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Thread: What is a Jew?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Aliyah1995's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Judaism is NOT a race. If it were it would be impossible to join it. Nor do all Jews "look alike". In the IDF, I have served with Russian blonde haired, blue eyed Jews, Yemenite olive skinned Jews, Ethiopian dark skinned Jews, and Jews from India who look almost Asian.

    It is true Judaism is not just a religion, as my parents (who are not religious) can attest to, but Judaism is definitely not a "race" either.
    "Study astronomy and physics if you desire to comprehend the relation between the world and G-d's management of it." - RaMBaM (Maimonides), Guide For The Perplexed

  2. #62
    Senior Member dayag's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    I still say we are a tribe. Some were born to it and some were adopted into it.
    "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (Ps. 137: 5-7)"

    "Any generation in which the Temple is not built, it is as if it had been destroyed in their times" (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1a).

  3. #63
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Jews are a nation.

    A nation is a community of people who share a common past AND/OR a common future.

  4. #64
    Senior Member Kachah's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Jews are a race or or an ethnicity. Ask Mr Hitler or check the Law of Return - they don't care much for the religion while focusing on who your grandparents were. By the way the antisemitic cartoonists always picture Jews with the characteristic hooked noses - if we are not a race how is it that our noses formed alike?
    Jokes aside, we are obviously not 100% pure - but none of the modern nations are. And, we are bound by the combination of religion and traditions on top of our ethnicity. And yes, we intermarry and accept converts - which would not alter dramatically our genotype by sheer insignificance of their numbers, but certainly add ethnic variety. Exception probably are the Ethiopian Jews who do not come from the same ethnic root.
    People who are advocating that the Jews don't exist as a race or ethnicity are generally the ones who question the need for Jewish home and the legitimacy of ISrael - the modern Left. They have some weird and downright crazy theories - e.g. that the Ashkenazim are in fact the Khazars or, as I have recently been told, that the "Russian" Jews are in fact the descendants of the Slav Russians who had converted to Judaism. It's bizarre. The person who had told me that was the same one who asked if my surname was German when we met (indeed, many Ashkenazim surnames do sound German pointing to the place of origin). In fact I have recently watched on youtube an interview with some "rabbi" from Russia (wearing kippah et al) who was adamant that the Jews are not an ethnic group and are only connected by religion. I was only wondering what his current rank in the KGB was and if this interview would help his promotion in this reputable academic organization.
    Millions of people in his beloved Russia/USSR were carrying the stamp "Jew" in their IDs (yours truly included) without even setting foot in the schule once - yet we are still some "sect" with no national aspirations. We were recognizing each while entering the room fool of different people, we could be discussing our endemic Jewish questions queing up for smoked ham in a butcher shop in Moscow or Kharkov, we were bullied in schools and rejected a good job later on in life - just because our names didn't look right -and we are still some weird bunch of religious freaks. Bite me.

  5. #65
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    Judaism is NOT a race. If it were it would be impossible to join it. Nor do all Jews "look alike". In the IDF, I have served with Russian blonde haired, blue eyed Jews, Yemenite olive skinned Jews, Ethiopian dark skinned Jews, and Jews from India who look almost Asian.

    It is true Judaism is not just a religion, as my parents (who are not religious) can attest to, but Judaism is definitely not a "race" either.
    The color of hair, skin and eyes are not the only attributes that distinguish one race from another. Usually even if both may be blond and blue eyed you can still distinguish a Russian Jew from a Russian. By the same token you can still find similarities between the Russian-, Yemenite-, Ethiopian- and Asian Jew in the shape of the face, the shape of their eyes, the shape of the nose and lips, for men the way the beard grows ... etc. Non of it is a "precise science" of course and there are always exceptions. Jews have been scattered all across the globe for 2000 years and as much as the really religious are reluctant to mix with other people, during such a long time of course they have mixed with their "host" (although often times "hostile") nations.
    But you can definitely tell that an Ethiopian Jew is different from an Ethiopian in spite of the dark skin. And a European Jew is different from a European in spite of the blond hair and the blue eyes.
    Judaism is not just a race. And yes, it is possible to join the religion even if you do not belong to the race. And yes you and your children will then be known as Jews. However, as pointed out before, you can also be a Jew without following the religion. I think it is undeniable that Jews started of as a collection of middle eastern tribes... this does not mean every Jew can trace his or her ancestry to these tribes, but most still can, even if other tribes are also in their ancestry.

