Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Judaism ( No Answer,   15 Comments )
Subject: Judaism
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: anneinedu-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 01 Dec 2005 07:28 PST
Expires: 31 Dec 2005 07:28 PST
Question ID: 600009
Is Judaism a religion or race?

Clarification of Question by anneinedu-ga on 01 Dec 2005 07:31 PST
Is Judaism a religion or race?

Im doing a paper on that debate.
If possible, give me references.

Clarification of Question by anneinedu-ga on 01 Dec 2005 10:25 PST
Another way to state the question is:

Judaism is definately a religion but is it also a race?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Judaism
From: research_help-ga on 01 Dec 2005 08:33 PST
Judaism is a religion. Since that is a fact, I'm not sure what
"debate" you are going to write your paper about.  Jewish people
around the world have some cultural similarities with each other, but
a Caucasian Jew, African American Jew, and Hispanic Jew are all
different races, but have the same religion.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: politicalguru-ga on 01 Dec 2005 08:55 PST
See several answers that can help:

 Judaism as ethnicity

Subject: Re: Judaism
From: anneinedu-ga on 01 Dec 2005 11:36 PST
The 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, which indicated that more
people identified themselves as "cultural" than as "religious"
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: frde-ga on 02 Dec 2005 05:55 PST
<Q>Judaism is definately a religion but is it also a race?</Q>

Go to Israel and look at the different racial types
- the variation is extraordinary
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: research_help-ga on 02 Dec 2005 06:50 PST
No offense to you personally, but the position that Judaism is a race
is an opinion of ignorance.  Whether this ignorance stems from lack of
understanding or if it stems from anti semitism is another question.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: geof-ga on 02 Dec 2005 08:14 PST
This question is by no means based on ignorance; and in case there's
any misunderstanding, I am a jew - though I would stress one who has
relinquished his religion. If Judaism is simply a religion, how come
that anti-semitism is not directed solely at religious jews, but
usually at everyone who was born jewish, has a jewish name, looks like
a jew etc etc. People - both non-jews and jews - tend to be interested
in whether someone famous (say a film actor or sportsperson) is
jewish, whereas on the whole they are not interested in whether
someone is catholic, protestant or evangelical.

In the UK, in recognition of the difference between anti-semitism and
discrimination based solely on religion (eg by protestants against
catholics), anti-semitism is covered by race discrimination
legislation, whereas solely religious discrimination is NOT so

Of course jews are not a single "race", but then again are all African
Americans a single race, or all people of, say, Chinese or Asian
Indian appearance? But definitely jews form an ethnic group, not
simply a religious group.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: myoarin-ga on 02 Dec 2005 09:59 PST
Very interesting points; also the survey that Anneinedu mentions: 
that more Jews identify theselves as "cultural".
Jews have the immense problem that outside of Israel they are a
minority, practicing (or not) their faith in the diaspora.  The
dominant community around them defines and deliniates the difference,
tending to force them to stick closer together.  (This happens with
other religious minorities.)
It is hard to stop being a Jew, to convert:  the dominant community
doesn't forget, as Jews in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries
experienced, and those in Germany and the rest of Europe did under the
Nazis.  Judaism is a religion, but the local dominant community
projects its impression that it is a race, supported perhaps by
recognizable genetic differences.
Let's face it, most of us think we can recognize someone as a Jew
(sorry, someone of Jewish descent): maybe correctly, but certainly we
are not able to identify many who are Jews who don't fit the
stereotype.  But then we latch onto the name, and there are typically
Jewish surnames. (I have one that can be mistaken as such and have
heard the discrete questions.)
That all leads to the dominant community's implying and projecting a
racial identity.
Conversion to Judaism is possible, but not common:  who wants to join
the minority and leave the dominant community?  But the sites on
conversion to Judaism may provide some information to the question:

The last site is a bit contrary to the preceding ones, perhaps less
official, perhaps more "orthodox".  Interestingly, it relates the word
"Goy" for a non-Jew to the Hebrew word for nation and says that the
Goy is of "other nations, that is, nations other than the Children of
Israel."  This implies that Jews are a "nation", a group related by
birth (Latin "natus"), which in suggests a racial identity.

