THE JEW: PART ONE
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Haredi rabbis have tended to look at a convert's current personal observance and to regard deficiencies or lack of Orthodoxy in current observance as evidence that the convert never intended to validly convert. In addition, the contemporary situation is further complicated by the fact that some Haredi rabbis no longer regard some Modern Orthodox rabbis as reliable. Unlike the denominations of Rabbinical Judaism, Karaite Judaism maintains that it is the responsibility of each Jew to study the Tanakh for themselves. The Talmud and Oral Law are not considered canonical, and rabbinical opinions are not considered authoritative either, but every interpretation is held up to the same scrutiny, regardless of its source.
Karaite Judaism relies on the Tanakh to indicate that Jewishness is passed down through the paternal line, not the maternal line as is maintained by Orthodox Judaism though a minority hold that both parents need to be Jewish. Karaite Jews are eligible for Aliyah under the Law of Return. The eligibility of converts to Judaism through the Karaite movement to make Aliyah under the Law of Return has not yet been addressed in Israeli courts.
Reform Judaism recognizes a child as being Jewish if either parent is Jewish and the child is being raised Jewish. Voices within the Reform movement say that the law, which changed to matriarchal around 2, years ago originally in the Torah the offspring was determined by patriarchal descent and was based on the tragic circumstances the Jewish people were facing, was once helpful but is no longer relevant. Modern Progressive Jewish denominations have a conversion process based on their principles. In the US, an official Reform resolution in abolished circumcision as a requirement for converts,  and Reform does not require converts to have tevilah, ritual immersion.
A "prospective convert declares, orally and in writing, in the presence of a rabbi and no less than two lay leaders of the congregation and community, acceptance of the Jewish religion and the intention to live in accordance with its mitzvot ". One issue arises because North American Reform and UK Liberal movements have changed some of the halakhic requirements for a Jewish identity in two ways:. Secondly, Orthodox Judaism asserts that non-Orthodox rabbis are not qualified to form a beit din.
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Since Orthodox Judaism maintains the traditional standards for conversion — in which the commitment to observe halakha is required — non-Orthodox conversions are generally not accepted in Orthodox communities because the non-Orthodox movements perform conversions in which the new convert does not undertake to observe halakha as understood by Orthodox Judaism. A third controversy concerns persons whether born Jews or converts to Judaism who have converted to another religion. The traditional view is such persons remain Jewish.
We can not do so as they consider Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah who has fulfilled the Messianic promises. In this way, they have clearly placed themselves within Christianity. They may be somewhat different from other Christians as they follow various Jewish rites and ceremonials, but that does not make them Jews. A fourth controversy stems from the manner in which the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has been handling marriage and conversion decisions in recent years. Conversions and marriages within Israel are legally controlled by the Orthodox Israeli Chief Rabbinate; therefore, a person not proven to be a Jew to the Rabbinate's satisfaction is not legally permitted to marry a Jew in Israel today.
Although the Rabbinate has always refused to accept non-Orthodox conversions, until recent years it was more willing to accept the Jewish parentage of applicants based on personal testimony, and the validity of conversions based on the testimony of Orthodox Rabbis. However, in recent years the rabbinate, whose rabbis historically had a more Modern Orthodox orientation, has increasingly been filled by the more stringent Haredi camp.
It has increasingly been inclined to presume that applicants are not Jewish until proven otherwise, and require more stringent standards of proof than in the past. It has implemented a policy of refusing to accept the testimony of non-Orthodox Jews in matters of Jewish status, on grounds that such testimony is not reliable. It also has been increasingly skeptical of the reliability of Orthodox rabbis ordained by institutions not subject to its accreditation, particularly in matters of conversion.
Accordingly, non-Orthodox Jews born to Jewish parents, and some Jews converted by Orthodox rabbis, have been increasingly unable to prove their Jewishness to the Rabbinate's satisfaction, because they are unable to find an Orthodox rabbi who is both acceptable to the Rabbinate, and familiar with and willing to vouch for the Jewishness of their maternal lineage or the validity of their conversion. There have been several attempts to convene representatives of the three major movements to formulate a practical solution to this issue.
