Can "Jewish" be considered a race as well as a religion?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Judaism, as are many non-missionary religions, was historically geographically based. It originated in the area of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, in the area of present day Israel which is considered the Jewish homeland. Although many people have converted to the religion over time, and those who were traditionally Jewish were forced to leave their ancestral homeland in the diaspora, it is primarily practiced by persons of Semitic origin, and conversion is actively discouraged. Persons of Semitic origin have distinct physical features which often distinguish them from others, and since they are quite frequently (but not always) Jewish, it is easy to blur the line of distinction between Semitic ethnicity and religious identity. In fact, persons who oppose Jewish ideas or Jewish believers are often called "anti-Semitic," an unfortunate term.

Judaism is first and last a religion. A substantial number of those who practice the religion are ethnically Semitic. This fact, however, does not morph those who practice the religion into a race or ethnic group.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would argue that there is no such thing as a Jewish "race."  There are at least three reasons for this.

First of all, scientists agree that the idea of "race" is solely a social construct to begin with.  We humans have made up the idea of race and there is no technical way to determine who is a member of one race or another.

Secondly, anyone can become Jewish through conversion.  A person need not be born Jewish to become a Jew.

Finally, there are many different Jewish populations.  There are Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were from the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Africa.  There are Ashkenazic Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe.  There are Jewish populations in Ethiopia and Yemen.  All of these people cannot possibly make up one "race."


samjazael123 | Student

Well Jews are in fact a race, but biblical tradition states that we all have the same lineage and in fact scientists have proved as well as sanctified the idea that we all come from one paticular race and ancestry. The Jews are in fact the most persecuted in the middle east. From the arab uprisings and in fact are despised by palestinans whom want to wipe them off the map. Since im well known with biblical & koranic teaching this all started because of a rivalry that has been going on for centuries as Muslims believe in Ishmael as the true son of abraham Jews believe in Isaac whom was the true son of abraham. In fact muslims trace their ancestry to cannaanites who once claimed israel as their own.

As you look into biblical theology you see a lineage far more complex, but easy to determine that we all come from the lineage of adam & eve whom started the offspring of cane & able in which the flood occured in which was the lineage of Enoch whom Noah was descended from, but race doesn't matter in Jewish lore in fact David married the queen of Sheba whom wasn't Jewish, but was in fact Dark skinned color, but they don't tell her race though.


So anyone can worship in the synogouges whom wants to believe in Yahweh which is the christian god as well. Even in Islam Allah means only (the god), but we've all descended from some single family and even evolution can't explain the importance of our ancestry because we can't explain our origins with science, but we can explain how to make life better.

wattersr | Student

I believe Jews were not seen as a race until Hitler sent to the camps everyone who was even "a quarter Jew".  Religion is not supposed to be synonymous with race, but Hitler wanted to wipe the Jews off the face of the Earth so he treated them like a race.  

Naturally though, a father who practises Judaism will teach the religion to his son (and so on), so there is likely to be somewhat of a Judaic Bloodline, which is similar to a race.