But maybe I am reading too much into that.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: brosenberg-ga on 04 Dec 2005 14:24 PST
I dont think Judaism is a race but, many people who are Jewish are of
a certain culture. Just like most Hindus are Indian.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: michel123-ga on 05 Dec 2005 16:12 PST
Scientific evidence of common genetical jews origins

supported by "Nature Genetics" article (Sept. 2001)
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: ravuri-ga on 12 Dec 2005 05:23 PST
Rabbi Marc Gellman wrote the following in a symposium of Commentary
Magazine in August 1996:

Religions are open or tribal. You can join an open faith
(Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism) by affirming its beliefs. You can
join a tribal faith (Hinduism, Native American religions) only by
being born into the tribe. Judaism is the only religion in the world
that is both tribal and open. One is Jewish by birth, and yet one can
convert to Judaism by affirming its beliefs and committing oneself to
the practices that flow from those beliefs. The chosenness of the
Jewish people has enabled the tribal and open elements of our faith to
exist over time in a number of dialectical tensions: we believe that
we are a people apart, and yet we believe that we are a light to all
the nations. We accept those without belief as full Jews, and yet we
created monotheism. The open elements of our faith keep us (I pray)
from becoming racist xenophobes, while the tribal elements of our
faith keep us from becoming rootless cosmopolitans.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: hummiz-ga on 13 Dec 2005 23:52 PST
The best answer I can give you,is that :"the beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

To probably any rational human today,Judaism is a religion.
but an anti semitism people claim that it's a race,and im not gonna
give you the "simptoms" of how a jew look according to the nazis
(which by the way were proven as wrong theories).

so I guess that depens whom you're asking the question...
but as others already said - its a religion,since as an israeli jew,I
can tell you that there're pretty much variety of people in here :
black,white,hispanic,parsian,iraqian,european  etc,..

so here you go :)
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: yoske-ga on 15 Dec 2005 07:56 PST
interesting points from all, but you're leaving out one very important factor:

The torah views the Jews as a nation and NOT as a religion.

No offense guys, but my money's on God.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Dec 2005 09:11 PST
Of course, when the Torah was written, it was speaking about a
"nation" (birth related) of the Jews, the 12 tribes.  But "Judaism" is
the religious culture of those born as Jews or those who convert to
Judaism.  That was the question.

It could be a different question to ask if all persons who believe in
Judaism are "Jews" or should be called Jews, since traditionally such
persons should have been born of a Jewish mother.  But we do  - verbal
shorthand, perhaps not precise, but many other common usages are not
(see the thread about US citizens' calling themselves Americans).

As to Judaism being a "race":  
(a very difficult word, here one definition:
"A race is a distinct population of humans distinguished in some way
from other humans. The most widely observed races are those based on
skin color, facial features, ancestry, and genetics. Conceptions of
race, as well as specific racial groupings, are often controversial
due to their impact on social identity hence identity politics" 

Judaism is not a race, and nor are Jews, though some physical
characteristics are considered to be Jewish, and may be indicative in
some parts of the world, but not in the Middle East where Muslims and
Christians and ... may all look alike.  Indeed, in Israel, a resident
who does not fit the stereotype is most likely to be a Jew  - well,
better, a member of the Jewish faith.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: frde-ga on 16 Dec 2005 03:31 PST
Fair point, but we British did some sterling work at miscegenation out
in Palestine - one can see Arabs in Jerusalem that don't look at all

Just to muddy the waters, I reckon that there is a pretty big divide
growing between Jewish Israelis and Jewish non-Israelis, for a start
the language, but there is also a 'cultural thing'.
Subject: Re: Judaism
From: nicejewishgirl101-ga on 24 Jan 2006 20:18 PST
Judaism is both a religion & an ethnicity (meaning religious, racial,
national, language, historical/political background, etc; Jewish
religion, Semitic race, Israeli/MidEast nation, Hebrew/Yiddish/Ladino
etc Language, & full of histories of antisemitism/persecution).
    Once upon a time, Judaism was based purely on religious/racial
background. Now, in this day & age, w/ very differing subcultures &
backgrounds of Jews (Soviet, Ethiopian, Sephardic, Yemini Jews, etc),
we find that one of the only things that Jews hold in common today is
the thread of ANTISEMITISM. In a twisted sort of balance, judaism IS
antisemitism. I am not ecstatic about this, nor do i agree w/ it, but
thats how it works. that is our history. (in fact, there is a saying:
"they tried to kill us, we've survived, now lets eat.")the more
"thorough" convert will have had to experience antisemitism in order
to truly be part of the jewish experience (in that case, personally, i
almost have to think that you would need to be insane to actually WANT
to convert... i LOVE being jewish, but for someone foreign to it...)
     & about conversions, it is interesting to compare Judaism to
another religion/ethnicity, Navajo, for example. For the purposes of
this discussion, lets say that a scandinavian descendant finds their
passion in the Navajo RELIGION. She marries a Navajo, & then converts.
Is she a Navajo? Religiously, yes. ETHNICALLY? NO! She does NOT share
the cultural & political experiences of the Navajo People. No matter
how much she believes in the Wolf, or any other natural "deities," she
will never be as close to Navajo as Navajos are. There are exeptions,
of course: if she was adopted by a Navaho couple when she was a baby,
& had a Navaho upbringing, then in a way, she is more culturally in
tune. Or, say, if centuries ago, her ancestors converted, & since then
they have integrated w/ the culture (through intermarriage, or simply
time just melting the differences away). Same deal going on w/ Hindus,
Gypsies, Jews...
                                 "The End of my Shpiel"

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy