Who is a Jew: Identity Issues

Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi Jews

Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrahi Jews

For most Americans, traditional Jewish culture summons up images of Passover seders with steaming bowls of matzah ball soup, black-hatted, pale-skinned Hasidic men, and Yiddish-speaking bubbes (grandmothers) and zeydes (grandfathers). In reality, these snapshots represent only one Jewish ethnic group of many.

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Practices and Traditions

Kohen

Kohen

Descendents of Aaron the priest enjoy special privileges.

Levite

Even after the Temple's destruction, Levites have some unique ritual privileges.

Crypto-Jews

A history of the marrano diaspora.

Semites

A historian traces the origins of the term.

DNA Speaks

The field of genetics sheds light on the historical record of Jewish origins and migrations.

Modern Insights

Funny, You Don't Look Jewish

Funny, You Don't Look Jewish

An Ashkenazic Reform Korean rabbi explores her identity.

Non-Traditional Jewish Identities

A look at the many different ways Jews define their Judaism today.

A New Model For Jewish Identity

Personal choice trumps group-oriented feelings of obligation.

Jewish Secularism

Is Jewish secularism possible?

Jewish Identity

More than half of American Jews define themselves as secular.


Controversies

Jewish Legal Status

Jewish Legal Status

Especially in Israel, "Who is a Jew?" has many practical ramifications.

Patrilineal Descent

The Reform movement's watershed resolution of 1983.

Denominational Differences

Disagreements between the movements about how one can become a Jew.

Self-Hating Jews

How does one qualify?

Books

Who Is a Jew?: Conversations, Not Conclusions

Who Is a Jew?: Conversations, Not Conclusions

By Merle Hyman

Israel, the Diaspora and Jewish Identity

Edited by Danny Ben-Moshe and Zohar Segev

The Conversion Crisis: Essays from the Pages of Tradition

Edited by Emanuel Feldman and Joel B. Wolowelsky

Quiz Yourself

How much do you know about the spectrum of Jewish identity?

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