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Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Racism is evil, and it is our duty as Jews to fight evil."


This is a comment that was posted as an additional detail under a very inflammatory question posted in Yahoo Answers. I was composing an answer when the asker chose, what IMHO was the worst answer and one whose statements about the links given, did not even accurately reflect what was portrayed by the content.

Therefore, I will address this issue here. A good portion of this is from the answer I had composed, and the rest are additional comments to things others had posted there.


I certainly agree with that comment I quoted above as the title here. That is what Torah teaches *all* Jews.


The Jewish people, especially in the United States, have been at the forefront of combating racism and in fact, my experience and that of my family is that we are doubly hated by those who hate black people because of it.



Some of this answer will have also appeared elsewhere on this blog but I repeat it to make the point very clear that Judaism does not support or condone racism and actively teaches against it.



If you believe that being black is being held against you in your Jewish community then your community needs to be called out and chastised and educated as they’re NOT living Jewishly

Period.



Now as to the self-identified Korean Jew who wrote on one link that Jews need to “expand” the definition of a Jew that did not equate Jewishness with race..and acts as if that is a Jewish idea to begin with, read absurd to anyone who knows Jewish law regarding Jewish identity.  Judaism does not equate Jewishness with any modern concept of race! The notions he is speaking out against are those that Jews have spoken out against in the world for generations. The following link was posted on the question as if evidence to support his notions.



http://www.isabellafreedman.org/pdfs/ThePlightofthenonwhitejew.pdf



For my entire life I have ONLY ever seen Jews speak out AGAINST the false notion of defining Jewish identity as based on race, an idea born out of antisemitism and imposed into widespread notion so strongly he doesn’t even recognize that what he is trying to say as a Jewish notion is NOT and contradicts Jewish law itself.  That writer appears so ignorant of Jewish law, Judaism, the history of Jews speaking out against this …to know that his essay appears absurd. One has only to read HUNDREDS of Jewish explanations here on Yahoo Answers from Jews of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism from three continents alone to see that clearly, too.


When he says this:
“Closer to home, Asian Jews are not taken seriously. I, as a Korean Jew, must every year explain to teachers and friends why I will not be coming in on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Everyone I meet must first be introduced to the idea of an Asian
Jew. The common response is:
"You're Jewish?!?
To which I must respond "Yes".
My friend, an Aryan-German Jew, must calmly explain to people that race and religion are independent of each other. Many people seem to believe that Judaism is a race. A common exchange is as follows:
"You're Jewish?!?" "Yes".
"But you're German!"
"Yea, well they didn't get all of us".
A long explanation should not be required to convey one's religion. This is why a change is in order.”


In that quote where he's trying to support his idea of Jews redefining Jewish identity to include the non white Jew he is not even talking about Jewish views or Jews! He is addressing non-Jews who have adopted the sense of entitlement to redefine Jewish identity.

He is NOT speaking of the Jewish definition of who is a Jew! He is speaking of the antisemitic definition of Jewish identity and IGNORANCE about Jewish identity based on Jewish law as he so openly displays himself by not recognizing that Jews continually speak out against that kind of redefinition. And Jews have done this for GENERATIONS.



Many white Jews such as myself have not seen many black Jews simply because there are very few of them to see. They *are* a minority within a minority.  If I have often been the ONLY Jew that many people in my community have said they have ever met,.and I’m a blonde haired blue eyed Jew who gets told ALL the time that I can’t be a “real Jew”..then I can certainly imagine that a black Jew would get the same reaction…but not from any Jews who understand Jewish law regarding Jewish identity.



In fact, when my synagogue had a black family who appeared and began attending and then joined the synagogue, and we saw that all of them were quite fluent in Hebrew, appeared to be knowledgeable and they claimed to be and gave appearance of being observant and whose children were all well behaved and the adults wanted to help teach our children in the small congregation one on one Hebrew lessons..we jumped at the chance to embrace the husband and wife as teachers within the small community. The family was involved with every aspect of our synagogue life, I danced with them at a Bar Mitzvah, sat next to them at services, had invited them to my home ( though they never took up the invitation) and our children studied together at the synagogue.



Then..I began to feel suspicious about them, not because of skin color, but because of behavior, things like..trying to work too hard to convince me how Jewish they were when I had never asked or given any indication that I doubted their Jewishness..  Ironically,.that is often a clue that someone is posing as a Jew.  Then in several friendly conversations about our children and their studies, next I recognized phrases coming from the mother that I often heard from fundamentalist Christians speaking of certain concepts, but using Hebrew to do it. Concepts that are essentially foreign to Judaism, but things that many Christians mistakenly think Jews believe. She had told me that she was a convert to Judaism, so  I thought may be to do with the fact that she had not been raised in Judaism but converted and was having a hard time ridding herself of self-concepts foreign to Judaism.



Then I overheard one of their children using phrases right from the New Testament, but in Hebrew. He had written it down on a piece of paper.  I saved it.  I am not fluent in Hebrew, but I recalled what the child said to another, looked it up and was quite surprised that in their Hebrew classes this little boy was teaching his classmates to recite New Testament verses in Hebrew.  This let me know for certain that they were not of the Jewish religion. So then I voiced my concern to our Rabbi that it appeared we had Messianics in our midst who were teaching our children. I was also a teacher there at the time, third generation of my family at this synagogue. I would not make an unfounded accusation.


 As a 30 year member of the NAACP, member of the SPLC for 20 years and I had also had black friends come to the synagogue to attend services before, so there was no reason to suspect that I was being bigoted based on color…yet the first response out of my Rabbi's mouth to me was..


"Just because they are black isn’t a reason to assume they’re not Jews”.



I was really taken aback at first, astonished at the implication but, I was glad to see that the Rabbi who was not from the south, and perhaps had her own stereotypes to deal with and who had only known me a year since first becoming our Rabbi, wanted to make sure that was not a part of it. It wasn’t until months later when other objective and irrefutable evidence of their family membership in a Christian group was established and it was discovered that one of the adults was trying to mix in Christian doctrine with their teaching that they were asked to leave the synagogue and their membership rescinded. We do not like fraud. They had presented themselves as observant, ORTHODOX Jews (there is no Orthodox synagogue within an hour of this community) and they were as far from that as a tiger is from being vegan. I had not heard them declare they were Orthodox Jews, but the rabbi told me that is what they told her.



They would never have gained the positions within that small Jewish community that they did, and did so RAPIDLY if they had been discriminated against because of skin color. Some people, like myself think that they actually got away with fraudulent membership for longer because of fear that it would be assumed and accused that they were discriminated against for being black in a small rural southern synagogue.  Recall the first knee-jerk reaction of the rabbi when I spoke of the child teaching New Testament verses in Hebrew?


Accusations of any nature regarding one’s legitimacy of being a Jew or not being a Jew are taken very seriously within the Jewish community. Jewish law is the standard to determine Jewish identity…not race. NEVER has it been about race.



The Ethiopian Beta Yisrael ..unlike what the Korean Jew states…have been in existence since Solomon, and were only discovered by the “outside world” in the years he claims their existence began..for many hundreds of years, they believed themselves to be the ONLY Jews. So their concept of Jews would have been that all Jews are black. There isn’t anything inherently racist in thinking that the people of your group are like what you know and experience..and especially if you combine it with direct Torah teachings that forbid such notions..what is bigoted is to call Judaism racist.

Jewish children growing up in areas where Jews are only one ethnicity or culture..will assume UNLESS taught of the diversity within Judaism..that Jews are all like them. Luckly, even though I never set eyes on a black Jew in person until I was grown ( and I’m not talking about the Christians posing as Jews who had no tie to Judaism whatsoever) I knew that Jews come in all races and ethnicities.



If you are LUCKY enough to live in an area with a large enough Jewish population you may see MANY Jewish ethnicities and cultures represented..or even in a smaller community you may see more than one. Sometimes NOT. This is why EDUCATION for DIVERSITY..as that second link is about..is important. It isn’t about combating racism in JUDAISM. Judaism has always been against such a thing.


  That there are some Jewish bigots ( apparently of more than one color) is most likely a fact, however that isn’t acceptable in any Jewish community. Jews have always been at the FOREFRONT of civil rights and speaking out against racism.


Newsflash, not every Jew is either an adherent of Judaism or even has a clue about Judaism or Jewish law.  There are Jewish bigots, too. There have been bad Jews in every generation but they don't change Jewish law OR what should be acceptable within a synagogue community. Judaism has never taught racism, but the LACK of Jewish education for so many, and the obvious extreme fundamentalist teachings of a small minority of Jews are both things that the larger world Jewish community does not represent and it is Jews who usually speak out loudest against our own who violate the standards of  ethics our sages and Torah teach us regarding who and what we are.


My parents were members of the NAACP and I joined at age 18. I grew up as a child being called “nigger lover” by neighbor children and classmates because of my parents being outspoken for promotion of civil rights.



