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For Atheists of Jewish origin and others interested in Jewish history and culture.
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Started by jlaz Dec 21, 2014.
Started by jlaz. Last reply by jlaz Sep 25, 2014.
Started by Freethinker31. Last reply by Freethinker31 Sep 19, 2014.
Michael, I'm not really sure how to answer you, except to point out the parallel with Latin. It's not really spoken today, but the descendants of its speakers are clearly with us. Hebrew WAS preserved as a liturgical language, and the reason that Ben Yehuda managed to revive it was because so many of the Ashkenazi immigrants to Palestine had such a deep knowledge of it, not just for prayers, but also for reading the literature (much broader than the
We are CLEARLY mixed bloods -- during the Roman Empire, the Jews traded throughout the Mediterranean, and made their way up north to Eastern Europe. It's been genetically proven that they took Germanic wives, because Germanic mitochondrial DNA is common in Ashkenazi Jews. But Middle-Eastern Y-chromosomal DNA is also common, although not universal.
Since almost all of humanity is mixed-blood, there is no reason why you have to care about your Semitic roots -- if you identify more with Lithuania (which doesn't give a SHIT about you) so be it. You're a jigsaw puzzle just like the rest of us, and since none of us can be completely committed to any specific part of our own puzzles, why don't you just sit back and enjoy learning about the parts that DO intrigue you?
There is DNA research that proves that Jewish groups all over the world are more related to each other than to their surrounding communities, although, of course, there were conversions and intermarriage. Jews are an ethnic group -- a tribe, which happens to have its own religion. You DON'T have to believe in god in order to be Jewish, because Jews are born, not made (except through conversion). People of Japanese descent don't stop being Japanese, just because they were born here, and they are also a tribe with its own religion (Shinto), although most stop following it when they've been here for a few generations.
As far as the Torah and other Jewish writings -- we should accept them for just what they are: a picture of the thinking of primitive pre-scientific peoples who were trying to figure out the mysteries of life the universe and everything else. If every other culture has its mythology, the Jews have a right to theirs, too -- it's just that the Christians have perverted our mythology into something "holy" and "inerrant". But that's not OUR fault! What I like about the Jewish writings is the window into the past, mythology, genealogy, along with oral histories that gradually merge into provable histories, literature, sex poetry, moral and ethical arguments, mysticism, and all the ways the human mind tries to grapple with its environment. You don't have to believe in god to be interested in how humans have thought about their world. I enjoy having an ethnic and cultural heritage, and it has nothing to do with theism.
Sholem moT. As for being Semetic, I don't think I am. I think my ancestors were probably slavic speaking peoples or possibly turkic speaking peoples who got converted to Judaism in E. Europe sometime between the 800's and 1300's. Then, as German speakers migrated east, these Jews language got mostly relexified with middle high german words and a little bit relexified with Old Hebrew words, and retained some Slavic words and the original underlying slavic grammar or language structure and aspectual system.
The term Ashkenazic is occasionally used to refer to the ethnic group that originated in E. Europe and historically spoke a secular language called Yiddish and followed the Jewish religion (which contained/contains some customs and superstitions that were actually borrowed and adapted from the neighboring slavic peoples).
Ben Yehuda revived modern Israeli Hebrew because him and some Jewish intellectuals hated the idea that the jews were living outside Israel, and the needed to revive Hebrew in order to use it to transform the Jews into a semetic people who belong in Israel and not in Europe. There were some Jews native to the muslim countries, and also about 18 different Jewish dialects in existence, which probably each correspond to a historically separate, genetically unrelated ethnic group that got converted to Judaism. But before WWII, 2/3 of the Jews in the world were Ashkenazic. The second biggest group were the ones that had a langauge called Ladino (similar to spanish from around the 1400's -1600's, with some Old Hebrew words replacing spanish words, and written in a Hebraic derived alphabet).
I don't think most Jews are Semetic. A few might be, but just a few.
If I say I'm Jewish, people might think I believe in the religion, so if people ask about my religion or ethnicity, I now say that my family is Jewish but I'm an atheist and I don't do any part of the religion. If I don't say I'm an "atheist" I still say I I'm not religious and don't believe in a god or that i know god is imaginary.
I may be less interested in Jewish culture than the Humanistic Jews, just because I don't have or know I should have no guilt whatsoever about not doing anything Jewish, and I don't think I have to invent new secular reasons why the old meshugas, time-wasting rituals are somehow still necessary to do, and I know god or HaShem doesn't care what I do because god is imaginary.
Just last Dec. 24, at the grocery store I work at, food was provided in the break room for the employees, and I ate half of a shrimp and a few bites of ham, just to see what i had been missing and just so I could tell people what I ate and boast that 'see, I ate treyf nothing bad happened to me, god is imaginary', not that saying this to my fellow ethnic Jews and family is polite.
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