To date, these have failed, though all parties concede the importance of the issue is greater than any sense of rivalry among them. Ethnic Jew is a term generally used to describe a person of Jewish parentage and background who does not necessarily actively practice Judaism, but still identifies with Judaism or other Jews culturally or fraternally, or both.
The term ethnic Jew does not specifically exclude practicing Jews, but they are usually simply referred to as "Jews" without the qualifying adjective "ethnic". The term can refer to people of diverse beliefs and backgrounds because genealogy largely defines who is "Jewish". Other terms include non-observant Jew , non-religious Jew , non-practicing Jew , and secular Jew.
The term may also refer to Jews who do not practice the religion of Judaism. Typically, ethnic Jews are cognizant of their Jewish background, and may feel strong cultural even if not religious ties to Jewish traditions and to the Jewish people or nation. Like people of any other ethnicity, non-religious ethnic Jews often assimilate into a surrounding non-Jewish culture, but, especially in areas where there is a strong local Jewish culture, they may remain largely part of that culture instead. Religious Jews of all denominations sometimes engage in outreach to non-religious ethnic Jews.
In the case of some Hasidic denominations e. Chabad-Lubavitch , this outreach extends to actively proselytizing more secular Jews. The traditional European definition of Jewishness although it was not uniform across Europe defined a Jew as one belonging to the "Mosaic faith". That is, a Jew was someone who practiced Judaism.
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The European definition is traditional in many respects, and reflects not only how the Europeans saw Jews, but also how Jews saw themselves. In the former Soviet Union , "Jewish" was a nationality by law, as with other nationalities such as Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians and others. There were certain restrictions on their civil liberties in the early years of the Soviet Union.
The modern genealogical DNA test of ethnicity is a non-religious definition of 'who is a Jew? In the United States and Europe, because of intermarriage , the population of "half-Jews" is beginning to rival that of Jews with two Jewish parents. Self-identified "half-Jews" consider the term a familial category, which reflects multiple heritages and possible Jewish cultural or spiritual practices.
The term "Gershom", "Gershomi" or "Beta Gershom" has also been used as an alternative to "half-Jewish" and "part-Jewish" in connection with descendants of intermarriage, Gershom being the son of Moses and his Midianite wife Zipporah. The Society for Humanistic Judaism defines a Jew as "someone who identifies with the history, culture and fate of the Jewish people.
Everyone who is mad enough to call himself or herself a Jew is a Jew. Israel has no single document called a constitution the Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution ; however, the definition of "who is a Jew" has become an important issue in Israeli politics due to the involvement of religious parties in the Knesset.
The issue of who is considered a Jew has given rise to legal controversy in Israel. There have been court cases in Israel since that have addressed the question. As of [update] , anyone who immigrated to Israel after and wishes to marry or divorce via the Jewish tradition within the state limits must go through a "Judaism test"  at an Orthodox Rabbinical court. In this test, a person would need to prove their claim to be Jewish to an investigator beyond a reasonable doubt.
They would need to present original documentation of their matriline up to their great-grandmother 4 generations ,  or in the case of Ethiopian Jews , 7 generations back. In the case of people whose original documents have been lost or never existed, it may take a lot of work to prove their being Jewish. Following the birth of the modern State of Israel in , the Law of Return was enacted in to give any Jew the right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen. As a result, the Law relied in form on the traditional halakhic definition.
But, the absence of a definition of who is a Jew, for the purpose of the Law, has resulted in the divergent views of the various streams of Judaism competing for recognition. Besides the generally accepted halakhic definition of who is a Jew, the Law extended the categories of person who are entitled to immigration and citizenship to the children and grandchildren of Jews, regardless of their present religious affiliation, and their spouses. Once again, issues arose as to whether a conversion performed outside Israel was valid. The variation of the definition in the Law and the definition used by various branches of Judaism has resulted in practical difficulties for many people.