Even here in the rural south..the Rabbi would rather risk assuming that a respected white Jewish woman who had worked in interfaith and intercultural activities my whole life, and whose mother and grandmother did the same in a much more prominent capacity could be biased rather than first risk offending someone because they were black. At first I was angered by not being believed when I reported what I heard and that it took  several other others to report similar things before it was investigated. But now after reading the lies on Yahoo..I can certainly see why such CAUTION might be taken. After all..bigotry against blacks does still exist in a very widespread manner and I KNOW that someone both black and Jewish would get more than a double whammy of it.


To any black Jew..I know that to remain Jewish..you possess a commitment that is as great as that of any Orthodox, Ashekanzi white skinned European Jew who lives in a community surrounded by their cultural peers. I know this because I also know that even living as a white skinned Jew in an area where there are few Jews requires greater commitment than what I think we’re often given credit for possessing.



While you as a black skinned Jew may feel extra discrimination because of your skin color..if it *is* coming from other Jews..then speak out about it to your Rabbi because that is something that should NEVER be tolerated in a Jewish community. I do not know of any Jew who would not support you in this. If Jews of my parents generation were lynched and terrorized right alongside Christian blacks to support their civil rights, then how on earth could any Jew not assume that white Jews would not stand up against anyone who discriminates against our own!!!





Do not think that because you are asked if you are a “real Jew” that it is because of BIGOTRY inherent in Judaism or promoted in Judaism at all. I am a blonde haired, blue eyed Jew and if I had a dollar for every time in my life I have been either asked “ are you a real Jew?” or “ are you a convert?” or “ who in your family converted?” or simply stated or ARGUED with me that “YOU can’t be a real Jew!", I would then be wealthy ( I've been told I couldn't be a real Jew before, too by many non Jews because I'm not wealthy)

I have even been asked this by Jews…of course Jews ignorant of Jewish law and far, far less than by non Jews. Not every Jew in the world knows Judaism or Jewish law. Shocking huh?

My SON was asked by the sister of a prominent Jeweler from a well known Jewish family..at his Bar Mitzvah..” When I saw you I thought you must have been adopted to be a Jew, then I saw your mother and wondered if she was a convert?” ( My husband is the non Jew but he has dark hair ..she assumed he was a Jew)

My son’s jaw dropped, but I chimed in matter of factly..nope, He’s the fourth generation of his family to read from the Torah here. This isn't somnething we usually hear from Jews, but from non-Jews who do not know Jewish law about Jewish identity.

Then came the confession from the woman who said this, that while her parents were Jewish and they would come for High Holy days and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and some other celebrations, she really had no formal Jewish education or upbringing and apologized for her ignorance.  I smiled and said, Jews aren't born knowing about Judaism or Jewish history, you're never too, old to learn!



So, once again. It is NOT Judaism that promotes bigotry or bias to anyone but ignorance OF Judaism.

And if your community is biased to you because of your skin color.. You will have ALL believing Jews in your corner to speak out against it. Simply provide the evidence and I guarantee you’ll have other Jews there toe to toe in their face to tell them they’re violating Torah.



If I lived near enough to you to do so I would have no hesitation doing so myself and I can vouch for any Jew I know personally to do the same.



When I read the headline of a recent article in my local newspaper titled " Black and Jewish", I thought perhaps it was going to be referring to a well known website in the Jewish community and group by that name ”Black and Jewish”, since there have been black Jews since the days of the Torah and Jews the world over have accepted this because it is simply a part of Judaism. We know that there were and are black Jews and Jews of every race on the planet, the ‘question’ of whether or not someone’s Jewish identity is even at question because of race is not a Jewish way of looking AT Jewish identity.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ghGk5Lj6-e5KJOZMpIzs-pBPVnTAD97ECNBG1

The above article by Kathy Matheson of the Associated Press includes some egregiously misleading phrases that come from a very non-Jewish perspective of Judaism.

When she says that “the group has been working to persuade Jews to break through the racial divisions that have alienated African-American, African and other ethnic minority Jews from the larger community” that is most assuredly NOT speaking from the perspective OF the Jewish community. On further reading, it is in fact, a thinking of those groups that are outside of Judaism that wish to make it about race. Race has never had a thing to do with it.

It is a NON-Jewish notion of Jews as a race, or being confined to one “race”. That has been a core truth of Jewish identity since the days OF the Torah. This is one reason why Jews were also at the forefront of abolitionism and civil rights movements, since Torah teaches us all humans are of equal worth, Jew and non Jew. Now with regard to Jewish identity, the sole issue with acceptance of that group highlighted in the article was something very different than race. Race did NOT have a thing to do with whether or not they were considered Jews by the Jewish community. The article only briefly referred to it in a later quote as almost an afterthought or byline. However that quote addressed that the real issue is whether or not they qualified to be Jews according to the laws of Jewish identity…the Torah.
“ What makes somebody Jewish is not the congregation you belong to, but whether you were converted appropriately,” said Jeffrey Gurock, a professor at Yeshiva University, an Orthodox school in New York.

THAT is the issue. It has NOTHING to do with them being black.

I repeat, race had nothing to do with this and the article was false because it’s premise was based on that false assumption.

While that quote is from an Orthodox professor, the same holds true for all movements. The determination of Jewish identity is based on Jewish law, and even among the most liberal branch, Reform, of which I am a member, there are rules that define Jewish identity. Again, race has never had a thing to do with these determinations.

Because there are groups and individuals who wish to purposely misrepresent Jewish identity and confuse others for agendas of either bigotry, identity theft, replacement theology or all of the above, there remains much confusion among many when that is really unnecessary. Jews who know Judaism and Jewish law don’t have these confusions, and once non-Jews learn these facts of Jewish law and recognize that Jews have the same rights of self-determination that are afforded to all nation peoples, they lose these confusions as well.

Jews are a nation people, Israel (tribal origin) bound by an eternal covenant of the faith (religion) of Judaism. We are like a huge family and only the family through our laws can determine who is a member of it. It is the laws of Judaism, given to the covenant nation, Israel, in the Torah, that determine Jewish identity. It is not a matter of “blood” but of self-determination through the laws of the Jewish people. I know that sounds repetitive but I repeated that because that appears hard for some to grasp.

People related to one another share genetic markers. Jews began as a family, then as a small group of tribes and has remained tribal in nature. However, Jews are NOT considered a race. Jews are not *an* ethnicity. There is simply NO single Jewish ethnicity. Neither ethnicity or race define Jewish identity. I repeat, it is Jewish law that defines Jewish identity.

We are Klal Yisrael, the community of Israel. . **MANY** different and distinctly Jewish cultures and ethnicities have developed over the millennia in Diaspora lands. The Diaspora refers to the Jewish presence outside of Israel after the destruction of the First and Second Temple periods and the Bar Kochba revolt.

There are many ethnicities that are distinctly Jewish. There are the Mizrahi (from the Middle East and North Africa).The Sephardi (Spanish) and the Ashkenazi, (German, Polish, Russian and other Eastern European), the Beta Yisrael of Ethiopia, and the Bene Israel, Cochini and Baghdadi of India and there are even others. Each are different as to cultural practices and foods, but it is the faith and covenant that binds them all together as Klal Yisrael.

The Jewish people are considered both a nation and a religion. Our connection is primarily one of faith (religion) through the covenant of Israel, yet membership is also conferred by birth, through matrilineal descent. One may also become a part of the nation Israel by adoption of the faith of Judaism and formal procedures of conversion.

One who converts to Judaism is considered as FULLY Jewish as one born Jewish and their children are Jews. This has been the case since Avraham.  .
However, one may technically be a Jew if their mother is a Jew, but apostate to the covenant of Israel and no longer considered a member of the nation if they leave it for the covenant of faith of another religion.

The Jewish nation began as a group of tribes and our connection to one another is still from the perspective of a tribal nation. (example: as the Lakota nation has tribal procedure and law to determine who is a member of their tribe, who is not, who is expelled and who is adopted, so does Judaism)

One born a member of the tribal covenant nation Israel (Jewish) may not be observant or even believe in God and they’re still a full member, a Jew. They may not be a good member or an active member but they’ve not renounced membership by following something ELSE instead of Judaism. An atheist or a secular Jew is not trying to call something ELSE Judaism. That is how one may be an "atheist Jew". Not believing that there is such a thing as deity, any deity is not following a false deity. An atheist Jew may live Jewish ethics and identify with their people, but they did not take on foreign beliefs contradictory to the monotheism of Torah. An atheist may not convert *to* Judaism to become a member of the tribe because an affirmation of faith in the God of Israel is required to JOIN.

Now if one born into the covenant becomes apostate through rejection of the covenant by adoption of another belief contradictory to the covenant, they are still be considered a Jew for purposes of judgement of their avodah zarah,  but for all intents and purposes, they're not given the status of a member. According to Jewish law they're not counted in a minyan,(the minimum number of adults required for certain prayers and other mitzvot), they can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery, they cannot be given honors to go up to read Torah at a synagogue, and they may not be allowed to speak for the Jewish people. Their membership status can be restored in full without formal conversion should they repent of their idolatrous or foreign god worship. Only then may apostates be embraced again as full members. One who has left the Jewish people for the foreign faith of another people must undergo the steps of teshuvah , which means repentance and return to the God of Israel. Some groups may require that the individual also requires immersion in the mikveh before being accepted back, but they do not require the formal steps of conversion should the person wish to return.

