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Jewish Identity

A collection of key essays on the topic

Who are the Jews? What does it mean to be a Jew? Is there a difference between Judaism and Jewishness? Is it a religion, a family, a tribe, a nationality or something entirely different?

Are Jews a
There are African Jews, Japanese Jews, even Eskimo Jews. It seems difficult to call such a mixture a "race"
Isn't It Racist To Believe That Jews Are Special?
Isn’t it racist to believe you’re special because you’re Jewish? How is that any different from the Nazi belief in the “superiority” of the Aryan race, for example?
Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?
My fiancé's parents told me that for a Jew to marry a non-Jew is worse than the Holocaust! I don't get it. Am I really that terrible?
Why Are My Non-Religious Parents Against My Marrying a Non-Jew?
My question is: my parents aren’t religious; we never kept kosher or any of the festivals. Why all of a sudden are they so Jewish when it comes to whom I marry?
Does Intermarriage Work?
I am Baptist and my boyfriend is Jewish. Can we still make it work? I am trying to learn about Judaism
Why Not Make it Easier to Convert?
I often hear rabbis complain that the Jewish people are shrinking due to intermarriage and assimilation. But you are the major obstacle to Judaism growing! If you would make conversion a bit easier, many more non-Jews would join us...
Why Do Rabbis Discourage Conversions?
My Jewish friends are mostly indifferent or even hostile towards their own religion, while I love Judaism and strongly desire to become a Jew. Then this rabbi tells me that “Judaism is not for you”?!
Why Does Judaism Make No Sense?
In praise of tribal rituals
Keeping kosher is not a reasonable act, and neither is Shabbat, or the prohibition against mixing wool and linen. These are neither rational nor religious acts—at least not in the modern understanding of “religious” . . .
Is a Self-Hating Jew Still a Jew?
He may be the son of a survivor, but can we say once and for all that he is not Jewish?
Couldn't the Jews and Greeks Get Along?
The Jews and Greeks could have learned so much from each other! Instead, the extremists of both sides hit the battlefield
Orthodox Judaism and Unorthodox Jews
What's really wrong with orthodoxy?
I like Shabbat. I like Torah, especially the Kabbalah stuff and Chassidic stories. I feel a strong attachment to the Jewish people. But I'm a non-conformist at heart -- I just can't see myself following all those regulations
What's this
I have always felt that the essence of spirituality is that, underneath it all, we are all one. Isn't it absurd to characterize a soul as "Jewish"? Why put souls in boxes?
Can a Jew believe in Jesus?
I was accosted at the beach today by a guy from Jews for Jesus. He offered me a New Testament in Yiddish and said that many Jews have been "saved" by accepting Jesus as the messiah.
Is Judaism the Truth?
As a rabbi, I assume you believe that Judaism is THE truth. If so, how do you explain the fact that there are so many other religions, and only a tiny minority of the world's population believes as you do?
Is Diversity Good for the Jews?
Can you see a time when all Jews will follow the same customs?
Judaism or Lennonism?
I don’t want my children to be small-minded or fundamentalist, so I haven’t given them a Jewish education. They have been brought up without any religion; they are free to choose whatever beliefs they like.
Why Are So Many Comedians Jewish?
In all seriousness, laughing has been an important part of Judaism since biblical times. But what is the source of the Jewish sense of humor in our times? Is it nature or nurture?
My Judaism Is Not Inspiring!
What do you say to people like me who simply are not inspired by Judaism?
What’s So Important About Belief in G‑d?
I pay my taxes, I am friendly to people around me, and I am charitable to those less fortunate. Doesn’t that make me a good person?
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