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Are Jews a "Race"?

Are Jews a "Race"?


While the Jewish people began with the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, many people have converted to become Jews over the millennia--beginning with the "mixed multitude" that came with us out of Egypt. Today there are African Jews, Japanese Jews, even Eskimo Jews. It seems difficult to call such a mixture a "race".

(Incidently, there is really no such thing as a "race." The term "race" implies to most people that there are different categories of human beings based on their genetic makeup. The fact is that there is no basis in genetics for these distinctions. For example, an African from one family may have more in common genetically with a Swede than with another African.)

What could be said is that we are a "family". A family can adopt others as their own. But there are conditions to adoption. You need to keep the family rules. In our case, those rules have to do with the mission we were given at Mount Sinai over 3300 years ago.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Discussion (86)
February 7, 2017
Not a race.
The wide range of variation between Jewish populations in their physical characteristics and the diversity of the gene frequencies of their blood groups render any unified racial classification for them a contradiction in terms. For although modern racial theory admits some degree of polymorphism or variation within a racial group, it does not permit distinctly different groups, measured by its own criteria of race, to be identified as one. To do so would make the biological purposes of racial classification futile and the whole procedure arbitrary and meaningless. Unfortunately, this subject is rarely wholly divorced from non-biological considerations, and despite the evidence efforts continue to be made to somehow segregate the Jews as a distinct racial entity.
November 2, 2016
Jews are a race
My son went to to verify what was already known to our family. The results after the DNA was submitted, was that we come from sub group J-2, Jews who trace our origin to Morocco
& Spain. We are the seed of Avraham, Yitzak & Yacov. To deny that people can discover their ethnic heritage when science proves that we can, is ridiculous. Japanese Jews? Eskimo Jews? That's fine. If one finds faith in our God, I applaud him. But ethnically they are going to remain Japanese or Eskimos.
Mike Aijlman
June 27, 2016
What an interesting subject - Jew (lives by the laws of JHVH) an Israeli is a descendant of the house of Abraham
It has always been assumed that a Jew was a descendant of Abraham and today I have discovered that a Jew is more about faith than ancestral roots. 3300 years ago JHVH gave his people 'The house of Israel, The children of Israel and the congregation of the children of Israel. A Gift Exodus 20 (note) JHVH spoke these words the written words came later, through Moses.
new zealand
March 21, 2016
So, what is that mission that was given 3300 years ago?
February 29, 2016
I feel like we're no different than native american tribes really. Jews were a group of tribes originally which had their own religion. Other races mixed with the tribes. That's why there are so many people of different races who are also Jews.
January 24, 2016
For Lee
I would rephrase the question: "Is a Jew who thinks he is secular and not holy, believes he is an atheist when he's really a believer—is such a Jew still a Jew?"

And once phrased that way, the question answers itself.
Tzvi Freeman
January 18, 2016
Is a secular israeli who is an atheist considered a Jew
May 8, 2015
Just saw this article, and appreciate the Rabbi's succinct and accurate point of Jewishness as a "family" and not as a "race."

Nevertheless, so very many posters here insisting on focusing on race and genetics despite the absolute truth of the falsity of such ideas.

It shows how rooted we are as humans in these concepts of race - even when faced with completely contrary facts.
jerry tanenbaum
February 6, 2015
Jews are NOT a race!
Dislexic Dave from London, UK, I'm not wrong! Different people have different opinions on things, and religious beliefs don't discriminate against anyone!

You're a very misguided person to think that I would say something like that!
Providence, RI
December 29, 2014
yes, there is american Indian Jews in NM
yes, there is a family from Navajo tribe that converted to Judaism in New Mexico a few years ago. That husband was even president of Jewish organization. you can google that family. they still keep Navajo traditions.
Wendy C.