What is a Jew?

Star of David, family heirloom.
My great-grandmother’s Star of David

Depends on who you ask.

It is not just a religion, but without the religion of Judaism it would not exist.

One thing that Jews aren’t, is a race. You can’t convert to a race. Mind you, no one can give me a consistent answer as to what is the definition of a ‘race’, which is understandable, considering where the concept of race originated. But that’s a whole other discussion.

Many feel that Jews are a ‘race’, but what they actually mean is that they believe true Jews share genetic material. However, the whole of humanity shares genetic material and also, throughout time Jews have intermarried with others, denying this is just lying to ourselves. Insert biblical examples.

I have seen several different descriptions of what a Jew is that resonate with me. One of them is that Judaism is a faith community. This is quite accurate because it says two things at once.

I think that the better description is that being Jewish is an identity.

This is part of why it is so difficult to define what it means to be Jewish, because each individual has their own unique identity. Everyone’s experience and opinion of what constitutes a Jew is based on their own lived experience and traditions.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that one opinion is more important than another, but we have to acknowledge the pluralism of identity inherent in the experience of being human.

Published by theundercoverjewess

Starting my conversion to Judaism...

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