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Thread: Why were we (as in Americans) taught that Judaism was "just a religion"?

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    Why were we (as in Americans) taught that Judaism was "just a religion"?

    The title says it all, really. Why aren't we told more accurately that it's a ethnoreligion than "just a religion"? I don't understand. Maybe to protect them from racism? I think.

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    Recently someone identified themselves as Jewish as an ethnicity. Someone remarked they were "50% Catholic and 50% Protestant" as a reply. Funny, but I think it highlights how badly educated we are which has lead some to confusion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by saraman View Post
    Recently someone identified themselves as Jewish as an ethnicity. Someone remarked they were "50% Catholic and 50% Protestant" as a reply. Funny, but I think it highlights how badly educated we are which has lead some to confusion.

    there is confusion in all religions

    example.......some say pray only to God and not the religious institution you follow.....ie.( do not pray to false Gods (religious institutions ) ) .........and then others say, pray to God via your religious institution

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    Oh for goodness sakes. You'd have to have been living in a box not to know that it's not just a religion, at least if you've been involved in the amateur population genetics community. Otherwise why would Jews who are atheists, and there are a lot of them, identify as Jews. Nobody was lying to anyone.

    It's like Sikhs aren't just a religion, or the Amish. You think all religions are like Islam and Christianity, i.e. proselytizing religions. They're not. You have to be born into a lot of them.


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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Otherwise why would Jews who are atheists, and there are a lot of them, identify as Jews. Nobody was lying to anyone.
    Not so much, they're very secular and they intermarry a lot. But some 73% still consider themselves to be part of the religion, even if they're liberal in their faith.

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    Judaism is just a religion, by definition. What you seem to want to get at is Jewishness. Of course there is a big overlap between the ethnic component and the religious one, but the terms should not be confused. To answer the OP's question, talking about religious affiliation is more simple and politically correct. Religious affiliation is generally a cut and dry issue, but how someone ethnically identifies can be a gray area. In the US particularly, the major historical racial groups of whites, blacks and reds kind of tripolarized the view of people into broader categories, squeezing out finer nuances. All people from Europe were pretty much seen as whites, even the Irish, Italian and Jews (who also would have had Russian, Polish, etc affiliation).

    While the totality of Jews has a pretty small ethnic standard deviation, it's not true that they are all one people. There are of course the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) and other small communities around the world that have separate and often obscure origins. The Mizrahim (Middle East Jews) are also visibly different from Ashkenazim (Eastern European Jews). Keep in mind that the Jewish religion is not a proselytizing one (i.e. they don't go looking to boost their numbers through conversion) the way Christianity and Islam are. This is of course no accident, it is by design, since their religious texts promote the idea of being a chosen people to be served and exalted by non-Jews. Judaism stresses the concept of pedigree and lineage (from Abraham onwards... even within Jewry the Cohens are considered a priestly stratum). Some folks do manage to convert to Judaism but it is not easy to get accepted.

    Were you taught that Hinduism is just a religion and not a people? We could similarly say that Hindus are pretty much all from India, Nepal and Bhutan. We should expect non-proselytizing religions to remain confined to a general area and racial group of origin, especially if we are talking about a region that was generally poor and did not go out exploring and settling other lands.

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