Judaism, Jewishness and everything you were never taught in school about it.

I've been hanging around for a while, and the amount of ignorance and misinformation abounding around Judaism, Jewishness (not the same thing), and Israel just astounds me.

Because we are an ethnic group that just happens to have a religion attached to it (much like the Japanese) it is entirely possible to be a Jewish atheist -- and I don't think I'm the only one here, although it seems to me that others may be unwilling to come out, because of the rampant hostility that I have seen expressed against us.

I think that this hostility comes from ex-Christians truly not understanding the difference between the definition of a Christian and a Jew, much less the profound cultural differences that exist. Americans in general, which mostly means Christians, haven't a clue about Jewish history, nor approaches to philosophy, nor how we have evolved, nor our world-view. 

So I have a lot of topics in my head to write about -- but I'm also VERY interested in genuine questioning, just so some of you can understand before you attack.

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Hi Steven and Joan and Natalie,

Oops sorry, I got Joan's and Natalie's picture mixed up. Sorry to Joan, Natalie and Ruth. Yes, Ruth also, I always get you 3 mixed up. 


...treated with at least a bit of respect. Don't you think? 

Natalie's post is based on a nondescript assumption that people are ignorant of the 'truth' about Jewishness, Israel and Judaism. 

For example: 

'ethnic group that just happens to have a religion attached to it': (sounds like something I would write)

Linguistically the Israelites are Semites. Along with Assyrian's, Arab's, Yemeni's, Eritrean's, Northern Sudanese and others.

Religiously, they are of the Abrahamic group of religions. Along with Muslims and Christians, Druze, Mandeans and Shia-Muslims. 

Ancestry: All Jews feel they can prove they are the offspring of Abraham, many Muslims also feel this way. Shia Mullahs who wear a black turban are supposedly direct descendants of Abraham via Muhammad, the black turban is proof of this. 

Genetically: Time will tell. There is only 0.5% genetic variation between humans and only 2.7% genetic variation between Chimps and Humans. So if any particular ethnic group wants to prove their ethnicity genetically, they could be in for a shock in the not so distant future. Some ethnic groups are going to be proven to be more closely related to Chimps than others. 

Question 1: What is a Jew? 


Jewish world view?: I am sure that Natalie's personal view of the world and how the world and its people should be treated is probably a good one. It is probably a good world view because Natalie is a good person, based on what she has written. But I can not accept that her world view comes from Judaism, Jewishness or Israel. 

For Example: Theft of land. Destruction of farms. Murder. These things are part of ancient and modern Israel. Question 2: Are these examples also part of the Jewish world View?


Judaism: This is an Atheist web site. Of course most people are going to be hostile toward Judaism. Judaism is a sect that condones slavery, misogyny, racism, murder and lots of other nasty things. 

Question 3: What is Judaism? 


Israel: I haven't heard of anything anti-Israel here. And I don't think there is any unpredictable hostility toward Israel in the world. 

Question 4: Is modern Israel good for those Palestinians that lost everything or who have been murdered by the state of Israel? 


I have read many of Natalie's posts, via automatic email. And like most posts here at Atheist-Nexus, they are thought out well enough to put a point of view across that can be debated. Personally I agree with many of Natalie's posts and usually never have any contradictory feelings about her posts. But, just because Natalie is a good person and deserving of respect etc, doesn't mean everything Natalie thinks, feels or writes is also deserving of respect. 


I was wondering why Natalie posted this post, and I just now read Natalie 's response to Carl Pastors "The Problem of Evil". Maybe this is one of the main reasons for this thread. 

Finally, if somebody came in here and started a similar thread about Islamic-atheists, I would put up similar statements and questions as I have above. 


And thanks for the polite caution Steve, I'll keep hold of it. 


    When it comes to ethnicity-Jewish or otherwise-, most people (especially myself) are ignorant.  I have a tendency to perceive of myself as "culturally amorphous", in that I don't perceive of any outstanding differences between myself and the rest of the world-except that I'm gay.

  And even though "gay" doesn't count as an ethnicity (primarily because we don't exactly tend to produce gay children, or even children at all for that matter), we definitely DO have at least some perception of a culture that is kind of unique to us, although much of that was created more by society at large, than by gays ourselves.  Ethnicity can be seen in much the same way.  It is harder to define than it looks. 

