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View Full Version : Do you consider patrilineal Jews to be Jewish?



Agamemnon
07-27-2019, 10:21 PM
DO NOT ANSWER IF YOU ARE NOT JEWISH*

Since we now have a decent number of Jewish members here, I thought this would probably be the right moment to ask how most of you feel especially since you are all knowledgeable people.

Do not be afraid of hurting my (or anyone else's) feelings, this is not a personal question, as far as I am concerned I view myself as a Jew first and foremost regardless of what other people think. While I'm not the most observant type, I do celebrate Jewish feasts and try to keep kosher as much as possible (not an easy feat where I am though, but I can manage). But do not let this influence you, just provide an honest answer.

I'm especially interested in knowing whether recent discoveries in population genetics have anything to do with your stance on this topic.

*: The results are public, so there's no point in voting if you're not a Jew. As far as this poll is of concern, we are following the halakhic (hence matrilineal) definition of Jewishness, so do not answer if you are not halakhically-Jewish.

Erikl86
07-28-2019, 08:09 AM
I voted both "yes" and "it's complicated", and as requested, I'll explain.

Before my knowledge of the genetic uniqueness of Jewish populations, I had an ethnic-nationalistic secular view of who is a Jew, and so saw "half-Jews" - a concept that the Halakha doesn't recognize - in the same way I view full Jews, and also had no significant gender bias when it came to the single Jewish parent that person had (again, this goes against Halakha, which of course only acknowledge Jewishness if your mother is Jewish).

I emphasized more on whether or not this person recognizes their Jewish parent ancestral legacy, with sometime acknowledging the irony that halakhatic full Jews - people with Jewish mothers but non-Jewish fathers - have on occasions historically didn't see themselves as Jews and even cooperated intimately with our greatest haters.

However, after becoming aware of the fact that not only Jews have a unique shared genetic ancestry, but that Western Jews are more closely related to each other but not as close to Mizrahi Jews (autosomally), with only the paternal (Levantine) lineages shared between these otherwise non-overlapping populations, I now favor a patrilineal ancestry for "half-Jews" than matrilineal one.

For me, if someone with a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father still see themselves as part of the Jewish people, I'll of course embrace him as an equal member, like I did before.

But if someone would ask me, in terms of genetic-based ethnic kinship to full Jews, I would now see someone with a Jewish father but non-Jewish mother as somewhat "more Jewish". I mean, this is essentially what unified Ashkenazi Jews and Iraqi Jews, for instance (genetically speaking of course), so why not someone who's father is Jewish but his mother is English?

A note though, that this doesn't diminish the uniqueness of maternal subclades for Jews as well - I mean especially among Ashkenazi Jews, there are specific maternal lineages which are unique to Ashkenazim. But not to the rest of the Jewish ethnic groups. So I do believe recent genetic evidence favors for a paternal definition of Jews as well.

I also come from a secular Israeli Jewish background. That means that other than my own personal interest (and academic pursuit), I barely studied or got infused with the ideas of the Talmud or Mishnah as part of my official state mandated education. You see, in Israel, in the secular state sponsored education system, we study only the Tanakh. And you do it twice - during elementary school, and then during your high school years. It is studied in the same way Greek mythology is being studied in Greek schools. And in the Tanakh, until you reach Ezra and Nehemia, you get the "tone" that all lineages are dictated patrilineally - ie "Isaac son of Abraham" etc., which historically indeed was the case. You also see that many of our mythological/historical leaders were married to non-ethnically Israelites - like Ruth the Moabite, Zipporah the Kenite, Solomon that had "a thousand wives" from many ethnic backgrounds, etc.. You really get that until around the 5th century BCE, Jewishness was mostly defined patrilineally.

Also, if I am to not also view patrilineal Jews as Jews, then IMO Karaites cannot be viewed as Jews, and of course, I view them as Jews similar to the way I view any other Jew as such.