Jews are in NO way a *race* other than as members of the human race. For those of you who want to claim Judaism doesn't accept converts as fully Jewish, how about Ruth in the Bible? She was a member of the Moabite nation that was condemned to be separate from God for their evil. However, she was a righteous woman who converted and adopted the faith of Israel and was the ancestor of King David.

When a Jew adopts a belief that is in conflict with the Jewish religion, the belief does NOT become a " Jewish belief" just because a Jew chooses to believe in it. THAT is the conflict Jews have with some Christian groups who call themselves Jews if they deceptively try to present their Christian belief AS Judaism. A Jew who converts to Hare Krishna is just as apostate, but there exists no Jews for Hare Krishna or Hare Krishna Judaism evangelical groups spending millions of dollars a year in campaigns to convert secular Jews by convincing them it is a form of Judaism.

You can become a member of a tribe or nation if you meet the criteria of citizenship. And the covenant people, Klal Yisrael, remain as in the earliest days of the covenant..a nation. It hasn't changed.
While I spoke out against the adoption of this controversial allowance in 1983 ( as I recognized then it would be abused as it often has proven to be ) Reform Judaism in the United States (of which I am a member) will consider as Jewish one whose father is a Jew IF the child was RAISED in Judaism actively and exclusively. Even in Reform Judaism, simply having a Jewish father without exclusively Jewish upbringing, would require conversion on the part of the person with only a Jewish father to become a Jew. Reform Judaism also recognizes that only Orthodox conversion is considered acceptable to all movements.

It is against Jewish law for any Jew to discriminate against a convert to Judaism. Since the time of the receiving of Torah converts have been accepted as fully Jewish, and this is the case in all branches. We are not even supposed to refer to the fact that they are converts! It is up to them if they wish to identify themselves as such. They are Jews, period.

The covenant people, Israel have been MULTIRACIAL since the days of Torah, Moses' wife, Zipporah was a black woman. I was raised to believe that the “mixed multitude” that came out of Egypt referred to the fact that there were Jews of every race who came out of Egypt and in every generation this is what we celebrate and honor at Passover all over the world among Jews of all races. There have been Ethiopian Beta Yisrael since the days of Solomon! And I repeat, one cannot convert to a race. One may convert and become fully Jewish.

There are several groups who claim Jewish identity but are not recognized by any branch of Judaism in any part of the world as being a part of the Jewish community. None of the groups who follow the New Testament as a form of belief are recognized by any branch of Judaism as being Jewish. At least one of these is a black group, called the Black Hebrew Israelites. This cult is recognized by the FBI and civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai Brith as a racist hate group.

http://www.cesnur.org/testi/FBI_006.htm
excerpts from the FBI report above
This movement has been associated with extreme acts of violence in the recent past, and current intelligence from a variety of sources indicates that extreme factions of BHI groups are preparing for a race war to close the millennium.
Violent BHI followers can generally be described as proponents of an extreme form of black supremacy. Drawing upon the teachings of earlier BHI adherents, such groups hold that blacks represent God’s true “chosen people,” while condemning whites as incarnate manifestations of evil. As God’s “authentic” Jews, BHI adherents believe that mainstream Jews are actually imposters. Such beliefs bear a striking resemblance to the Christian Identity theology practiced by many white supremacists. In fact, Tom Metzger, renowned white supremacist, once remarked, “They’re the black counterpart of us.” [28] Like their Christian Identity counterparts, militant BHI followers tend to see themselves as divinely endowed by God with superior status. As a result, some followers of this belief system hold that violence, including murder, is justifiable in the eyes of God, provided that it helps to rid the world of evil.
[32] Neither the Israeli government nor the Orthodox rabbinate recognize the legitimacy of BHI claims to Judaism. According to Jewish law, an individual can be recognized as Jewish if he/she was born to a Jewish mother or if the individual agrees to convert to Judaism. [33] At present, BHI in Israel have legal status as temporary residents, which gives them the right to work and live in Israel, but not to vote. They are not considered to be Israeli citizens. While BHI claims to Judaism are disregarded by Israeli officials and religious leaders, the BHI community is tolerated and appears to be peaceful. [34]
*** my note ..their race war hoped for in 2000 did not materialize, but they haven't given up preparations for it as the other articles from the Southern Poverty Law Center reveal:
They do not follow Judaism and are not recognized as Jews by any branch of Judaism.
BRB with information on them
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=941
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=433
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=55
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=448
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?sid=169
THAT is the only “black” group I know of that Jews have a major problem with in regard to Jewish identity and it is because THEY consider their identity based on notions of race rather than Torah and the fact that they follow beliefs that are utterly outside of and contradictory to Judaism, as some of the other groups who hijack Jewish identity are known to do.
Because this group that they are referring to in the article has a history of association with the other black groups who also followed Christian doctrine and the notion of Jews as a RACE, even adopting the notion that the white skinned Jews were all somehow not really the descendents of the tribes of Israel because of a long disproved notion that all European Jews are from the converts of the Khazar empire. The Khazars were a small ethnic group of Turkey that chose to convert to Judaism rather than to either Islamic or Christian armies that had threatened them. The notion that light-skinned Jews, or Jews from Europe are all Khazars and somehow imposters is a hallmark of the White supremacist and antisemitic Christian Identity ideology. Oddly, the Black Israelite Hebrew Christian groups while rejecting white racism in other regards, adopted this notion about the Jews while claiming to be the sole “real “ nation of Israel. In addition to the fact that this group is comprised of people who , with very rare exception, have no legal tie to the Jewish people through formal conversion or birth, are associated with non-Jewish and often racist beliefs is one reason that their Jewish identity has been questioned. Please refer to this article
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/magazine/05rabbi-t.html?hpw=&pagewanted=all
From the article in the New York Times:
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Reform Movement, is, like Potasnik, ready to consider new possibilities. “The fact that men and women sit separately in the Israelite congregations might be a problem for us on gender-equality grounds,” he told me. “But race would certainly be no problem for us.”
Once again, the notion of RACE to determine identity is not a Jewish notion and violates Jewish law
It is a NON Jewish notion that was created out of antisemitism. That some black groups wish to define Jewish identity on race is also repugnant to the larger world Jewish community, no matter their skin color or “race”. Jewish writings always dispel this long held view that unfortunately because of the widespread nature of it’s acceptance decades ago, is sometimes held by people in innocent ignorance without knowing its origins. Many people who even know this notion is insulting to Jews mistakenly believe the Nazis were the first to disrespect the Jewish laws regarding Jewish identity by claiming Jews are a race rather than a covenant nation people who practice Judaism. However, it did not begin with the Nazis. It was firmly entrenched into European consciousness among a great many non-Jews before Hitler ever rose to power.
This false notion was begun in the mid 1800's among some of the 'philosphers" of Europe, particularly French and German who were developing pseudo-scientific concepts of race. One in particular was highly influential in spreading this toxic notion, and he did not confine his racism to Jews, but his particular form of Jew hate spread to influence millions. Ernest Renan, who lived from 1823-1892 and was from Brittany is credited with popularizing this false notion. Renan has been criticised for antisemitism because of his comments on the alleged limitations of the Semitic mentality. Renan claimed that the Semitic mind was limited by dogmatism and lacked a cosmopolitan conception of civilisation. For Renan, Semites were "an incomplete race".

Ernest Renan's ideas about how "Semitic races" were inferior to "Aryan races." These pseudo-scientific theories concerning race, civilization, and "progress" had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Others, especially Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. In Treitschke's writings Semitic was synonymous with Jewish.

This pseudo-scientific notion had become so widespread it was even allowed to influence United States immigration policies in 1914 who placed quotas on "Hebrews". That was what Jews were designated on immigration forms under “race”. Other immigrants had quotas, but they were listed by country of origin and their religion or ethnic status was not referred to on the ships manifest.

The quotas specific to Jewish immigrants began being strictly enforced in 1914 and the quota for Jews was dramatically reduced in 1924. This went on until after World War 2. Many Jews who later tried to flee Nazi Germany for the United States were turned away because of these quotas, and many of them were killed. This meant that if let's say, the quota for immigrants from Hungary had not been met, but the quota for "Hebrews" from all of Europe had been met, the only immigrants that could continue to arrive for that year would be non-Jews. No other religious group had such identifiers placed on their passports and ships' manifests. One may go to the Ellis Island web site and view ship's manifests and see how non-Jewish passengers were listed as Lithuanian, Polish, Russian etc, while Jews from those same countries were all listed as "Hebrew". This was the case for my own grandparents and aunts and uncles in 1920 as well. On many of the different manifests, there is a column even designating "race" and that is where Hebrew is listed, on others, it is listed under "Nationality" and then a separate column lists "country of origin". They were clever in how they could discriminate using this false notion of race.
Both false ideas, that the dogma of a contradictory religion to Judaism or the pseudo scientific ideas of antisemites who created the concept of Jews as race have authority to determine Jewish identity OVER the right of the laws of the people in question , reveals utter disregard and disrespect of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination according to Jewish law with regard to who is or is not a Jew.

