beliefs or religion.
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#12 Old 06-07-2005, 06:22 PM
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Back on topic please If you would like to continue this, please do so in a different thread.
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#13 Old 06-07-2005, 06:50 PM
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#14 Old 06-07-2005, 06:56 PM
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I think that while judaism isn't a 'race', it is a strong enough religious practice and historically signficant enough as well to be defined as an ethnic group.



I don't like it when people get all hung up on the Jewish question...why does it bother you in the first place? Used to bother my X as well, which annoyed me.



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#15 Old 06-07-2005, 07:53 PM
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Ethnicity is frequently an illusion anyway. 100 years ago, it was pretty important as to whether you were Irish, Scottish, or German. Now it's all, "White (non-Hispanic)"
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#16 Old 06-07-2005, 07:54 PM
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This makes no sense to me. I'm Jewish (to some degree, anyway) because my family is Jewish. It's part of my ethnic heritage, and has nothing to do with my personal beliefs or religion.

But then wouldn't you also be part roman catholic/greek orthodox/muslim/christian/whatever the other part of your family was? I don't want to compromise your feelings and beliefs, and I've felt the same way at times, but if it isn't part of your personal beliefs or religion, wouldn't you jsut have been 'raised Jewish' like people who don't follow catholicism anymore were 'raised catholic'?
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#17 Old 06-07-2005, 08:08 PM
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That bunny is so cute, brownie



(sorry for going off topic )
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#18 Old 06-07-2005, 08:13 PM
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But then wouldn't you also be part roman catholic/greek orthodox/muslim/christian/whatever the other part of your family was? I don't want to compromise your feelings and beliefs, and I've felt the same way at times, but if it isn't part of your personal beliefs or religion, wouldn't you jsut have been 'raised Jewish' like people who don't follow catholicism anymore were 'raised catholic'?



I wasn't "raised Jewish" in the sense of practicing the Jewish religion. I'm secular, my mother is secular, her parents were/are secular. Secularism is a long fine tradition in my family



I identify with the Ashkenazi part of my heritage in the same way that I identify with the Austrian, French, and Irish parts of my heritage on my Dad's side of the family. It's an important part of me and contributed to who I grew up to be, who I will continue growing into. Why should I relinquish my Jewishness just because I don't subscribe to Judaism's religious beliefs? Why am I less Jewish than my Armenian friend is Armenian just because she wears her Armenian-ness on her face, and my Jewishness isn't readily apparent?



(I think I'm seeing a difference emerge here between Jewishness and Judaism...interesting.)
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#19 Old 06-08-2005, 12:58 AM
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I wasn't "raised Jewish" in the sense of practicing the Jewish religion. I'm secular, my mother is secular, her parents were/are secular. Secularism is a long fine tradition in my family



I identify with the Ashkenazi part of my heritage in the same way that I identify with the Austrian, French, and Irish parts of my heritage on my Dad's side of the family. It's an important part of me and contributed to who I grew up to be, who I will continue growing into. Why should I relinquish my Jewishness just because I don't subscribe to Judaism's religious beliefs? Why am I less Jewish than my Armenian friend is Armenian just because she wears her Armenian-ness on her face, and my Jewishness isn't readily apparent?



(I think I'm seeing a difference emerge here between Jewishness and Judaism...interesting.)

I understand now. I don't know why, but this just seems so weird to me, even though it shouldn't be, because what you said makes sense.
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#20 Old 06-08-2005, 01:02 AM
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Jews are Semites. Claiming that Jews and Arabs are different races is like claiming that (white) catholics and (white) protestants are.
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#21 Old 06-08-2005, 01:27 AM
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Well, I certainly agree with that.
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#22 Old 06-08-2005, 09:03 AM
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Ethnicity is frequently an illusion anyway. 100 years ago, it was pretty important as to whether you were Irish, Scottish, or German. Now it's all, "White (non-Hispanic)"





For some people. I know personally when anyone asks me, I say Irish. But most of the people I meet don't even know what they are which is sad really
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#23 Old 06-08-2005, 01:02 PM
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For some people. I know personally when anyone asks me, I say Irish. But most of the people I meet don't even know what they are which is sad really



Well, which great-ancestor do I identify myself with? The Irish Protestants, the English Quakers, the Dutch, the Germans, the Scots? And why is "what they are" defined by an illusion? There is no real biological difference between Catholics and Orangemen. The differences are entirely cultural, because one group has a family history with the Catechism, and the other has a family history with the Book of Common Prayer.



And why is it sad? I have enough family history to fill hundreds of pages. Is it really necessary for me to pin down my identity to an ancestral nationality, that only existed as such because the landlord made a choice between the Pope and Luther for entirely political reasons?