It has been estimated that in the past twenty years about , avowed non-Jews and even practicing Christians have entered Israel from the former Soviet Union on the basis of being a child or grandchild of a Jew or by being married to a Jew. However, there was an exception in the case of a person who had formally converted to another religion derived from the Rufeisen Case in This created a divergence between the Israeli state's interpretation of Jewishness and that of halakha.
In the Shalit case the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favour of a family which sought to register children born in Israel from a Scottish mother as Jewish by nationality,  but the amendment to the Population Registry Law prevented their third child being registered as Jewish. Current Israeli definitions specifically exclude Jews who have openly and knowingly converted to or were raised in a faith other than Judaism, including Messianic Judaism.
This definition is not the same as that in traditional Jewish law; in some respects it is deliberately wider, so as to include those non-Jewish relatives of Jews who may have been perceived to be Jewish, and thus faced antisemitism. The Law of Return does not, of itself, define the Jewish status of a person; it only deals with those who have a right of immigration to Israel. In the early s, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate originally objected to the immigration of Karaite Jews to Israel, and unsuccessfully tried to obstruct it.
We accept them as Jews and every one of them who wishes to come back [to mainstream Judaism] we accept back. There was once a question about whether Karaites needed to undergo a token circumcision in order to switch to rabbinic Judaism, but the rabbinate agrees that today that is not necessary. In relation to marriage , divorce , and burial, which are under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Interior Ministry , the halakhic definition of who is a Jew is applied. When there is any doubt, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate generally determines the issue.
In terms of social relations, most secular Jews view their Jewish identity as a matter of culture, heritage, nationality, or ethnicity. Orthodox halachic rules apply to converts who want to marry in Israel. Under these rules, a conversion to Judaism must strictly follow halachic standards to be recognised as valid. The rabbinate even scrutinizes Orthodox conversions, with some who have converted by orthodox authorities outside Israel not being permitted to marry in Israel. If one's ancestral line of Jewishness is in doubt, then a proper conversion would be required in order to be allowed to marry in the Orthodox community, or in Israel, where such rules govern all marriages.
In the registering of "nationality" on Israeli identity cards , which is administered by the Ministry of the Interior, a person had to meet the Halakhic definition to be registered as a "Jew". The right of people who convert in the Diaspora under Reform or Conservative auspices to immigrate to Israel and claim citizenship as Jews, is detailed in Israeli law. Until recently, Israeli identity cards had an indication of nationality, and the field was left empty for those who immigrated not solely on the basis of being Jewish i.
Many Israeli citizens who are not recognised by the Rabbinate as Jewish have been issued with Israeli identity cards that do not include their Hebrew calendar birth date. The question has also arisen in the United Kingdom, where religious schools are allowed to select all, or a proportion of their intake based upon religion.
A ruling, R E v Governing Body of JFS , determined that the definition of Jewish religion based upon descent constituted discrimination on ethnic grounds, and therefore contravened racial discrimination laws. There have been other attempts to determine Jewish identity beside the traditional Jewish approaches. These range from genetic population studies [b] to controversial evolutionary perspectives including those espoused by Kevin B.
MacDonald and Yuri Slezkine. Historians, such as the late Kamal Salibi , have utilized etymology and geography to reconstruct the prehistoric origin of the Jewish people in the Arabian Peninsula. As with any other ethnic identity, Jewish identity is, to some degree, a matter of either claiming that identity or being perceived by others both inside and outside the ethnic group as belonging to that group, or both.
It was only after she was nominated to be Secretary of State that she, and the public, discovered her Jewish ancestry. Ido Abram states that there are five aspects to contemporary Jewish identity:. The relative importance of these factors may vary enormously from place to place. For example, a typical Dutch Jew might describe his or her Jewish identity simply as "I was born Jewish," while a Jew in Romania , where levels of antisemitism are higher, might say, "I consider any form of denying as a proof of cowardice. During the time of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions , conversion to Roman Catholicism did not result in total termination of the person's Jewish status.
Legally, the converts were no longer regarded as Jews, and thus allowed to stay in the Iberian Peninsula. During the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal , however, many Jews were forced to convert, but thereafter were regarded by many people, though not in a legal form, as New Christians , distinguishing them as separate from the Old Christians of non-Jewish lineage.