The laws of Judaism forbid Jews from making distinctions between convert and born Jew and Jewish law does not teach us that God is exclusive to the Jew. Therefore, understanding what Jewish law teaches Jews about Jewish identity and our identity in relation to others helps promote greater understandings between Jew and non-Jew, rather than the confusion, misconceptions and misrepresentations that lead to dissention and bigotry.
The Jewish Bible ( Tanakh ) tells from the beginning book to the end that the righteous of all nations ( Jew or Gentile ) have the capacity to connect directly to God, merit blessing and a place in the world to come. Every human is equal before God according to the Jewish religion. Atonement is directly from God.
Shalom

References for the purpose of definition, Jewish identity and belief, different Jewish cultures and practices:
http://geography.about.com/cs/politicalgeog/a/statenation.htm
definitions of nation, country, state. Torah calls us the covenant NATION many times.
http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm
http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/
An EXCELLENT resource to learn the differences between Judaism and Christianity from a Biblical perspective.The author, Rabbi Stuart Federow is a well respected Rabbi who also co-hosts an interfaith radio program with a Catholic Priest and a Protestant Minister.
http://www.jewish-languages.org/ This is a link to a source that is a scholarly study of the development of Jewish languages. It will help you if you are interested in studying the different Jewish cultures and ethnicities..note PLURAL


Here is a great site for you about REAL black Jews:
http://www.angelfire.com/ca/dorseydon/f3main.html


http://www.beingjewish.com/identity/race.html
http://www.beingjewish.com/basics/beliefs.html both good references on Jewish identity and belief


Now..this was another re4ference given at that question that was supposed to be EVIDENCE of a problem within Judaism of racism. This checklist reads to me as a problem that may exist perhaps within that person's community, but also within their own misconception that some of the things they mention they appear to believe are exclusive to Black Jews OR that they have a thing to do with RACE and not some other issue entirely that affects all Jews. Please read my point by point notes on why most of those things can't be "checked" in the manner the author assumes people will read this.
http://garretandstudio.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/ashkenazi-privilege-checklist/



__ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as outsider.


I can walk into MY Temple and feel that as I grew up there.


Any stranger, of any skin color, walking into a synagogue may be considered an outsider today with security issues.


___ I can walk into my temple and feel that others do not see me as exotic.


“exotic”? what is this supposed to mean? I have no way to answer this yes or no. I am considered “exotic” in terms of unique by so many non Jews for being a blue eyed, blonde Jew.


___ I can walk into my temple and feel that my children are seen as Jews.


Yes, but how does this have a thing to do with skin color?  My child is seen as a Jew because the Jewish community knew he was born to a Jew.   


The only reasons one would have their Jewishness doubted is NOT because of skin color but other issues…parentage, beliefs espoused, is the child being raised in Judaism alone?


___ I can walk into temple with my family and not worry that they will be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin.


Correct, and so can any dark skinned person, Jew or non Jew as they have done so for decades in my community.


___ I can enjoy music at my temple that reflects the tunes, prayers, and cultural roots of my specific Jewish heritage.


At my synagogue, yes..but sometimes there are tunes, and prayers reflecting other ethnicities besides my own. And increasingly they’re more Sephardic than what I’m familiar with.


___ No one at my synagogue will attempt to assign me to a ethnicity to which I do not belong (e.g., assuming all Jews of African descent are Igbo or Ethiopian).


I have been assigned to ethnicities to which I do not belong by other members..I’ve been told I look “Swedish” or “Danish”


___ I can easily find greeting cards and books with images of Jews who look like me.


Nope, as often the images are stereotyped with dark hair and I’m very fair and blonde. There are even far more images of Jews in greeting cards or books with red hair than with blonde hair.


___ I can easily find Jewish books and toys for my children with images of Jews that look like them. Again a No.


In the bookstores I've been in there were actually more children’s books for Jews with images of black skinned Jews than there were showing blonde haired jews. We laughed about it at the time. No blonde Jews in the children’s books we saw there.


I'm serious. I thought it was ODD.


___ I am not singled out to speak about and as a representative of an “exotic” Jewish subgroup.


Nope, I’m not. Not at the synagogue, but out in the "world" I have been.


But my son is often singled out to speak as a representative of Judaism as an "exotic" ( if you mean very different from everyone else) member of his school community. This happened to him from K-12.


___ When I go to Jewish bookstores or restaurants, I am not seen as an outsider.


This isn’t a thing to do with skin color. Jewish restaurants and bookstores are open to ALL people Jew or NOT so the “outsider” business is non sequitur


___ I find my experiences and images like mine in Jewish newspapers and magazines.

Not too many experiences of rural southern Jewish women are found in Jewish newspapers and magazines that I read.

I see images of black Jews in every Jewish publication I subscribe to, even though black Jews comprise only about two percent of all Jews. So, I would think they also find few, but see that they're there, too.


___ I do not worry about access to housing or apartments in predominately Jewish neighborhoods.


I’ve never lived anywhere remotely near any predominately Jewish neighborhood. 


___ My rabbi never questions that I am Jewish.


No. But then every rabbi we've had in my community knew my family history.  A rabbi asking if you're a Jew doesn't mean he's assuming you're not.


 If there is ever a time when any rabbi should think of skin color as a reason to question Jewishness, that's when that rabbi should be questioned by his peers!


Skin color would never be a reason for a rabbi to question that one is Jewish


___ When I tell other members of my synagogue that I feel marginalized, they are immediately and appropriately responsive.


If there is a legitimate reason other than what has been posted above, I would definitely respond as a synagogue is NO place to promote violation of Jewish law, any notion of race having a thing to do with Jewish identity or bigotry of any form!

I've felt "marginalized" and excluded quite often in my small Jewish community. Few were responsive. Race wasn't an issue.  If your synagogue is excluding you because of race, you need to find a different synagogue or get support from outside to help them understand their error.


___ There are other children at the religious school who look like my child.


Well, we used to have other blonde children there, but for a while he was the only blonde child. There are 200 Jews total in a population area of more than 100,000 people.


___ My child’s authenticity as a Jew is never questioned by adults or children based on his/her skin color.


I would say this is should applicable to all Jews. Skin color no..affiliation with other NON Jewish beliefs , yes. 


___ People never say to me, “But you don’t look Jewish,” either seriously or as though it was funny.

This one I've lived with as long as I can remember.
I have heard this countless thousands of times since I was a small child.  I still hear it, from non Jews, but very rarely, even from some Jews ( typically Jews vacationing or moving here from New York !)


My son was tired of hearing from non Jews how he didn’t’ look Jewish by the time he entered first grade. He even heard it from a Jewish woman who admitted she grew up not learning anything about Judaism at his Bar Mitzvah party!


___ I do not worry about being seen or treated as a member of the janitorial staff at a synagogue or when attending a Jewish event.


No, I don't. I would think that this would be more of an issue in a NON Jewish setting for a black person, actually. If a black is in a group of almost all whites, you stick out as "different" but I really can't imagine thinking that a black would be assumed to be the janitor...seriously, And sticking out as different doesn't imply that others are going to be having that difference tied to bigotry..I know I stuck out as different from the congregation when I have attended funerals at all black AME churches, or when I went to a black missionary Baptist church to see a friend's husband give his first sermon as a deacon. I do know the odd feeling of being the only person of my color in a group before. Yeah, there is a sense of ...how are these people looking at me?


My son’s favorite religious school teacher was once mistaken for a janitor ( he’s white) by a visitor at the synagogue.  He was highly offended, I made things worse by laughing.  What did his being mistaken for a janitor show? I don't know. 


___ I am never asked “how” I am Jewish at dating events or on Jewish dating websites.


 I  haven't ever used such a thing so I can't answer this question as asked.  But I have often been asked by non Jews if I am a convert, because they tell me “You don’t look like a Jew”.  And I’m white. So…some of these questions I’m really failing to see how they can be claimed as a support for “white privilege” in Judaism!  That the supposition is that all these questions will be answered in ways to support that every black Jew is marginalized with the ill treatment option is so disturbing to me because it goes against everything I was raised to believe IN Judaism.


Bigotry is antithetical to Torah and Judaism.


___ I can arrange to be in the company of Jews of my heritage most of the time.

This question would have all converts saying..no.  Their "heritage" before converting isn't that of the Jewish nation people.


This is perhaps a badly worded question because as a Jew, Jews all share a certain heritage..even the convert who has been adopted into the tribes and family..however if you’re speaking of specific ethnicity or modern notion of race..I suppose I could find  Jews of Eastern European and Sephardi ancestry easily here, but for the black Jew answering,


Since black Jews comprise less than 2 percent of the 6 million Jews scattered in this country where all jews are only 2 percent of the popu,ation I would imagine unless you live near many other Jews “of color” you’re not going to be able to guarantee that.