  6. #66
    Senior Member Aliyah1995's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    I can agree with the Jews being considered a "people" or a "nation". However, I cannot agree that the Jews are a race. A race is a group you cannot join or leave. If I wanted to convert to being black or Asian it aint going to happen. However one can join a nation (through naturalization). Again, I know there are Jews who are not religious. I used to be one; the rest of my family still are.

    Regarding who Hitler considered to be a Jew, I couldn't give a rat's arse. Regarding the Law Of Return, there is also a stipulation for converts in it, so if you want to go that route, you have to admit the LOR also rejects the "racial" definition of who is a Jew. While it is true that descendant of Jews (down to having even one Jewish grandparent) are included in the LOR, this would be more comparable to the definition of who is an American, rather than considering the Jews a race. Also, the LOR rejects as Jews those who have taken on another religion (also CLEARLY rejecting the "racial" definition).
    "Study astronomy and physics if you desire to comprehend the relation between the world and G-d's management of it." - RaMBaM (Maimonides), Guide For The Perplexed

  7. #67
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    I can agree with the Jews being considered a "people" or a "nation". However, I cannot agree that the Jews are a race. A race is a group you cannot join or leave. If I wanted to convert to being black or Asian it aint going to happen. However one can join a nation (through naturalization). Again, I know there are Jews who are not religious. I used to be one; the rest of my family still are.
    Alright, I'll bite:
    No it wont work if I wanted to "convert" to being black. But if as a white guy a married a black woman would any children not also be black even if of mixed blood?
    Aside from that, it has already been established that of course Judaism is different from being black, because there is no religion associated with being black.
    As I mentioned before there are still physical characteristics common to (most-) Jews (obviously not applying to new converts unless they have a Jewish ancestry). Almond shaped eyes for example, or as mentioned by several posters the "hooked nose", shape of the face, etc. Where do these features come from if there is no racial aspect to being Jewish?
    On the other hand what are people like my wife (or as you mentioned your family)? She is Jewish and proud of it, but she is not religious, she bakes cookies for Passover and donuts for Hanukkah, but that's about as far as it goes.
    So by your definition are these people Jewish? And why? It is not the religion in this case, what makes them Jewish?

    Although I do admit that "race" may be too strong a word. Perhaps more of an ethnic group with a largely common racial background?

  8. #68
    Senior Member Aliyah1995's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Dunno, I have seen Jews that would be mistaken by Hitler for being 100% Aryan and non-Jews that make Woody Allen look Aryan.

    According to Jewish Law, if you wife was born to a Jewish mother she is Jewish for ALL time. That is Jewish Law. There are plenty of Americans who don't know the pledge of allegiance, who the current President is, or where on a map of America their state is located. Does this mean they are not American?

    Describing the Jews as an Ethnic group I am more open to. I am also open to describing the Jews as a "tribe". "Race" for Jews just does not add up for me.

    In answer to your first question, it is not for ME to say what race children born to one white parent and one black parent are. Ask them.
    "Study astronomy and physics if you desire to comprehend the relation between the world and G-d's management of it." - RaMBaM (Maimonides), Guide For The Perplexed

