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Is a Self-Hating Jew Still a Jew?

Is a Self-Hating Jew Still a Jew?

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Question:

I recently saw a “Jewish” professor speaking at an anti-Israel rally. I’ll spare you the details of what he said, but you can see some of his statements on Youtube to get the sense of his sentiments toward Jewish people and Israel. When I voiced my disgust to a friend who knew him as a child, I learned that his parents converted to Catholicism back in Europe, he never had a circumcision or a bar mitzvah, and he is married to a non-Jewish woman. He claims in his speeches that he is a Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor. He may be the son of a survivor, but can we say once and for all that he is not Jewish?

Response:

I share your disgust. But I also have to marvel at such a person. He is a vivid illustration of the indestructibility of the Jewish soul.

Here is a guy who could easily identify as a non-Jew, and has every reason to. His parents converted to another religion, he married out, he reviles everything Jewish, and he sides with the enemy of the Jewish people.

So why doesn’t he just drop the whole Jewish thing altogether?

Because he can’t. Being Jewish can’t be dropped. It is a Jew’s deepest identity. Whether you love it or hate it, it will always be there. No conversion can change that.

And so, in a twisted way, he expresses his Jewishness by being the anti-Jewish Jew.

Yes, he is using his Jewishness as a weapon against Jews.

No, he should not be invited to speak at any Jewish event.

But yes, he is a Jew.

People like that can do a huge amount of damage. But the biggest damage is to themselves. Here is a Jewish soul yearning to connect to Jewishness, who has blocked his own path. Here is someone whose primary preoccupation, whose main claim to fame, is his Jewishness, but a tormented Jewishness. Rather than embrace it, he fights it. He is an accomplice in his own persecution.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Feigele Boca Raton FL May 13, 2016

Feelings do not change the color of your skin! and yes, even Jews can be very stubborn and lack compassion. If you made some mistakes (and I'm not saying you did) adults are supposed to come to reason and judge a person on them apologizing/explaining their sorry rather than condemn them with no pity. Sorry, it is very sad to see some people Jewish or not acting like children Reply

Anonymous Texas May 12, 2016

Whom is damaging whom? As a Jewish convert with a magical relationship with the people I never knew existed and felt more like family than my biological family and wow the light of Torah I had always searched and longed for I finally found. At last I found the life path I was meant to be part of. Then the gossip and lies started and people began to push me away and eventually I was banned never to return. No trial, no evidence, only execution. Still I thought in time whatever was said will be cleared up and I can go back to my people, my life. It's going on 3 years of me giving it time, explaination, begging, now resentment, dislike, disgust, and hatred. I too come off as a self hating Jew when I am really begging for someone to please help me get back what was wrongfully ripped from me and hidden away forever. How am I supposed to possibly make teshuva when my own people actively keep me from my happiness in mitzvos who is really damaging whom and causing increasing damage to a Jewish soul at that point? Reply

Anonymous Eretz Israel October 14, 2014

Consider… If he WASN'T a Jew he wouldn't be considered "so bad" as he currently is.
BECAUSE he is a Jew he has the responsibility of stopping his hatred all the more so. Reply

Joyce Oxfeld Philadelphia October 14, 2014

Very interesting. As I said before, , if you are a Jew, you can run , but you cannot hide. Reply

PeterL Michigan, United States October 14, 2014

"Is a self-hatinging Jew still a Jew" response I am alittle confused. I thought that if a Jew converts to Christianity by choice they no longer Jewish. If a child is born to that person after they had converted, then that person is not Jewish because they would be born to a non-Jewish mother. If a person is born to a mother who convert to Christianity is still Jewish, then if they (child of the convert who was raised Christian) were female would their children also be Jewish as well? I am alittle confused? Reply

Dona October 14, 2014

I just recently discovered my ancestry and I'm saddened it wasn't discussed. Some family members feel our history was unknown, but with certain customs we were told were Spanish, medical conditions that are Jewish, and family members that have chosen to live in Israel, I feel it just wasn't spoken of. I have Ashkenazi and Sephardi ancestry. Reply

Sarah ben Avraham USA October 8, 2014

The Anti-Jewish Jew Since Judaism is a way of life and the "Jew" is not a race but a way of life, I do not see a Jew hating man who professes Catholicism as his parents religion, rejecting practicing the gift of the Tree of Life as his forefathers did as authentically Jewish. Yes he was born into the line of the 12 tribes and yes he could have all the richness of Life aboundant but until he decides to receive it he is a confused man in the world. God in His mercy will change his heart at some point. When is up to him. Reply

Anonymous October 7, 2014

No, he is using his Jewish blood as a tool to fight a people and faith that he hates. It is not his deepest identity. He is cynically using the fact of his blood to be regarded as an expert. It gives him more credibility. But is an evil thing indeed. Reply

