What Are Jews, Exactly?

Dec 15, 2017 | | Say something

What are Jews, exactly? (The correct question has been asked!):

“The rabbis of the Talmud declared that anyone who despises idol worship is called a Jew. Jews or Israelites are understood to be “God wrestlers.” Jews challenge authority even as they honor law, they value debate and dialogue and understand all who walk this earth to have been created in the image of the Divine.” – Rabbi Avram Mlotek, Orthodox, Co-Founder of Base Hillel

This first one best represents me! I give no honor to any human-made god – whether of legend found in a book, a god in human flesh or in nature, or of human artistic carving. No idol worship, period! … Let’s continue…

“Jews are not a race because there are white jews, black jews, and everything in between. We are absolutely a religion, but definitely not just a religion because there are plenty of atheist Jews and secular Jews, who are just as Jewish as Moses.” – Rabbi Shmuly Boteach, Orthodox, Author of “Judaism For Everyone”

“Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Falasha, Secular Humanistic, Reform, Orthodox, Israeli, “Diaspora,” in-married, intermarried — what do you call a group with widely different beliefs, lifestyles and practices that claims the same identity? “Tribe” is too tribal, “ethnicity” is too exclusive and “religion” is just one dimension of Jewish identity, more often in the breach than the observance. Maybe the most appropriate is “family.”” – Rabbi Adam Chalom, Humanistic, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

“There are two pillars, however, to maintaining a sense of peoplehood. One is the classic… The other is modern… a Jew is someone who identifies with the Jewish past and present, and also expects that his/her grandchildren will identify with the Jewish future.” – Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Orthodox, Cross-Currents

“It is a mistake to suggest that Judaism is simply a religion, parallel to Christianity (or to talk about a Judeo-Christian tradition) — that erases much of who we are… A major component of anti-Semitism has long been the difficulty for most of the world of figuring out who Jews are. The desire to put us into the “religion” box leads to confusion and anger when we refuse to stay in that box, but rather to self-define, and to live our full selves in the world.” – Rabbi Jill Jacobs , Conservative, T’ruah

“… we are a religion, culture, ethnicity, nation, civilization, people… But we should not use the term race… we, of all people, should be among the first to let it go.” – Rabbi Nina H. Mandel, Reconstructionist, Congregation Beth El-Sunbury, PA

“The umbrella of membership is wide and inclusive. A secular Jew who helps the poor is fulfilling a mitzvah. A secular Israeli tilling the land on a nonreligious kibbutz is doing God’s will. We are a vast system, and the religious component is central, though not essential, for affiliation.” – Rabbi Shalom Lewis, Conservative, Congregation Etz Chaim

“Jews are a people, a religion and a culture. Certainly some Jews identify more with one or another aspect; that is the complexity and beauty of Judaism. The multi-layered nature of Jewishness is is at the root of the history of Jewish survival in the face of anti-Semitism, adversity and oppression as well as the instinct to continue to explore and create, even in difficult times.” – Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, Conservative, New Israel Fund, NY

“We are many things, but perhaps the one word that encompasses all that we are is: FAMILY… Despite all of our differences, what we must never forget is: WE ARE FAMILY.” – Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, Orthodox, Beth Tfiloh Congregation

We Asked 23 Rabbis: What Are Jews, Exactly?
As a part of our Rabbi Roundtable series, we brought together leading rabbis from all corners of the Jewish world to offer their thoughts on the big questions. This week, we asked our rabbis, “What are Jews? — a race, a religion, a culture, an ethnicity, a nation….?” Here are their responses:…

#Jews #Jewish #Secular #Atheist #Conservative #Orthodox #Israel #Judaism

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