What does it mean to be Jewish?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by likemyorbs, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. likemyorbs macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #1
    This is a question I've wondered about for a long time now. I decided to post this thread because i noticed that my sociology textbook says "all Jewish people share a common ethnicity". I don't buy this theory. As far as im concerned, Judaism is not an ethnicity, but a religion. This is why some Jews are dark and middle eastern looking while others have blonde hair and blue eyes. To say judiasm is an ethnicity is a bit crazy to me, because if you're Jewish but you don't believe in the religion, does that mean you still have to identify as Jewish? If a jewish person becomes Christian, are they still Jewish? I don't think so. What do you guys think?
     
  2. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #2
    It's generally considered to be both. I'm ethnically Jewish, but religiously, I'm not, I'm Atheist. Can't change the ethnicity, but you can change beliefs. And if someone asks me what religion I am, the answer is always "Atheist".

    Likewise, converts to Judaism are still ethnically whatever else they were, but religiously are Jewish.
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #3
    I would agree and it is sometimes used interchangeably
    While it can be confusing at times, it really does have its place in both arenas
     
  4. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #4
    You may want to reconsider that, as nearly all slurs and stereotypes that exist about jews are related to ethnicity, not religion.
     
  5. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #5
    Right. Anti-Semitic remarks still offend me because 99% of the time they're directed at the ethnicity. But if someone said "Wow, Jews really believe some wacky stuff. Some dude parted the Red Sea? And lived to be 800 years? That's f'ed up!" I'd be the first one agreeing with them.
     
  6. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #6
    Judas. :p
     
  7. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

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    #7
    'Damn, they think it's a good idea to chop what off?!'
     
  8. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #8
    But if it were an ethnicity, then all Jews would share a common look, which they don't. Not all Jews "look Jewish", it's a stereotype.
     
  9. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #9
    Indeed, there were a huge number of converts to Judaism from other ethnicities at various periods.
     
  10. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #10
    Exactly what characteristic are you looking for to be the same? Are you sure that all the Jews you're expecting to "look Jewish" are ethnic Jews?
     
  11. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #11
    Yeah I'm not talking about converts. I'm talking about physical characteristics. Skin tone, eye color, hair color, things like that. And from what I've seen many Jews look so different than non jewish white people. On the other hand, some look like they're from the middle east. Which is why its hard to believe they all share a common ethnicity, as my book words it.
     
  12. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #12
    Ethnic Jews have a lot of common features. For instance, try and find a red-headed or a blonde Jew.
     
  13. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #13
    Easy. I work with one Jew with red hair, brown eyes, and freckles with fair skin, he actually looks Irish. I know another one with blonde hair and blue eyes, looks straight up german. Also, most of the population of the world doesn't have blonde or red hair.
     
  14. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #14
    And they are the exceptions, not the rules.

    Think of famous Jews in media and television, for example: Lewis Black, Natalie Portman, Adam Sandler, John Stewart, and Jerry Seinfeld. All olive complexion with dark hair. The traits are distinguished enough to where you could likely guess someone is ethnically Jewish by looking at them.

    As skunk has stated, they have had a fair amount of converts over the years to diversify their trait pool. Still, if you have a child with both an ethnically Jewish mother and father, they will very likely have the traits above. If you mix an Irish or a Northern European with one of Jewish descent, you'll very likely get a red head and a blonde in there.
     
  15. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #15
    Idk, I live in an area with a high jewish population. And i see a wide variety of physical traits. Maybe some Jews have the "look", but definitely not even close to all. I just don't see how ALL Jews share a common ethnicity
     
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #16
    Careful there, about 1/2 the jews I know, if you saw them in a synagogue, you would wonder why they are there because they don't look jewish at all. Of course, about 1/4 of the jews I know all have dark curly hair and glasses, but they also wear yamikas and tzitzit so... ;)
     
  17. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #17
    Do you consider all Africans to share a common ethnicity? Look at some of the black people who have been in this country because of slave ancestry and compare it with a native African (which is in and of itself misleading due to the wide variety of traits you'll find across the continent). The facial feature differences are often striking.
     
  18. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #18
    My former boss had her DNA traced in one of those large historical database projects. She is blonde as wheat, fair, hazel eyes, and now tells people that the data identifies her as a black Jew.
     
  19. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #19
    Yes, but they all share curly hair, a much darker complexion than europeans and Asians, they all have brown or brownish eyes. So yeah i would consider all Africans to share a common ethnicity, but still not Jews.
     
  20. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #20
    And on the other hand, i know a kid who by his appearance i automatically stereotyped that he was Jewish, I went into the store he was working at on Chanukah, and i asked him, why are you working tonight aren't you Jewish? He pulled out his cross from under his shirt. And no he didn't convert to christianity
     
  21. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #21
    Blewish.
     
  22. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #22
    Heblack.
     
  23. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #23
    Mazzle Tazzle my nizzle.


    On an related note, here's a black and Jewish comedian, Eric Andre.
     

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  24. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #24
    That practice is rooted <snicker> in the dark days before adequate personal hygiene.

    Yes, I make this stuff up. :)

    He's as Black as Obama. :rolleyes:

    Being a Jew flows from the Mother alone. Mixed marriages produce all sorts of colourful Jews. I don't see a problem with that.
     
  25. likemyorbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #25
    Yeah, it's actually beyond me how the practice became so mainstream among non-jewish americans.
     

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