Since legal, political, religious and social pressure pushed many people to untrue conversions public behaviour as Christians while retaining some Jewish beliefs and practices privately, a kind of crypto-Judaism , [c] they were still treated with suspicion, a stigma sometimes carried for several generations by their identifiable descendants. The limpieza de sangre "Cleanliness of blood" required public officials or candidates for membership of many organizations to prove that they did not have Jewish or Muslim ancestry. Jean-Paul Sartre , who was not Jewish, suggested in Anti-Semite and Jew that Jewish identity "is neither national nor international, neither religious nor ethnic, nor political: it is a quasi-historical community.
In his most extreme statement of this view he wrote, "It is the anti-Semite who creates the Jew. Hannah Arendt repeatedly asserted a principle of claiming Jewish identity in the face of antisemitism. Not as a German, not as a world-citizen, not as an upholder of the Rights of Man, or whatever"; "A man attacked as a Jew cannot defend himself as an Englishman or a Frenchman.
The world can only conclude from this that he is simply not defending himself at all. Wade Clark Roof , a sociologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, proposed that social sectors in modern life , in which traditional symbols and rituals are meaningful, provide an alternative approach for explaining the social basis of religion in a secular order, in doing so, he turned to the local community as a sphere in modern society that still persists "as a complex system of friendship and kinship networks, formal and informal associations, as well as symbolic attachments, very much rooted in family life and ongoing socialization processes".
The question "who is a Jew? It has had exceptional significance historically when considered by anti-Jewish groups for the purpose of targeting Jews for persecution or discrimination. The definition can impact on whether a person may have a certain job, live in certain locations, receive a free education , live or continue to live in the country, be imprisoned , or executed. The question was of critical importance during the rule of the Nazi party in Germany , which persecuted the Jews and defined them for the government's purposes by the Nuremberg Laws.
The Nazi regime instituted laws discriminating against Jews, declared a race by the Nazis, and thus needed a working definition of who is a Jew as to its law-defined race system. These definitions almost completely categorised persons through the religions followed by each individual's ancestors, according to membership registries. Thus, personal faith or individual observance, as well as the religious definitions of Judaism as given by the Halacha , were mostly ignored.
In Germany itself, the Ahnenpass and Nuremberg Laws classified people as being of the Jewish race if they descended from three or four grandparents enrolled in Jewish congregations. A person with one or two grandparents enrolled in a Jewish congregation could be classified as Mischling ,  a crossbreed, of "mixed blood", if they were not a member of a Jewish congregation at the time the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. Only people with at least two of their grandparents of "German blood" could be German Reich's citizens, other Germans dropped into the new second class group of citizens, the so-called state citizens.
Whereas every Mischling could anytime drop into the class of Geltungsjude by joining a Jewish congregation, the Nuremberg Laws provided for the unchanged classification of any Geltungsjude, regardless if she or he tried to evade harm by seceding from the Jewish congregation after , considering such secessions as being of no effect as to the discrimination.
Let alone people with three or four Jewish grandparents who themselves could never alter their law-defined racial categorisation as Jews. Any Mischling with two Jewish grandparents, colloquially called a half-Jew, marrying after anybody classified as Jew would drop into the discriminatory class of Geltungsjude. Mischlinge with one Jewish grandparent were usually forbidden to marry anybody with any Jewish grandparent.
The Mischling Test was introduced to identify Europeans with Jewish blood and consider those tested "Jews of the first or second degree. One could not become a non-Jew in the eyes of the Nazi government by seceding from one's Jewish congregation, becoming non-practicing, marrying outside the religion, or converting to Christianity. In the Nuremberg Laws forbade new marriages of people classified as Jews with people of other classifications.
There were very few Karaites in Europe during the Nazi era; most lived in the region of Turkey, Greece, and the Crimea. Nazis still retained hostility towards the Karaites, on grounds of their religion; and there were a number of small scale massacres of Karaites. In German-occupied France an ordinance defined a Jew as an individual who belonged to the Jewish religion or who had more than two Jewish grandparents. There are various groups besides Jews that have claimed descent from the biblical Israelites. The question nowadays arises in relation to Israel 's Law of Return , with various groups seeking to migrate there.