.


___ When attempting to join a synagogue or Jewish organization, I am confident that my ethnic background will not be held against me.


Every Jew can say this if the Jewish organization and synagogue is following Jewish law!


The only thing that would be held “ against” someone attempting to join a synagogue is if they aren’t Jewish according to law. Again, SKIN color has nothing to do with that.


___ I can ask synagogues and Jewish organizations to include images and cultural traditions from my background without being seen as a nuisance.


If the traditions are actual Jewish traditions. Why would it be a nuisance? Unless you’re trying to remove previous practices or traditions of a community and replace them..adding additional traditions that actually honor the same mitzvot are not “nuisance”. 


___ I can enroll in a Jewish day school, yeshiva, and historically Jewish college and find Jewish students and professors with my racial or ethnic background.





I have no idea, I don’t live close enough to see the faculty at any of those things.  I’m too isolated from a Jewish community large enough to support any of those things.  Again though, since black Jews are only about 2 percent of all Jews - there will be places you won't find any black Jews, not because of discrimination but because they are a minority of numbers of our nation people. 





___ People of color do not question why I am Jewish.

Oh yes, they have.
I have indeed had black people ask me if I am a “real Jew” since “real Jews” aren’t “blonde”  I have had several black school mates and co-workers ask me straight out if I was a “real Jew” or how I’m Jewish or why I am a Jew. 


___ I know my racial or ethnic background will not be held against me if I attempt to join a minyan in prayer.


You should know that bias against race or ethnicity should not be tolerated in Judaism. Every Jew knows that Jews have been multiracial since the time of the Torah!  Of course, since I’m female, I’ve never been asked to be counted in a minyan.


___ I know my ethnic background will not be held against me in being called to read the Torah.


All Jews should be able to say yes to this. Ditto to above answer. If it is, that synagogue is not honoring halacha.


___ I am not discriminated against in the aliyah process as a Jew of my particular ethnicity.


Ditto.


So I end this by repeating something I said early on.


If you believe that being black is being held against you in your Jewish community then your community needs to be called out and chastised and educated as they’re NOT living Jewishly.


Period.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More About Antisemitism And It's Reasons



Human nature being what it is, it is not difficult to demonize "the other".The doctrines chosen by the Church were intended to be a way to eliminate the Jewish people, it also helped to make sense of the various waves of antisemitism and persecution since then. It goes in cycles but the underlying justification for the past 2000 years plus..has been based on eliminating the Jew justified by their righteous belief that they are placating their deity ( by whatever name called).

The believers of the polytheistic religions of the ancient world were somewhat "used" to their political leaders telling them what gods were to be venerated during their rule and which deity their ruler was representative of in human form. Adding a new deity or giving a new name to an ancient deity whose belief was already established was not that big a deal for most of the Gentile population. Tanakh recorded that any time such a practice of a Jewish king telling the Jews that they were to worship a foreign deity...the entire Jewish people suffered, and most often at the very hands of the people whose deity they had left God to serve! That lesson is told right in our Jewish Bible, the same one the Christians have as an adaptation of their Old Testament, yet they rarely see this in the story because their New Testament also imposes topsy-turvy meaning to the context of the stories in so many places.
Christians did not want their flock to know the Paschal lamb represented a false man-god of Egypt, so they changed it into a sacrifice for sin to justify human sacrifice (or deicide depending on whether or not they are calling Jesus God in human form). Rather than his blood expiating sin, the blood on the door was an act of defiance showing the Egyptians that the life force (blood) representing their deity was spilled by the Hebrew slaves and their god was powerless over the God of Israel to do a thing about it. It was an act of rejection of the gods of Egypt and alliance to the God of Israel, and that’s in the Torah in Exodus in context. Rather than show that Isaiah was slamming a man for calling himself a man/god, Christian dogma personifies and makes a proper name for their Latin translations word for star and turns that story into something about a fall of angels (no where mentioned in that narrative at ALL) and justifies creating of the "name" Lucifer for a demi-god of the underworld Devil. (That isn’t in the Tanakh but fits the underworld described in Plato’s narrative recalling the ancient the Myth of Er) Every aspect of Jewish belief is given a new spin. Things that I once thought must have been fabricated outright I later discovered were beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This was the longstanding battle for souls going on; the Hellenized Jews, those who had become apostate to Judaism, desired to entice other Jews to worship as the Greeks that they believed superior in philosophy and knowledge, so they created texts that tried to say, see,this is what it was supposed to have been all along. However, reality was that those beliefs were identical to the beliefs and practices that the Torah demonized (Baal, Tammuz and Mithras worship and customs play most frequently)
Once one begins an in-depth study of the religious practices and beliefs of all the peoples surrounding the Jews in the centuries just preceding the beginning of Christianity, one can see these developments take place. It was a concerted effort to do away with Israel and Judaism. When Hadrian renamed Judea, Palestina, a Latinized version of the name of the Philistines, it was only done to insult the Jews. The Philistines had long since completely assimilated into the surrounding peoples, and the only vestiges of those ancient Agean seafaring people were artifacts and place names by the year 135 when Hadrian changed the name of Judea. The Philistines were not only the ancient enemies of the Jews, but the Jewish people had demonized their practices and deities to the extent that the name of their primary deity became the name of a type of demon. Beelzebub is a name now associated with evil or the Christian devil..but it had it's origina as the Philistines' "Lord of the Flies".
Do you think that Christians would be focused on Jews at all if their doctrine was not created to replace and do away with the Jewish people?If you are indoctrinated to believe that the eternal covenant was replaced by a covenant of belief in a Jew as a deity, you then begin to see the people who hold to the Torah precept that God condemns the very notion of men as deities as blasphemy against your deity.If you are indoctrinated to believe that Jews are blinded to your god and that the eternal covenant of Israel has been superseded by a different covenant your perspective is one of the Jew as "the other". If you believe Jews refuse to follow the way of God from that perspective and therefore deserve punishment because of that, you can easily justify any behavior done to Jews.

