I know I'm gonna sound racist here, that is most certainly NOT my intent, but dangitall I can't put this together in a better fashion...
In another thread I see that Jewish folks don't consider themselves a race. As Judaism is a theology / philosophy, it may include folks as diverse as humanity itself, on that there can be no argument.
What I wonder though, is the deal where a person born to a Jewish mother is considered Jewish. Doesn't this imply a race?
I realize Wikipedia is not the be all and end all here, but I searched it for "Jewish Race" specifically, and was redirected to...
Wikipedia: Jews wrote:
The Jews (Hebrew: ×™Ö°×”×•Ö¼×“Ö´×™×�â€Ž "Yehudim" IPA: jÉ›huË�diË�m), also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation. Converts to Judaism, whose status as Jews within the Jewish ethnos is equal to those born into it, have been absorbed into the Jewish people throughout the millennia.
Doesn't "ethnoreligious" indicate such as "Some Jews are of a race
", while leaving open the fact that some Jewish members are of other races?
I swear I don't mean to be insulting, but I think of some of the physical stereotypes ('characters' in biology speak), and let's be real, there is some small inkling that we could identify a person as "jewish" (small 'j' to remove religion/philosophy) by some of these physical stereotypes (agreeing that it's not 100% accurate or even close to it). Is this where we differentiate between Jew
, and Hebrew
? I really don't know, so please don't hate on me.
Is there a particular issue with considering at least some Jews as being of a Jewish race - especially where there is no nefarious intent?
Again, I'm sorry if I come across as racist, and hopefully this discussion can be enlightening to myself and others.
Not to worry, Joey, you've established yourself as a friend of my people for some years now. Let me see if I can help.
Sure, there is an ethnic component to Judaism, for many Jews; but the fact that the Jewish people have accepted genealogically unrelated converts from the beginning pretty much eliminates the idea of a "Jewish race" from consideration. The Jews began as one person's family, but brought in others from the very beginning. Abraham circumcised the people who lived with and worked for him, and the "mixed multitude" that left Egypt with the Hebrews during the Exodus have been regarded as converts since that time. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of references to "the strangers who live among you" in the OT as well. King David himself was descended from a Moabite woman, and Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph and the founders of the two half-tribes that bear their names, were born to an Egyptian woman. Further, some of the children of Abraham and Isaac were not considered Hebrews, even in the Bible itself. Ishmael wasn't, and he was Abraham's firstborn; and traditionally the Edomites were descended from Esau, Isaac's twin, and they were Israel's enemies.
Think of it this way. My last name is Norman, which is of Scottish extraction; but my name is not what makes me Caucasian, nor vice versa. The fact that I was born to a Scottish-descended mother and father (I'm Scots on both sides) doesn't make me white, either, and the fact that I'm white doesn't make me either a Scot or a Norman. I have cousins who are of Amerind extraction, specifically Cherokee; I probably have cousins I don't know about who are descended from the same people I am descended from, but are the descendants of their slaves and are now considered African-American (I don't know that, but any white family that has lived in the South since the Revolution, as the Normans have, probably does). Descent doesn't determine race;
even if a Jew IS descended directly from Aaron (last name Cohen, Katz or related), that doesn't make that person a member of a Jewish "race." There are African blacks who are descended from Aaron, or are at least related to the other Cohens of Ashkenazic (European) Jewish descent. That has been proven by their bearing a certain genetic marker.
Many Jews ARE of Middle Eastern descent, and the stereotypical look of those Jews is well known; but I taught kids in the Jewish school where I used to work who were, to all appearances, blond, blue-eyed Swedes. One Jewish family was from India, members of a very ancient Jewish community there, and who had THAT "look;" and two children who were ethnically black, the children of a convert, and who were as Jewish, by Jewish law, as any Cohen.
The opposite is true, too; there are lots of people who "look Jewish," and aren't, and haven't been for generations. There was a Levy family in my home town; they had the classic hooked nose and allathat, too -- but they were Baptists, and so were their grandparents. You can't get OUT of being a member of a "race" any more than you can JOIN a "race."
Actually, the fact that we accept converts at all
eliminates the idea of a Jewish "race." Can you think of another "race" that you can JOIN? Can you convert and be black tomorrow? How about a black converting and becoming Caucasian? Asian? How about Native American? Australoid? Good luck with that.
And therein lies the clue, and the concern. The idea of a Jewish "race" was promoted by antisemites, for the specific reason that a person's race cannot be changed.
The intent of the Nazis was to exterminate
Jews, and that could only be done if Judaism was a matter of bloodline. Previous persecutions, like those of the Inquisition and the Czarists in Russia, only went after religious Jews.
Converts to Judaism were persecuted as fiercely as born Jews -- but converts FROM Judaism to Christianity were spared.
But the Nazis gassed people who had one Jewish great-grandparent
and whose families had been Christians for generations; many former Catholics who had converted to Judaism were ignored. That only works if Judaism is regarded as something genetic,
which was absolutely the Nazis' belief and policy.
The idea that Judaism is racially determined
is factually, biologically and anthropologically false; but that's not why it's offensive to us. It's offensive because it's most often found in the context of Judaism being analogous to a genetic disease.
It's no accident that the first reference made by the poster who got in trouble for this was to Muslims and Nazis. That's where you find this idea most often. It's actually pretty hard to find support for the idea of a "Jewish race" anywhere OTHER than from antisemitic and hate sites.