Self-Hating Jews

How does one qualify?

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The Legacy of Self-Hatred

Unsurprisingly, the legitimacy of the term remains controversial. Some scholars have claimed that by labeling another Jew self-hating, the accuser is claiming his or her own Judaism as normative--and implying that the Judaism of the accused is flawed or incorrect, based on a metric of the accuser's own stances, religious beliefs, or political opinions.

By arguing with the label, then, the accused is rejecting what has been defined as normative Judaism. The term "self-hating" thus places the person or object labeled outside the boundaries of the discourse--and outside the boundaries of the community.

Of course, not everything is relative. Sam Roth and those like him might be fairly characterized as self-loathing: that is, Jews who not only feel shame about their roots, but embrace or promote anti-Semitic attitudes, rhetoric, and stereotypes in public forums. The trouble is in distinguishing between what are legitimately anti-Semitic stereotypes, and what are merely warring political perspectives.

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Jordie Gerson

Jordie Gerson is a newly ordained rabbi and a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.