It is that sort of thinking that fueled the Holocaust. It is that sort of thinking by people in your own communities now that show that Germany was no different than small-town America. Jews everyone are living alongside people who believe that we should suffer torture and death because we do not abandon our God for what they offer.
Or at the very least, turn your back in apathy when others do so , saying to yourself that, if only they had believed in Jesus, this wouldn‘t have happened to them. History has shown this time and again. Personal encounters with Christians who tell me they love me to try to convince me to abandon my faith for theirs and then turn vicious with insult when I politely decline reveal this, too. Religious Jews believe that abandoning the faith of God through the eternal Torah, the relationship that is believed to have kept Israel alive through all such previous attempts, would be worse than anything that anyone could do OR HAS done to Jews.
I believe that there is sincerity in the heart of many Christians when they claim that they try to convert us out of love and concern for our souls, but it is a misguided love at best. If you love someone, you would not ask them to abandon the very thing that makes them who they are and the thing most dear to them, and my faith in God is most dear to me. The path of Judaism is such a part of me that I will never abandon it.
When we refuse to recognize their "truths" and abandon Judaism to embrace their replacement theology, history has shown that this love often allows many Christians to act out in hatred or turn a blind eye to others who do because of a belief that is repeated from church pulpits, "Jews deserve to be punished for rejecting Jesus and only when they come to embrace him will their suffering end." Not only have I heard this sentiment come straight from the mouths of Christian clergy in person and on television, I’ve read this virtually hundreds of times from people who professed their Christian belief all over Yahoo in the past 10 years. If you think this is not a socially acceptable attitude among a significant number of Christians, one has only to look at the enormous success of the "Left Behind" series and their horrid video game that has children at their TV sets, torturing the Jews and Muslims and other "non-believers" who were not taken up in their "rapture".
Jewish philosopherm, Emil Fackenheim, who spoke several years ago at the West End Synagogue, put it this way. "The Holocaust was the culmination of a 2,000-year campaign by the Christian world against the Jews. It began early on with them telling us, `You cannot live here as Jews.' And in country after country, they forced us to convert. Later the message became, `You cannot live here.' And in country after country, they forced us to leave. Hitler's message was, `You cannot live.' And they exterminated one-third of our people." Christianity was a rallying cry to justify what the Nazis were doing in Europe. Every soldier wore a belt buckle emblazoned with "God is with us" in German. To deny this abuse and perversion of the "Great Commission" is to deny the darkest chapter in Christianity’s history. I bring this up not to condemn Christianity, but to condemn using ANY religion’s tenets to justify demonizing "the other" and declare that any other people deserve eternal torture and punishment. And my HOPE is that by TEACHING YOUR Christian children how your religion was so HIJACKED in the past in Nazi controlled Europe, that you may better guard against the possibility of it ever happening again.
Right now in the world I see fundamentalist Islam using the self-same methods to entice their followers to believe in the rigtheousness of the violence they perpetrate on civilians.
My spirit soars in hope for humanity when I see Christians working together to speak out against those of their own fold who try to justify intolerance and bigotry with their religion.
When Christian groups form to combat the Wesboro Baptist Church fringe element, or when Christian groups speak out against the white supremacist Christian Identity movement, that speaks of a path of righteousness. When Christians promote the "Left Behind" series and encourage children at public schools to read them, promote an agenda of divisivness that all who don’t worship Jesus are of the devil and deserving of punishment, that tells this Jew, they are the kind of Christian that would have been easily swayed by the message of the "positive Christianity" of Nazi party. It was largely Christians who were their downfall, but make no mistake, it was largely a Christian fervor that allowed that atrocity to happen in the first place.May a narrow fundamentalist belief that others deserve torture or punishment NEVER again take hold in the world as it did in my parents generation. Already I’m witnessing Jew hate increasing to a degree I never hoped to see in my life and I’m witnessing people justify suffering in Israel once again, because of a "refusal to accept Jesus".
It was "godlessness" of the Communists that were the greatest political enemies of the Nazis and they focused on that by presenting themselves as the "positive Christian" alternative. They had the support of both Catholic and Protestant leaders and across Europe, where they took over areas formerly occupied by the Communists they were hailed as being sent by God to restore God to their communities. I ALSO recognize that it was LARGELY CHRISTIANS who were Hitler's DOWNFALL and I thank God for that! I do not intend to demonize Christianity in this answer..I intend to look at the harsh reality of what happened so that by examining it..people can RECOGNIZE when any leader tries to use ANY religion to incite hatreds and injustice to any group.
While there were Christian religious protests and movements against the Nazi party, it did not represent the majority opinion and they had often been former supporters who came to a realization too late of what atrocities they actually enabled. As one pastor's life gives witness: On 5th June 1945 pastor Martin Niemöller gave a press conference in Naples. He admitted that he had offered to join the German Navy in 1939. He also confessed that he had "never quarrelled with Hitler over political matters, but purely on religious grounds". This resulted in a savage attack on Niemöller from those newspapers that had presented him as a symbol of resistance to Hitler's government. In 1946 Niemöller wrote a poems that illustrated the role that the Church played in the development of Nazi Germany:First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Now back to my own words. The presence of the Jews in the world and that of the eternal covenant still before their presence attests to the futility of a claim I've seen repeated quite often in Y/A, that it was "nailed to the cross". From ancient times until the present, every attempt to obliterate the eternal covenant and the people of the covenant has failed. It shall continue to fail. If nothing else is believed from the Tanakh, that message is crystal clear thousands of years after the beginning of this covenant, when Tanakh states until heaven and earth and the sun and stars pass away, that’s what it meant. Each time Israel strayed from the covenant for adoption of foreign beliefs, turned their heads when wicked kings were perverting Torah, bad things happened to the Jewish people, often at the hands of people who were supporting the very causes and beliefs that Jews had forsaken Torah to take up. This has been a clear message to those of Israel who have read Torah in each generation.
The Tanakh represents God as the Creator of all humanity and every human can connect directly to God without need for mediator, and in fact, explicitly forbids praying to or through anything on earth or in heaven before God. The righteous of all nations merit blessing and a place in the world to come. The Christian notion is that unless one believes in a particular manner and prays to or through Jesus, they merit eternal torture in a fiery underworld hell "ruled" by a demi-god of that underworld, the devil.The terms of the covenant between God and Israel mean that in every generation, this does not change. Jews have often been demonized and persecuted because as a people, we do not and shall not ever bow to or pray through any man/god deity. That fact is not going to change. You would think that nearly after the covenant people saying this to the world for 5000 years they would get it. Prophecy in the Tanakh tells us that one day the world will get it and everyone will recognize each other as brethren and all know God. The state of the world and the existence of missionaries are a de-facto admission that the Messianic age has not arrived. No one will need a sales pitch to know when it happens. Jews aren’t awaiting anyone like Jesus since the eternal covenant and the prophetic vision of the Davidic Messiah are as different between the two religions as the very nature of God is. Right now, humanity is living as a dysfunctional family that doesn’t yet recognize that we are all family, even those who don’t want the Jewish part of their family to be around. We’re not going away so you might as well get used to it.
The importance of acknowledging that passages in the New Testament exist that demonize Jews for being of the Jewish faith is really is not as much about concern of angering the Jews, but MORE so about what has been done and said to Jews in every generation since those texts appeared. While it is upsetting to see Jewish belief demonized in a book supposed to be holy, the critical thing to recognize is that those passages have been used and continue to be used to Jews to justify antisemitism.

Ever since the first appearance of the New Testament, Jews have been persecuted with violence in waves every few decades or so, by groups of fundamentalist believers who use these passages to justify that they are doing God's will.From the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the Blood Libel charges, to the ghettos of Italy, to the Black Plague charges, to acts of violence inspired by Martin Luther's On Jews and Their Lies, to the Pogroms to the Shoah, those passages were used. My own Great Grandfather Rabbi Yoshpe was beaten by a mob led by priest. They had just left Easter services, and then the angry mob drug him to his doorstep and beat him to death in front of wife and children because he was a Rabbi. This was several decades before the Nazis arrived on the scene. Is there any doubt their acts were not fueled by the charges that Jews killed their savior?

In addition, do not forget the hundreds of speeches of Adolph Hitler who peppered them with references to the New Testament. He used them to great effect to justify the antisemitism and his "Final Solution" among a German populace who believed themselves to be God fearing Christians. He was enormously popular because he spoke against his greatest political enemies he characterized as Godless Communists. While those Communists in Russia had also victimized Jews, the German Propaganda was that they were allied with the Communists to destroy Christianity!

I will only post a couple of the hundreds of speeches I have read with similar reference to Christianity in Hitler's speeches: "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... "And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."
Adolf Hitler, in his speech on April 12,1922 [Note, "brood of vipers" appears in Matt. 3:7 & 12:34. John 2:15 depicts Jesus driving out the money changers (adders) from the temple.]
Hitler addressed the world at the passion plays of Oberammergau in 1942
He said: "his blood be on us and our children... [Matt 27:25], maybeI’m the one who must execute this curse... I do no more than joinwhat has been done for more than 1,500 years already. Maybe I renderChristianity the best service ever!" (Adolph Hitler)
Lastly, take some time to research the q's and a's asked of Jews in Yahoo Answers and you will often see antimerism directed to Jews often using those same passages.

In Yahoo Answers we have people even trying to turn commandments forbidding the leaving of Torah as a topsy turvy justification for condemning us because we have not! Take this one example of many:
"The NT clarifies that all true believers are now considered God's chosen people: this includes Messianic Jews and gentile Christians. Since unbelieving Jews have refused to accept the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-36) brought by Jesus (Matt. 26:26-28), they are condemned by God (Deut. 28) and are no longer considered "chosen." (In fact, Deut. 28:62-63 explains why God permitted the Holocaust: because the Jewish people have disobeyed Him by refusing their Messiah.)"
Thankfully, when that comment was made, both Jew and many Gentiles present loudly condemned that attempt to justify one of the worst atrocities of humanity as rabidly antisemitic. The scary thing is there were also others, believing themselves to be God-fearing and decent, who support that view. And still, people ask HOW could the Germans have allowed it.
Yahoo Answers is a good place to learn how.
THAT's why Jews see Jew hate in the New Testament..because Christians in large numbers HAVE seen it and ACTED on it repeatedly and they still quote us those passages today. You may also better learn what it is Jews really believe from a Biblical context by navigating through http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/
I'm not here to demonize Christians or the faith Christians have thorugh their new covenant of the Christian Bible. Judaism doesn't teach a thing about Christian dogma; it is simply insignificant to the eternal covenant of faith of Israel. It isn't a part of Jewish teaching at all..any more than the Quran is to a Christian.
Christianity appears to require justifying it's beliefs by negating and turning Judaism topsy-turvy. Judaism is a complete and fulfilling faith without Christianity. I cannot see the opposite to be the case since the first 2/3 of Christianity's holy scriptures are an ADAPTATION of the Tanakh.Countless times, those who have ACTED on Jew hate have justified and given reason for their actions of Jew hate on those passages. It is not for me to decide their reasons FOR them.
I am thankful that a majority of Christians do NOT take those passages at face value and use them in that manner. I am thankful to know and connect to many Christians who do not do this. I pray that more Christians will become aware of how those passages have been used for 2000 so that such abuses stop. It is important to recognize that for any belief system, not just Christianity, religious fundamentalism can be used to incite people to do uncivilized things in a civilized nation. The Christian majority populace in Europe who gave him massive popular support did so because they believed they were also serving the interests of THEIR faith. If millions can be brainwashed by such things, we need to KNOW HOW it happened! Denial that he used Christianity is so dangerous in my view. Denial that people are using Christian doctrine today to create and spread antisemitism is dangerous, too.