Note that I'm not saying that these cultural differences are an illusion, what I'm saying is the belief that the language your ancestor spoke during worship or at the dinner table, defines some sort of a quasi-biological "ethnicity" is an illusion.
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#24 Old 06-08-2005, 01:07 PM
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I identify with the Ashkenazi part of my heritage in the same way that I identify with the Austrian, French, and Irish parts of my heritage on my Dad's side of the family. It's an important part of me and contributed to who I grew up to be, who I will continue growing into. Why should I relinquish my Jewishness just because I don't subscribe to Judaism's religious beliefs? Why am I less Jewish than my Armenian friend is Armenian just because she wears her Armenian-ness on her face, and my Jewishness isn't readily apparent?



(I think I'm seeing a difference emerge here between Jewishness and Judaism...interesting.)



I'm just the opposite of you. I don't see myself as Jewish when someone asks me my race, but when people meet me, they often assume my race is, "Jewish". I think one of the reasons people consider Jewish a race and not Christian because there are traditional stereotypes of what a Jew looks like, and not so much with Christians. Appearance is one of the ways people guess your race.
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#25 Old 06-08-2005, 01:28 PM
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I'm just the opposite of you. I don't see myself as Jewish when someone asks me my race, but when people meet me, they often assume my race is, "Jewish". I think one of the reasons people consider Jewish a race and not Christian because there are traditional stereotypes of what a Jew looks like, and not so much with Christians. Appearance is one of the ways people guess your race.



Exactly my point. Christians come in all ethnicities and races, but when non Jews are asked what a Jew looks like, they have a stereotypical appearance in mind based on either how they were raised or their encounters with Jews. It doesn't occur to non Jews, at least in Western countries, that a Jew can be Asian or African or have blue eyes and blond hair and a small nose.

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#26 Old 06-08-2005, 01:38 PM
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Well, which great-ancestor do I identify myself with? The Irish Protestants, the English Quakers, the Dutch, the Germans, the Scots? And why is "what they are" defined by an illusion? There is no real biological difference between Catholics and Orangemen. The differences are entirely cultural, because one group has a family history with the Catechism, and the other has a family history with the Book of Common Prayer.



And why is it sad? I have enough family history to fill hundreds of pages. Is it really necessary for me to pin down my identity to an ancestral nationality, that only existed as such because the landlord made a choice between the Pope and Luther for entirely political reasons?



Note that I'm not saying that these cultural differences are an illusion, what I'm saying is the belief that the language your ancestor spoke during worship or at the dinner table, defines some sort of a quasi-biological "ethnicity" is an illusion.



Being raised with such an intense sense of Irish and family pride has shaped me to be the person I am today (spiritually and politically). It has everything to do with how I live my life, how I donate my money, etc. I don't know how to explain it. I just can't imagine not knowing where I came from and not caring.

I honestly don't care what other people think about that *shrug*

To me knowing my ancestry is a vital part of my life. If people want to go through life saying I umm think I'm umm like Irish or something...so be it.
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#27 Old 06-08-2005, 01:42 PM
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To tell the truth, I really couldn't care less about my ancestry. It plays little or no role in my everyday life
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#28 Old 06-08-2005, 01:55 PM
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Being raised with such an intense sense of Irish and family pride has shaped me to be the person I am today (spiritually and politically). It has everything to do with how I live my life, how I donate my money, etc. I don't know how to explain it. I just can't imagine not knowing where I came from and not caring.



Why assume that those people who can't trace their ancestry back to a single "old country" don't have "family pride" don't know where they "came from" and don't care?



And isn't this aside from the point. One can have family pride, one can have pride in the cultures and traditions in which one was raised, and not believe in the myth of biological ethnicity.
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#29 Old 06-08-2005, 01:58 PM
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Why assume that those people who can't trace their ancestry back to a single "old country" don't have "family pride" don't know where they "came from" and don't care?



And isn't this aside from the point. One can have family pride, one can have pride in the cultures and traditions in which one was raised, and not believe in the myth of biological ethnicity.





How can one have pride in cultures and traditions if they don't know what these cultures are? I was specifically talking about people that have no clue and don't care to know. They are just "white" or just "American". I am speaking from firsthand knowledge of people IRL and online.



Again, none of it effects me, as I know who I am and what I stand for. It's just one of those things I'll never understand
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#30 Old 06-08-2005, 02:08 PM
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So if Jewish isn't a racial classification then why do doctors ask about it? My boys grandmother is Jewish. And the ob/gyn and the ped both asked questions about their ancestry. There is a certain Jewish ancestry line that has certain health issues. I can't remember the name of it, but the boys are not related to it. But that certainly makes it seem like Jewish would be a race.



And on the other front - I'm a mutt. I don't know what all heritage I have. Some Native American, in fact I think my great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee, but that is just from anecdotes and pictures. There's some Irish, some German, etc. I've done some investigating into my heritage, but when the people who are older than you either don't know, don't tell, or don't care, it's hard to find out much.



My husband is *mostly* Scottish. And identifies very strongly with that. We travel to festivals and all of that jazz. In fact, I'm pretty sure now that my sons think we are all Scottish, even though he's not their biological father.
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