  You are correct that there is only an extremely misucule fraction of genetic variation between any two humans, regardless of perceived race, nation of origin, or familial bloodline.  That does not mean, however, that genetic difference is the only difference between peoples of two different cultures.  Take the Serbs and the Kurds, for example.  The only real difference is that one group is Orthodox/Catholic, while the other is Muslim.  That's it!  And yet that doesn't stop one group from seeking the extermination of the other.

  Apparently ethnicity has some rather soft definitions, but it is also true that even short periods of insularism can have distinct effects on a persons genetics (hemophilia, sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, etc.).  I myself have a blood disorder (factor V-Leiden so named because it was discovered in Leiden, Switzerland, where quite a few people seem to suffer from blood-clotting disorders) that causes hyperthrombism (excessive clotting).  In fact, as I write this, I am at home on doctors orders because of a blood clot in my right foot.  This particular blood disorder is thought to possibly have originated from the fact that survival in Northern climes favored people with lower viscosity blood (because it retains body heat better).

  But ethnicity doesn't specifically require a genetic difference to affect a social difference among those deemed "ethnic".  Social class or a perception by a society at large that a person comes from "somewhere else" are often enough to ostracise a person or an entire group of people. Skin tone also creates a perception of "different-ness".  If you recall the 2008 presidential elections, remember that Sarah Palin et al. kept accusing Barack Obama of being "secretly foreign" (he was born in Hawaii-which to a conservative southern white IS a foreign county, just like California and Miami).  Gypsies have also faced persecution throughout the years-not specifically because of their heritage, but rather because of their perceptions as being filthy, theiving, wandering vagabonds.

  Ms. Sera informs me that if your mother is Jewish, then you are considered a Jew.  Therefore when it comes to Jews, it's not really a religious identity thing, it's a blood heritage (of course, you can convert to the religion of Judaism, but not to the culture itself, conceivably, unless this included a conversion to the religion).  It would be nigh impossible to convert from being a run-of-the-mill southern white atheist, into a Jewish atheist (or secular Jew), or at least I don't suppose that would be very possible since secular Jews are born into the social fabric of Judaism and then emerge as atheists/agnostics against a background that either rejects their choice outright or embraces them, but as members of a sub-group within the greater community as a whole.  

  Once on an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry's dentist converted to Judaism and became insufferable about his newfound heritage.  The comic element, of course being that Jerry's character is that of a secular Jew, being told by a converted Jew about the struggles "of our people".

  In the Middle-east, children are born into a social fabric that seems overshadowed by the specter of genocide.  Their cultural heritage differs not by choice or genetics or even necessarily by region of birth, but rather by virtue of birth into a culture that is hated by the other side.  It is impossible for the mind of a child to understand what it must mean to be a Jew/Muslim/Seikh/Yezidi, but rest assured that when they grow up, they will know by way of life experince why they can be born on the same street, in the same town as another, only to have a neighbor fire-bomb their house in the middle of the night.  So then ,yes, ethnicity is not non-existant-at least not in the sense of perception-as it has literally affected the lives of millions of people and continues to do so.  Some of the considerations of various ethnic groups depend on old and outdated modes of inheritance or laws, that while no longer very understandable in todays world refuse to vanish from social habit so quickly (perhaps the term "meme" applies correctly here).

  I have been pwned (if that "meme" is still in use) by Ms. Sera before on the subject of ethnicity.  I too, thought that if it wasn't reducible to genetics in a demonstrable way that it was b.s.  But there are factors that come into play in the lives of those raised in stetls, ghettos, and on kibbutzim that do not have any effect on the rest of us.  That does not mean they don't exist. 

And when it comes to genocide and land thieving many members of the Cherokee nation might have some thoughts to share on that as well.   

Hi Patrick,

I understand what you are saying. The problem I have with this topic is that there are no facts here. Only personal opinion. For example:

Sera informs me that if your mother is Jewish, then you are considered a Jew.  Therefore when it comes to Jews, it's not really a religious identity thing, it's a blood heritage

This is meaningless. If I am born to a women who considers herself a Jew, this doesn't automatically make me a Jew. Only through constant indoctrination will a child born of a Jewish woman believe him/herself to be a Jew. Nothing to do with blood at all, only personal opinion being pushed onto a human from childhood. Nothing more. 