For any Christians reading this, it is my sincere hope that now that you've become aware of the history and the antisemitism that exists in the New Testament that you will help to dispel the hate through your own individual actions and then help to inspire others.

http://www.messiahtruth.com/anti.html <>

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is that REALLY why there is Jew hate?


This is another essay that first appeared on my Yahoo360 page on March 21, 2006. I repost it here in response to a question I answered today in Yahoo Answers, once again seeing people who don't appear to believe they're harboring any antisemitism, USING some canards of the antisemite to try to explain why Jews are hated.


One of them was that Jews keep to themselves with our strange customs...well that only describes a very small percentage of Jews if you're talking about a somewhat cloistered environment, and the worst antisemitism the world has known happened to the MOST assimilated group of Jews in the world first..in Germany. Now here is the essay as it appeared there, addressing other forms of stereotype and bigotry that some don't recognize as such and perhaps why:


Every time I think I’ve heard all the excuses or stories to justify Jew hate, I’m amazed all over again. Despite years of study of trying to figure out why there is bigotry in the world particularly Jew hate and hate against blacks, the two forms I’ve seen first hand the closest, I’m coming across new versions of propaganda daily. These two types of stories may not be new to you, but they were to me. They also show me how our human nature is so easily led to believe tales that can seen quite plausible at first glance and help bigotry to grow when the tales are passed along from people who aren’t intentionally promoting prejudice.
First, the story that inspired me to pen this today: It came from someone that I view as intelligent and not one prone to promotion of bigotry or hate, yet his telling of this helps to clearly show how bias can grow from mistaken notions and even become accepted by people who do not like bigotry! He made mention that the Germans hated the Jews of Germany not so much because of religious differences but because during the Depression the Jews were much better off than the gentile Germans and would not “ share” their wealth as Germans. They were indifferent to the poor gentiles and only took care of their own.. Now, in his assuming that this was true to begin with, that the gentiles of Germany were all poor and the vast majority of Jews were all very wealthy and that the hate was from jealousy and from the greed of the wealthy Jew, he fell prey to many false stereotypes; so many that I was even hesitant in the conversation to start listing all the problems wrong with that assumption. Instead, I made mention rather feebly of the fact that the vast majority of the Jews of Germany suffered equally in the failing economy of Europe. I was rather dumbfounded at seeing these words from someone I thought educated and someone who did not believe he harbored an antisemitic bone in his body.
Here I shall try to address a few other misconceptions, just in case there are other people out there who think similarly. While there WERE wealthy Jews in Germany, there were statistically still far greater number of wealthy Gentiles, who were far less philanthropic toward their fellow Germans. Don’t take my word on this. I’m not going to provide various historic resources in this essay because it’s primarily based on my memory of things I’ve read over many years, in books, magazines, and on the internet. I’m sure it would not be difficult to ascertain the statistics from a reputable site on the percentages of various groups and their economic status. Then as now, the greatest wealth in the world is not in the hands of the Jews despite the propaganda. The Jews of Germany were in fact, quite philanthropic to their nation in the years before Hitler took power, this despite the fact that Germany’s wealthy Jews had already been supporting attempts to save hundreds of thousands of very poor Eastern European Jews from the many pogroms that had been raging for already 40 years. Yes, many of the wealthy Jewish Germans did only concentrate on helping Jews and saving Jews and purchasing land in Eretz Yisrael starting in the 1880s, because NO ONE ELSE WOULD LIFT A FINGER to stop the hatred and very real persecution that led to the Holocaust.
Because of the dire straits of the Jewish populace in Europe in the 19th century and early 20th century, German Jewish business owners were often chastised at the time in Jewish newspapers both in Europe and the U.S. for donating more to non-Jewish charities than Jewish charities. Those were the German Jews and the American Jews who had assimilated the most and who were accused of identifying themselves much more with their German nationalism or their American nationalism than with their Jewishness. In the years before the Holocaust it was not uncommon for the more assimilated German Jew to place some of the blame the hatred their Jewish brethren were experiencing on their unwillingness to become more “ modern". It was also hard for the non-Jew to realize that one could be both for one’s own smaller group AND for the larger group as a whole. Even their charity toward non-Jew was often seen as an attempt to “ Judaize” the populace. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and could not appease either group. Often when Jewish groups would seek donations for charity and aid for Jews, the wealthy assimilated Jew responded to say that they felt that it was more important to care for the community as a whole rather than just the Jews. They wanted to show the rest of the Germans that they were true Germans like everyone else. After all many of them had roots going back centuries there, too. And Tikkun Olam or Repair of the World doesn’t mean just the Jewish community, and this is what they claimed to be honoring.
Judaism stresses deed over creed and that was a time when no one else would aid Jewish poor other than Jews. Therefore, I cannot fault the wealthy German Jew for first aiding their own. Nor can I see that their so doing even if it were true that most would only aid their own would have implied they were being cruel to the poor gentile or taking away from them unscrupulously. There were many more gentile wealthy and elite who took from both Jew and gentile than greedy Jew, by sheer numbers alone. I don’t justify greed here at all; I’m trying to show that the accusation is yet another way to justify hate. Many Jews were trying unsuccessfully to help their own in a time of growing hate and persecution. The Nazis didn’t create Jew hate and the Depression didn’t either. It had been growing for centuries. Jews were fleeing Europe in the 1800s in massive numbers. This is why all ship's manifests coming from Europe had special quotas to limit Jews specifically, and they kept track by designating them as “ Hebrew”. Go check for yourself at Ellis Island.org on any ships manifest from those days with immigrants from Eastern Europe. Non-Jews did not have their religious status designated.
The Depression allowed for the wealthy Jew to be put in a position where no matter what he did, he could not justify his existence in the mind of the antisemite. In trying to lend a hand to give to non-Jewish poor, he was accused of Judaizing and propagandizing to undermine Germany. If he chose to only help his fellow Jew, he was accused of being against gentiles! Another thing not taken into consideration in accepting the notion that wealthy German Jewish behavior was provoking a backlash to greed ignores that in the Depression, many poor German Jewish families and poor Jews from all over Eastern Europe were sometimes kept alive through harsh factory work and Jewish mother wet-nurses to gentile babies from wealthy Christian European families.
This leads to another episode of my running into a seemingly intelligent person who presented me with an absurd notion of Jewish culture and history. History has become so perverse as of late, that upon hearing a woman here in Arkansas try to claim that Jewish women all over Europe and particularly in Germany wouldn’t nurse their own babies and so they farmed them out to poor gentiles rather than be bothered and they didn’t care about their own babies, the other women present didn't even raise an eyebrow. She gave me this bit of “information” when I was discussing breast-feeding with some mutual acquaintances and she overheard me to say I’d nursed my child until he was 2 years old. She expressed shock and said to me that I couldn’t possibly really be Jewish or must have learned that from the non-Jews I lived with here as she never knew Jewish mothers breastfed, and exclaimed, “ None that I’ve EVER heard of did so, especially in my mother’s generation, they think it’s beneath them!” I asked her how many Jewish mothers she knew and she fell silent. I was astounded at this absurd and false tale, an almost opposite portrayal from what I knew to have really happened. I once spoke with a non-Jewish woman of Jewish ancestry at a breastfeeding support group years ago and she told of her grandparents escape from Nazi Europe. She said her mother as a baby shared her grandmother’s breast with the child of a German gentile who grew up to serve in Hitler’s army. She bitterly said that she wished Jewish mothers had not nursed those babies to grow healthy and strong to later persecute and try to kill her grandmother and her children. How ironic that a number of the anti- semites who placed Jews in camps were once suckling at the breast of a Jew! Perhaps this thought enraged them so much that now the story is twisted to make the European Jewish mother image into a cold and uncaring woman. How this contrasts with the other stereotype of the Jewish mother who is overly concerned with every aspect of the life of her children. They can’t seem to make up their mind about what kind of bad mothers Jewish women are, can they? My Jewish grandmother breastfed my father and all his 8 siblings until they were toddler age. That was the common thing to do at that time. My maternal Jewish grandmother did not breastfeed but not because she didn’t desire to do so. My Jewish mother breastfed me and my brother In fact, with my own extended family, it is the Jewish babies who were almost exclusively the one’s who were breastfed rather than the babies born to the mothers who either converted to Christianity or who were Christians who married the Jewish men in the family. I never even bothered to think about such differences until I was presented with such an absurd bigoted statement. I’ve never polled or done studies to see if breast feeding had any corelation to religion, but I knew that such a claim that Jewish women did not breastfeed was utterly absurd.
Observant Jewish mothers would never have allowed their babies to be nursed by women who did not eat a kosher diet. In communities where Jew and gentile lived side by side, I am sure it was not an uncommon thing for a Christian woman to wet-nurse a Jewish child. However, this incensed the Church; Pope Gregory XIII in 1581 in his list of conditions that he commanded a Jew must be submitted to the Inquisition included the act of having a wet-nurse empty their milk after having taken the Eucharist. (Like it should be a surprise that a Jewish mom wouldn’t want her baby eating the body and blood of Jesus, even if only symbolically?)
All over Europe with Jew and gentile alike, the wealthier, cosmopolitan European woman did not breast feed their own child. Royalty for centuries did not breastfeed their own. This was not a Jewish invention. I do not doubt that many of the wealthier secular Jewish German women who were trying to assimilate to fit in with the upper classes adopted the practices of their social peers and had someone else breast feed their child rather than ruin their figure, but even in that instance I cannot imagine that the job would be preferentially given to a gentile woman (I wonder if this too will be made into discrimination against the gentile to justify their hate, eh?) The kosher diet, which was seen as “ cleaner” than the diets of many very poor gentiles was also why the poor Jewish wet-nurse was so highly sought out over the poor gentile wet nurse among the wealthy cosmopolitan European woman who at that time was being taught that such a thing was left to what they sometimes called the “ vulgar masses”. And the poor wet nurse was more often than not from a religious or Orthodox family. . My very own grandmother was one such Jewish wet nurse but not in Germany, in Slonim, Poland for a time. This had been an established practice long before the Great Depression. My grandmother luckily was able to leave in 1920. I have a brief story about that in another essay.
I don't tell this narrative to point out that Jewish wet nurses were somehow superior or more caring. I have no reason to assume they were much different than any other poor mother who had to supplement her family’s meager means by giving nourishment of her own body and sometimes taking away from literally the mouth of her own flesh and blood. The poor wet nurse if she was not getting adequate nutrition and fluids risked not having enough milk for her own offspring as the child she was being paid to nurse had to come first. And not every woman, Jew or gentile, who wet nursed another's child was poor and did it for money but fed the child of another who could not do so, simply because they were doing what had to be done to ensure the life of a fellow human.
I bring up these stories to illustrate that in trying to justify hatred, often quite absurd notions are used and with enough time and telling, start to become viewed by intelligent people as plausible. This is human nature. I’m sure there are things I’ve been told about aspects of other cultures that have been quite mistaken, in fact, since I’ve met some traditional Native American Indians, I know it for a fact. But I do try to educate myself and try to use a bit of reasoning to see if what is being said to me is congruent with the larger picture.
In the instance of both these stories, the wealthy German Jewish greed as the justification for Jew hate there, and the Jewish woman who was cold and farmed out her babies for the gentile poor to nurse at horrible wages and nearly starving their own child does not fit at all with the known customs or accepted cultural norms, let alone the many personal histories of the Jews who survived that time. They’re simply excuses to be used to deflect accountability and obfuscate the more deep-seated reasons that have been passed down for generations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Question of Identity