Some claims have been accepted, some are under consideration, while others have been rejected by Israel's rabbinate. Some sources say that the earliest Jews of Cochin , India were those who settled in the Malabar Coast during the times of King Solomon of Israel, and after the Kingdom of Israel split into two. There is historical documentation of the Jews being in Cochin after the fall of the Second Temple, from around the first century CE. Later additions were a smaller immigration of Sephardic Jews from Europe in the sixteenth century after the expulsion from Spain, and Baghdadi Jews , Arabic -speaking Jews who arrived in the late eighteenth century, at the beginning of the British colonial era.
Some have gone on to North America or Britain. The Bene Israel resemble the non-Jewish Marathi people in appearance and customs, which indicates some intermarriage between Jews and Indians. The Bene Israel, however, maintained the practices of Jewish dietary laws , male circumcision and observation of the Sabbath as a day of rest.
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From the late eighteenth century, other Jewish communities instructed them in normative Judaism. Initially the Orthodox rabbinate in Israel said that the Bene Israel would have to undergo conversion in order to marry other Jews, as matrilineal descent could not be proven. The Bene Israel claim a lineage to the Kohanim , the Israelite priestly class, which claims descent from Aaron, the brother of Moses. These are not exclusive to the Kohanim, but appear among them at a higher frequency.
These are also shared with some non-Jewish Semitic peoples. Many of the Bene Israel emigrated from India to Israel, where around 6, Jews of this group reside. About 5, remain in India. They maintain 65 synagogues in Israel. The Beta Israel or Falasha is a group formerly living in Ethiopia who have a tradition of descent from the lost tribe of Dan. They have a long history of practicing such Jewish traditions as kashrut, Sabbath and Passover, and had Jewish texts. In , their claim of Jewishness was accepted by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Israeli government.
The government assisted them in emigrating en masse to Israel during the s and s as Jews under the Law of Return , when Ethiopia was undergoing civil war. Some who claim to be Beta Israel still live in Ethiopia. The Bnei Menashe is a group in India claiming to be descendants of the half-tribe of Menashe. Members who have studied Hebrew and who observe the Sabbath and other Jewish laws in received the support of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel to arrange formal conversion to Judaism. Some have converted and immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return.
Modern researchers believe these Jews were descended from Persian merchants who settled in China during the early Song Dynasty. They prospered during the Ming Dynasty as Confucian civil servants, soldiers, and merchants, but they quickly assimilated and lost much of their Jewish heritage. By the beginning of the 19th century, the last rabbi with knowledge of Hebrew died, leaving no successor.
The community had become extinct religiously by the late Qing Dynasty due to anti-foreign persecutions brought on by the Taiping Rebellion and Boxer Rebellion. There are a small number of Chinese people today who consider themselves to be descendants of these Jews. Despite their isolation from the rest of the Jewish diaspora , the Jews of Kaifeng preserved Jewish traditions and customs for many centuries. In the 17th century, assimilation began to erode these traditions. The rate of intermarriage between Jews and other ethnic groups, such as the Han Chinese , and the Hui and Manchu minorities in China, increased.
The destruction of the synagogue in the s led to the community's demise. Liebermann, the first Western Jew to visit Kaifeng in , noted that "they still had a burial ground of their own". Perlmann, the Shanghai businessman and scholar, wrote in that "they bury their dead in coffins, but of a different shape than those of the Chinese are made, and do not attire the dead in secular clothes as the Chinese do, but in linen". Today, , residents of Kaifeng trace their lineage to this community.
With the help of Jewish organizations, some members of the community have emigrated to Israel. The Lemba , group of people from southern Africa, primarily Zimbabwe and South Africa , speak the Bantu languages spoken by their geographic neighbours and resemble them physically, but they have some religious practices and beliefs similar to those in Judaism and Islam , which they claim were transmitted by oral tradition. A small Hispano group of Sephardic Jews in northern New Mexico may be one of the oldest groups of practicing Jews in North America, dating back to the early Spanish settlers of Jewish descent who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism as Conversos or New Christians , or both after Some families of Conversos began to settle in Mexico City in the s and s.