Heather USA October 7, 2014

What is the proper response to such people? What do you recommend? Reply

Anonymous October 6, 2014

Thanks for posting this. Love the way Judaism is. Reply

Anonymous coconut creek October 6, 2014

here is a letter from a self hating jew who i know,,,,, Please, please, please don't wish me a shana tova or a happy new year in either language. I am not a Jew any more. I was excommunicated by an Orthodox rabbi and if I hadn't been excommunicated I would have quit. I am a cult survivor. Do you want to pretend that Zionism and Judaism are two different things? OK, if one practices true Judaism they are, but in the Jewish universe I was raised in, separating Zionism and Judaism is unimaginable. Our Judaism was defined as support for Israel. And those Jews who oppose Zionism, the Neturei Karta, for example, are a despised and marginalized minority. And even they believe in exile and return. They are just waiting for the messiah to provide return. And that's the problem. Judaism is fundamentally exilic. But in my soul, I am not in exile. I am of European heritage living in the US. The only thing that connects me to "Israel" is friends- and they are Palestinian. So am I a Jew? Judaism sets the Jews as a people apart. But in my soul I do not want to be apart from the rest of humanity. So am I a Jew? Judaism says that I am "chosen", that my soul was at Sinai where I entered into a covenant with God, and that my wife and daughter, who are not Jewish, were not at Sinai, are not chosen, did not enter into that covenant. Judaism actually separates me from my family. OK, I was not supposed to "marry out" but I did. And that's just one more way Judaism separates. Judaism claims belief in One God, but I don't see it. What I see is the very idolatry forbidden by Judaism. What I see is worship of Jewish tribal identity and the Jewish state. What I see is narcissism, obsession with Jewish victimization, whining about "the holocaust" while they are committing another holocaust in Palestine. What I see is a tribal mental illness, a shameful denial of massive criminal behavior, while acting like they have a monopoly on being the victim. I can't be part of this sickness. I believe in One God, and that belief directs me to embrace all men and women as my brothers and sisters, and all children as my children. So while Jews are dropping bombs on the children of Gaza, can I call myself a Jew? So please don't wish me a shana tova. I will celebrate the new year with you, on January 1. Thank you Reply

Norton Mezvinsky New York City October 6, 2014

Knowing no more about this person than is given in the above question, we should in fairness not label him a self-hating or Jewish hating Jew, who is doing damage to Jews. That he had neither a circumcision nor a bar-mitzvah, that he converted to Catholicism and that he married a non-Jewish woman do not necessarily mean that he hates and is doing damage to Jews. We do not know what the alleged anti-Israel rally was. If this professor was merely criticizing Zionism, Israel's oppression of Palestinians and the exclusive nature of Israel as a Jewish state, he should not be considered anti-Jewish for expressing such opinions. Indeed, he may have been correct in his criticism(s) from both humanitarian and Jewish perspectives. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL October 6, 2014

Getting back at us for feeling as an outcast! We certainly don’t need bad reputation and especially not coming from one of us. Having his parents converted does that make him also a converted too? By claiming that he is a Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor, it seems to me that he is hurting for not having properly been raised as such, thus craving for some kind of recognition as a Jew by discriminating his people for not having taken care of him in this way. Where does that hate come from? Did some Jewish people/parents really hurt him so badly while growing up that he hates us so much and doesn’t care how or who he is hurting. I am sure in his soul he absolutely feels Jewish but has no ways of materializing it, so he uses reversed psychology as a cry for his origins.People who can’t get what they envy, reject it completely. His deepest wish might be to be recognized as a Jew and act as such. Reply

Anonymous Holland and Israel October 6, 2014

Jews are much loved too All right, there are self hating Jews and anti-semites. Yet there are millions of believers from a christian background that pray for the Jews, for their land and for the peace of Jerusalem as commanded in Psalms 122 vers 6. They want to bless Israel and actually love the Jews and Israel. No other nation receives so much love. Reply

Allan Koven Anaheim October 6, 2014

Self hating Jews I had a hard time with your answer. Self hating Jews seem to want to deny all the
good that HaShem has given to the world. What spark? Chomsky and Finklestein
spread venom about Jews and Israel. Will a loving heart bring them back into the
fold. For so many Jews, I see Liberalism become their identity as Jews. Many rally
against Israel and support every condemnation when it comes to Israel but are
quiet on the topic of world antisemitism. How can we not despair? Reply

fro October 6, 2014

Profound answer Reply

sara abraham staten enisland October 5, 2014

is this a self hating jew or a way of discrediting someone without listening to his content Why do you label him as "self hating" rather than "someone who hates Judaism".
If you add some of the content of his speeches, perhaps we can actually see if he is self hating or someone who has given some honest thought and decided honestly that he hates Judaism? What are his arguments? Do you label anyone who disagrees with you as "self hating"? This is certainly an unfair charecterization. Several times, I have asked questions to chabbad and have gotten answers "this is the way it is" without an y regard for the content of the question. Reply

sara abraham staten enisland October 5, 2014

Race or not? Double talk or honesty? You speak as if being Jewish is similar to having a genetic marker inside your body that labels you as a Jew for all time? You make it sound that Judaism is a race, not a religion? Is the opposite true, that is, someone whose mother is not Jewish, there is NO Jewish genetic marker? If he converts, does he then have a Jewish marker? How can you call this man Jewish and say that Judaism is not a race? If the Moshiach came, would he be able to put his hand on this man, and say, he is a Jew because of _______.. can you fill in this blank? I also have a strong orthodox Jewish upbringing, and I am also tormented by it, but it is anger at doing so many useless rituals, having wasted so much of my life doing rituals that even orthodox Jews are not in agreement over (like kapporot, swinging a chicken over my head so God will write my name in the book of life). The more I learned about what I was doing, the angrier I got, knowing that my teachers (Rabbis) were lying to me about knowing. Reply

Michal October 5, 2014

Aron Moss, be aware that there is a nineteens brocho in Amida! Reply