Because there are groups and individuals who wish to purposely misrepresent Jewish identity and confuse others for agendas of either bigotry, identity theft or both, there remains much confusion among many when that is really unnecessary.
Jews are a nation people, Israel (tribal origin) bound by an eternal covenant of the faith (religion) of Judaism. We are like a huge family and only the family through our laws can determine who is a member of it. It is the laws of Judaism, given to the covenant nation, Israel, in the Torah, that determine Jewish identity. It is not a matter of “blood” but of self-determination through the laws of the Jewish people. I know that sounds repetitive but I repeated that because that appears hard for some to grasp.
People related to one another share genetic markers. Jews began as a family, then as a small group of tribes and has remained tribal in nature. However, Jews are NOT considered a race. Jews are not *an* ethnicity. There is simply NO single Jewish ethnicity. Neither ethnicity or race define Jewish identity. I repeat, it is Jewish law that defines Jewish identity.
We are Klal Yisrael, the community of Israel. . **MANY** different and distinctly Jewish cultures and ethnicities have developed over the millennia in Diaspora lands. The Diaspora refers to the Jewish presence outside of Israel after the destruction of the First and Second Temple periods and the Bar Kochba revolt.
There are many ethnicities that are distinctly Jewish. There are the Mizrahi (from the Middle East and North Africa).The Sephardi (Spanish) and the Ashkenazi, (German, Polish, Russian and other Eastern European), the Beta Yisrael of Ethiopia, and the Cochin of India and others, that are different as to cultural practices and foods, but it is the faith and covenant that binds them all together as Klal Yisrael.
The Jewish people are considered both a nation and a religion. Our connection is primarily one of faith (religion) through the covenant of Israel, yet membership is also conferred by birth, through matrilineal descent. One may also become a part of the nation Israel by adoption of the faith of Judaism and formal procedures of conversion.
One who converts to Judaism is considered as FULLY Jewish as one born Jewish and their children are Jews. This has been the case since the times of the Torah.
However, one may technically be a Jew if their mother is a Jew, but apostate to the covenant of Israel and no longer considered a member of the nation if they leave it for the covenant of faith of another religion.

The Jewish nation began as a group of tribes and our connection to one another is still from the perspective of a tribal nation. (example: as the Lakota nation has tribal procedure and law to determine who is a member of their tribe, who is not, who is expelled and who is adopted, so does Judaism)
One born a member of the tribal covenant nation Israel (Jewish) may not be observant or even believe in God and they’re still a full member, a Jew. They may not be a good member or an active member but they’ve not renounced membership by following something ELSE instead of Judaism. An atheist or a secular Jew is not trying to call something ELSE Judaism. That is how one may be an "atheist Jew". Not believing that there is such a thing as deity, any deity is not following a false deity. An atheist Jew may live Jewish ethics and identify with their people, but they did not take on foreign beliefs contradictory to the monotheism of Torah. An atheist may not convert *to* Judaism to become a member of the tribe because an affirmation of faith in the God of Israel is required to JOIN.
Now if one born into the covenant becomes apostate through rejection of the covenant by adoption of another belief contradictory to the covenant, they are still be considered a Jew, but for all intents and purposes, they're not given the status of a member. According to Jewish law they're not counted in a minyan,( the minimum number of adults required for certain prayers and other mitzvot), they can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery, they cannot be given honors to go up to read Torah at a synagogue, and they may not be allowed to speak for the Jewish people. They CAN however, return without formal conversion should they repent of their idolatrous or foreign god worship and then be embraced again as full members. One who has left the Jewish people for the foreign faith of another people must undergo the steps of TESHUVAH , which means repentance and return to the God of Israel. Some groups may require that the individual also requires immersion in the mikveh before being accepted back, but they do not require the formal steps of conversion should the person wish to return.
Jews are in NO way a RACE..other than as members of the human race. For those of you who want to claim Judaism doesn't accept converts as fully Jewish, how about Ruth in the Bible? She was a member of the Moabite nation that was condemned to be separate from God for their evil. However, she was a righteous woman who converted and adopted the faith of Israel and was the ancestor of King David. The New Testament depicts her as being an ancestor of Jesus, too. I like to bring this up when some Christians want to declare that converts aren't "real Jews" or that Jews are a race. It is Jewish law alone, not Christianity or any other entity that determines the status of who and what is Jewish.
When a Jew adopts a belief that is in conflict with the Jewish religion, the belief does NOT become a " Jewish belief" just because a Jew chooses to believe in it. THAT is the conflict Jews have with the Christians who call themselves Jews if they deceptively try to present their Christian belief AS Judaism. A Jew who converts to Hare Krishna is just as apostate, but there exists no Jews for Hare Krishna or Hare Krishna Judaism evangelical groups spending millions of dollars a year in campaigns to convert secular Jews by convincing them it is a form of Judaism.
You can become a member of a tribe or nation if you meet the criteria of citizenship. And the covenant people, Klal Yisrael, remain as in the earliest days of the covenant..a nation. It hasn't changed.
Reform Judaism (of which I am a member) will consider as Jewish one whose father is a Jew IF the child was RAISED in Judaism actively and exclusively. Even in Reform Judaism, simply having a Jewish father without exclusively Jewish upbringing, would require conversion on the part of the person with only a Jewish father to become a Jew. Reform Judaism also recognizes that only Orthodox conversion is considered acceptable to all branches.
It is against Jewish law for any Jew to discriminate against a convert to Judaism. Since the time of the Torah converts have been accepted as fully Jewish, and this is the case in all branches. We are not even supposed to refer to the fact that they are converts! It is up to them if they wish to identify themselves as such. They are Jews, period.
The covenant people, Israel have been MULTIRACIAL since the days of Torah, Moses' wife, Zipporah was a black woman. There have been Ethiopian Beta Yisrael since the days of Solomon! And I repeat, one cannot convert to a race. One may convert and become fully Jewish.
The Jewish Bible ( Tanakh ) tells from the beginning book to the end that the righteous of all nations ( Jew or Gentile ) have the capacity to connect directly to God, merit blessing and a place in the world to come. Every human is equal before God according to the Jewish religion. Atonement is directly from God. Shalom

http://geography.about.com/cs/politicalgeog/a/statenation.htm
definitions of nation, country, state. Torah calls us the covenant NATION many times.
http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm
http://www.beingjewish.com/identity/race.html
http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/
This is always a good place for comparative study, too.
http://www.jewish-languages.org/ This is a link to a source that is a scholarly study of the development of Jewish languages. It will help you if you are interested in studying the different Jewish cultures and ethnicities..note PLURAL