  9. #69
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    Dunno, I have seen Jews that would be mistaken by Hitler for being 100% Aryan and non-Jews that make Woody Allen look Aryan.
    Well I did say before it is of course not a precise science (neither should it be). I am a non-Jew who looks very Jewish at least according to my wife and her family as well as some other acquaintances in Israel. Of course I can still make the claim that one of my great grandmothers was Jewish and I do look a lot like her son (my grandfather). So those non-Jews may be more Jewish than they thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    According to Jewish Law, if you wife was born to a Jewish mother she is Jewish for ALL time. That is Jewish Law. There are plenty of Americans who don't know the pledge of allegiance, who the current President is, or where on a map of America their state is located. Does this mean they are not American?
    Yes I am aware of this Jewish Law. Luckily the Nazis were not so my grandfather was still considered a 3rd class citizen. So my wife then is Jewish by law, but not otherwise? As for Americans it is a slightly different situation, we are after all discussing whether or not Jews are a race, not Israelis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    Describing the Jews as an Ethnic group I am more open to. I am also open to describing the Jews as a "tribe". "Race" for Jews just does not add up for me.
    Well then we can come to some level of agreement. I guess the race (at least the root of it) would be semitic, which however includes a lot of other Middle Easterners, both current and historic. So let me withdraw the claim that Jews are a race in and off themselves, that was not so well thought through.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    In answer to your first question, it is not for ME to say what race children born to one white parent and one black parent are. Ask them.
    I don't have to, because this was my point. One of my dad's friends is half Danish and half Cree (First Nations in Canada). He looks very native American and chose to identify himself as "Cree". His sister, if you ask her is "Danish". And they can both make their respective claims, because they are both. (OK, I guess by Jewish Law they would then both be Cree...)

  10. #70
    Senior Member Aliyah1995's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Let me ask you this: if the Jews look so much alike (or, at least, have such common features, like "almond shaped eyes" or "hooked noses" as you say), then why did the Jews have to wear the yellow star in Nazi Europe to identify them. Aside from some exceptions (like you said, it is not an exact science), shouldn't it have been easy to identify who is a Jew and who isn't (at least 98% of the time) by their "common features"?
    "Study astronomy and physics if you desire to comprehend the relation between the world and G-d's management of it." - RaMBaM (Maimonides), Guide For The Perplexed

  11. #71
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    Let me ask you this: if the Jews look so much alike (or, at least, have such common features, like "almond shaped eyes" or "hooked noses" as you say), then why did the Jews have to wear the yellow star in Nazi Europe to identify them. Aside from some exceptions (like you said, it is not an exact science), shouldn't it have been easy to identify who is a Jew and who isn't (at least 98% of the time) by their "common features"?
    Well I am not sure I would reach a 98% accuracy, probably closer to 60% or maybe 70%.
    I think you are part of the answer to your own question. Most people identify race by "striking" characteristics like hair color, skin color, eye color and often miss the other characteristics. Germans/Nazis are no different, if anything their own racism made them more blind to these "finer points" than they could have been. Thus the yellow star, it was for the racists who couldn't even identify the ones they hated.
    I don't know, for some reason I can identify ethnic backgrounds by looks, to some extend so can my wife at least when it comes to whether or not someone is Jewish.
    I often can also distinguish between Koreans, Japanese and Chinese, which a lot of people I know cannot.
    To a lesser extend I can even tell apart members of several of the European nations. Germans to me on the average look German, Brits look British, the French look French and Slavs look Slavic (although so far I'm not able to place the latter into their respective nations).
    So no, Jews do not "look so much alike", but they do have common features and these common features (often-) can be observed also between otherwise radically different Jews (like between the Russian and Ethiopian Jews).

    I don't know how exactly to explain it, because often times I can't exactly pin point what makes someone look Jewish (or German or British etc.) to me... they just do. The characteristics I mentioned were actually identified by my wife and since she mentioned them I became aware of it that yes, these factors probably play a role in it.

  12. #72
    Senior Member Kachah's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliyah1995 View Post
    why did the Jews have to wear the yellow star in Nazi Europe to identify them."
    They looked like stars, Aliyah, but they meant to be targets, that's why.

  13. #73
    Senior Member Kachah's Avatar
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shl View Post
    ... Brits look British, ..
    Though I agree with most of your points I am not sure how this one works. But otherwise, very well said.

  14. #74
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    Re: What is a Jew?

    Jews are an ethno-religious group.

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    Re: What is a Jew?

    judeus sao os que comeram do mana e das bolinhas brancas no deserto,e aterra prometida as judeus onde mana leite e mel...

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