Some converted back to Judaism; others maintained some Jewish beliefs and practices in secret. After the Spanish Inquisition came to the New World in , the conversos were threatened with death if it was found they were practicing Judaism. In , the first expedition was made to New Mexico, and included conversos. Outwardly Catholic, these forced converts maintained Jewish practices and customs for generations in secret, hence their name, " Crypto-Jews ". They have been the subject of recent academic study. A genetic study of men in the early s showed that many Hispanos of the American Southwest are descended from Anusim Sephardic Jews who were forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism.
Only Catholic Spanish were allowed to go to the New World with the exploration and colonial expeditions. Families first kept their secrets for protection and then out of habit. Their history makes it most likely that they are Jewish rather than Arabic Muslim. In , a gene mutation that is typically found only in Ashkenazi Jews, and is linked to a virulent form of breast cancer in women, was discovered in a cluster of Hispanic Catholic women in southern Colorado, many of whom trace their family's roots to northern New Mexico.
It was conclusively shown to be related to Jewish ancestry, given the history of the people in the area, and many families reported knowledge of a high incidence of cancer. After testing and notification of families, researchers worked with the extended families on genetic counseling and to develop health strategies for monitoring, early detection and treatment, as they were faced with the higher risk associated with the gene. Other evidence of Jewish ancestry is language.
According to a Jewish genealogy blog, so-called "Mountain Spanish", a Spanish dialect spoken by many of the old families of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado—and chiefly only among themselves—appears to be a form of Ladino or Judezmo. This was a hybrid language that developed among Sephardic Jews in Iberia, from Old Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew , with sprinklings of Arabic , Greek and other languages, depending on the geographic region of the speakers or their ancestors.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 25 June Main article: Conversion to Judaism. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. See also: Secular Jewish culture. Main article: Law of Return. See also: Marriage in Israel. See also: Israelite and Ten Lost Tribes. See also: Cochin Jews. See also: Bene Israel. Further information: History of the Jews in China.
See also: Jews and Judaism in Africa. Zera Yisrael. Google Books. Retrieved Edgar Litt Social Forces. Institute for Curriculum Services. Archived from the original PDF on October 21, Retrieved October 21, Sean Ireton Retrieved December 30, Levey, Geoffrey Brahm. Alan Winter March Review of Religious Research. June 17, Journal of Law and the Biosciences. Cohen The Beginnings of Jewishness. California Press. Retrieved November 8, Ohr Somayach. Jewish Virtual Library. You could do with Jews whatever you liked.
Professor Sir Ian Kershaw: The aim of destroying the power of the Jews, shall we say, was there right from the very beginning.
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How this would be undertaken nobody knew, not even Hitler, but obviously during the s the big aim was to expel the Jews from Germany as far as possible. For everything. Their anti-Semitic prejudice knew no bounds. The Nazis so persecuted the German Jews in the s that half of them had been forced out of the country by But alongside this persecution Hitler tried to create for non-Jewish Germans an atmosphere of optimism and hope. Words of Erna Kranz German schoolgirl, s : An elite race was being promoted. Well, I have to say it was somewhat contagious. Commentary: Hitler led the Germans into war against Poland on the 1st September And once in Poland, the Nazis were to increase the ferocity of their attack on the Jews.
Professor Sir Ian Kershaw: Once you were into the war, once you attacked Poland, then at one fell swoop another two and a half million Jews were in the hands of the Nazis. And they had to devise policies to deal with those. So in those 18 months an immense radicalisation in the direction of genocide had already taken place on Polish soil. Commentary: The Nazi rule of Poland was brutal in the extreme.
History of the Jews in Poland
Arbitrary arrests and executions were commonplace. Hundreds of thousands were thrown out of their homes to make way for German settlers. But it was the Jews of Poland who were to suffer most.
What was being created here in Poland by the Nazis was a slave state to be ruled by a German master race.