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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:07 pm
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What makes you Jewish?

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Can you be Jewish because both of your parents are Jewish? How about if one of them is Jewish? How about if a grandparent is Jewish?

Can you be Jewish because you believe in their religion? What about if you don't, but you still celebrate the holidays and culture?

Can you be/become Jewish if you're not from the bloodline, or is some form of bloodline required?

Can you be an atheist and still be Jewish? Can you ascribe to any other religious views outside of Judaism and still be Jewish? Is Jesus off limits?

You can see what I'm getting at. Is there a commonly accepted set of rules for determining if you can "officially" (if that even exists) be Jewish or not?

I'm of full Jewish decent genetically speaking and I just joined the Jewish usergroup because of that. I lack belief in the Jewish religion though. I'm willing to leave the user group if it's meant for those who are Jewish by religiou belief. In it's description it literally just says "Jewish" lol, so I don't know.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:24 pm
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Who is Jewish?

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Haven't been around for awhile, but I thought someone should answer this.

Traditionally -- and Judaism IS tradition: we have no dogmas -- one can be or become Jewish in two and only two ways: by being born to a Jewish mother, or by undergoing a formal ritual of conversion under the authority of a Bet Din (a Jewish rabbinical court).

On the first: if your mother was Jewish, you're a Jew, whether you practice the religion or not. Many Jews who proudly identify as Jews are entirely nonobservant and may even be atheists (not the same thing; more on that anon). It's as much a culture and an heritage as a religion, maybe more. Even if one converts to another religion, one remains a Jew; but one is no longer practicing the Jewish religion.

Some Reform congregations now recognize patrilineal descent, that is, recognizing that one is Jewish if one's FATHER is Jewish and not one's mother. This is a matter of some controversy between the branches and within the Reform movement itself.

On the other route: As one goes through the conversion process, which generally takes from one to five years, one learns about Jewish history, traditions, and a broad spectrum of belief, from extreme Biblical literalism to de facto atheism; but one is never told what one must or should believe. That is an entirely personal decision. (I should note here that I do not speak for or about the Orthodox. Much of what I say here holds for them as well, but my own experience and reading have been in the Conservative -- which is actually liberal -- and Reform communities.)

Belief is truly irrelevant in Judaism. In the Jewish religion, even the word "religious" has a different meaning; it refers to one's practices -- attending services, celebrating holidays, that sort of thing -- and not to one's beliefs. One may hear, "She's very religious, but she doesn't believe in God." Or, "He studies Torah all day and writes about Judaism for a living, but he's not religious."

Then there is the term "observant," which is different still; that refers to ritual observance, such as keeping Kosher, fasting, the Family Purity laws, that sort of thing -- and just as with belief, there is a wide spectrum of possibilities there as well.

As I say, belief is irrelevant. One cannot become, or claim to be, a Jew because one believes or even lives and practices as a Jew. I've often compared it to becoming a citizen of a country: one is born so, or one is MADE so by the action of a court. Like it or not, there are no other options.

The Bet Din, by the way, is normally no big deal. It's usually chaired by the rabbi who is instructing one, and he won't convene the court till he's sure you're ready.

I hope all this helps. I'll be happy to answer questions -- I'm no rabbi, but I am what we call a "learned layman" -- but none of this is up for debate. None of this is opinion; these are settled matters of Jewish law, no more debatable than the rules and definitions in secular law. Whether any part of these laws and practices is right or just -- well, that's another question, and one I'm not particularly interested in, for reasons of my own, and I have no intention of going there.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:10 pm
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Re: Who is Jewish?

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Hi Charles! Nice to see you!

cnorman19 wrote:


Even if one converts to another religion, one remains a Jew; but one is no longer practicing the Jewish religion.


Idea Ahhhhh! Now I understand why some people call themselves Jewish Christians!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:15 am
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In view of overall disengagement from institutions, I think people are providing themselves various options in terms of identity. While a shul or an Israeli court may not recognize a particular person as Jewish, people increasingly are self-identifying as they wish...and others often accept it. I think the most serious version of this is where people conduct their lives ethically and politically based on Jewish values. They may not at all publicly refer to Jewish identity, but in their internal thought processes count Jewish values as foundational.

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