 And even though "gay" doesn't count as an ethnicity (primarily because we don't exactly tend to produce gay children, or even children at all for that matter), we definitely DO have at least some perception of a culture that is kind of unique to us,

They is a major difference here. If from a young age you were told to only like girls, is this ok? Or if you were told to only have sexual relations with boys, is this ok? Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists only believe what they believe because of indoctrination. They force their children to believe what they believe. Nothing else. 


Why are you gay? Are you gay because your parents indoctrinated you into being gay? Did you mother give you a gay sweater(re:Seinfeld) when you were a child, and this turned you gay? 

People only think themselves Jews because of indoctrination. 

Question to you Patrick: Are you gay because of indoctrination?



leveni, as we all know, several sciences have shown the origin claims of many religions to be myths (false, frauds, lies, etc).

DNA analysis might someday show Judaism's Jewish ethnicity claim is a myth--a claim made because some Jewish leaders fear that decreasing numbers of Jews result in ethnic extinction?

Are you saying DNA analysis has already shown the claim to be a myth?

Hi Tom,

Are you saying DNA analysis has already shown the claim to be a myth?

Before proving it a myth, I'd like a categorical definition of what an Ethnic Jew is. All I have so far is somebody who converts to Judaism or somebody whose mother is a Jew.
If anybody from anywhere is allowed to convert to Judaism then the ethnic Jewish tribe thing is a myth. Judaism would be by definition a religion.
If Judaism is matrilineal, and if according to the bible men are allowed to take women from non-Jewish tribes they conquer, then homogeneous ethnic Judaism can not exist. Again it would be a myth.
Rather than only trying to prove Jewish ethnicity is a myth we should also try to prove it has existed since the time of Abraham. So when is the first biblical Jew proven to exist independently of the old testament? 

Also where is the oldest Jewish grave with human remains in it? 


If ethic Jews are proven to exist via DNA, should all the Muslims, who have the same DNA, be allowed to enter Israel and live? If not, then Judaism is a religion, not a race. 


leveni, here's a truth for you: A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

Hi Tom,

What can I say.


When did I say that I was gay because of indoctrination?  I only said that gay people perceive themselves to have a similitude of a culture among themselves (one that is for the most part based on the perceptions of others, more so than an indigenous set of experiences).  You kind of just go whereever you want to with your argument that I am claimimg that gays are a culture i the same way that religions are a culture-I don't understand for one moment where you came up with the opinion that I even hinted at that.

  Every person born shares some of their mother's DNA, and if that is what is being used as the point of claiming a familial bond (as opposed to paternal Y chromosomes), then I don't see a problem.Although that in truth makes one no more related to their mother than to their father-hence genetic inheritance as a base for claiming to be "genetically Jewish", or whatever, seems sketchy at best. 

Hi Patrick, 

When did I say that I was gay because of indoctrination?

You didn't. 

My point is that Jews are Jews because of indoctrination, nothing else. 

Gay culture exists, but not as an ethnic group or as a group formed through indoctrination. I don't think Gay and Jew are comparable in the same way. Sure, Natalie is Jewish but only because of indoctrination, nothing else. But you, why are you gay?


My main reason for participating in this whole thread is to get a clear natural world provable definition of what an ethnic Jew is. 


I doubt that you ever will.

Certainly not until you define "clear" and "natural world provable". The first is a wonderfully ambiguous term.

If you do get that definition, will you sleep more soundly?

My point wasn't about being gay, leveni, rather it was about "gay culture" which IS something one would have to be indoctrinated into.  Pink upside down triangles, pinch attire, rainbow flags and pride parades, swishy mannerisms and vocalizations, as well as other gay cliches are not natural results of a persons genetic traits.  They are affectations, as are all cultural stances.  They are learned behavior, whether they have meaning to the person performing them or not.  Natalie is her mother's child by birth, just as I am gay by birth.  If Natalie can be defined as Jewish because she is the daughter of a Jewish woman, then she IS Jewish by birth.  That is all I meant.

Leveni - // I don't think I've heard anything anti Israel here //


Well - Except my postings that have specificially stated Israeli Jews think every other non-Israeli Jew is a GOY - and that includes non-Jews. I've posted the book written by an American Jew that - in detail - non-disputable terms - has written it out in many chapters for all to see exactly how the Israeli Jewish community acts towards 'others;.


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