And in a more personal note - of course I see you Aga as ethnically Jewish :)

Seabass
07-28-2019, 08:40 AM
Do I think some very orthodox rabbi's will see them as 'Jewish'? Sadly not. Do I? Yeah absolutely. I think fortunately with the abundance of commercial DNA testing now and academic samples available, a lot of part Jews can not just prove their 'Jewishness', but even specifically which numerous different genetic sub-Jewish groups within umbrella Jewish groups they could belong to, ie a part several generations Israeli. I'm a Jew through my maternal side, but I don't agree that someone is more 'Jewish' via a father than a mother or vice versa. It's irrelevant to me whether a male gets just their mothers X Chromosome, or that our father's genes may dominate a little more in terms of gene expression, or that mothers have more of a cultural influence, or that more 'Judean' lineages have survived among Jews today through their paternal as opposed to maternal lineages, etc, etc

artemv
07-28-2019, 11:36 AM
Yes, I consider them to be Jewish. Of course, it also depends on person's self-identification and attitude towards Jewry in general, for example, I would not consider Jewish anyone who converted to other religion.
I understand it well what does it mean, when Russians (and other non-Jews) consider you are Jewish, but not all Jews recognize you as a Jew and certanly in synagogue you will be treated as a non-Jew. Although I am halakhic-Jew, and have never been in such situation myself, I was thinking about this. This could be a personal tragedy for some people.

Did knowledge in genetical history changed anything for me? It is a reminder, that during history all groups of people extensievly mixed with each other, and Judea time Jews were not different. The situation of excile Jews, who lived among other peoples and struggled hard not to mix is a rare (although not unique) case, but even they got some admixture. Most peoples accept converts from other cultural/religious groups easily.

By the way, those closed groups are in most cases minorites, who have no state and just fight hard to keep their own culture.

Targum
07-28-2019, 12:32 PM
Ethnically they are Jews. Halakhically they are זרע ישראל zera’ Yisrael, thus in a special class , a fast track for giyur or conversion. I am a big fan of Rabbi Haim Amsalem in this issue, meaning maximum inclusion and outreach (which doesn’t apply to geniuses like Aga, rather to Bnei Anusim collective).
https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/We-need-to-embrace-zera-Yisrael/amp

Sikeliot
07-28-2019, 01:13 PM
I voted both "yes" and "it's complicated", and as requested, I'll explain.

Before my knowledge of the genetic uniqueness of Jewish populations, I had an ethnic-nationalistic secular view of who is a Jew, and so saw "half-Jews" - a concept that the Halakha doesn't recognize - in the same way I view full Jews, and also had no significant gender bias when it came to the single Jewish parent that person had (again, this goes against Halakha, which of course only acknowledge Jewishness if your mother is Jewish).

I emphasized more on whether or not this person recognizes their Jewish parent ancestral legacy, with sometime acknowledging the irony that halakhatic full Jews - people with Jewish mothers but non-Jewish fathers - have on occasions historically didn't see themselves as Jews and even cooperated intimately with our greatest haters.

However, after becoming aware of the fact that not only Jews have a unique shared genetic ancestry, but that Western Jews are more closely related to each other but not as close to Mizrahi Jews (autosomally), with only the paternal (Levantine) lineages shared between these otherwise non-overlapping populations, I now favor a patrilineal ancestry for "half-Jews" than matrilineal one.

For me, if someone with a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father still see themselves as part of the Jewish people, I'll of course embrace him as an equal member, like I did before.

But if someone would ask me, in terms of genetic-based ethnic kinship to full Jews, I would now see someone with a Jewish father but non-Jewish mother as somewhat "more Jewish". I mean, this is essentially what unified Ashkenazi Jews and Iraqi Jews, for instance (genetically speaking of course), so why not someone who's father is Jewish but his mother is English?

A note though, that this doesn't diminish the uniqueness of maternal subclades for Jews as well - I mean especially among Ashkenazi Jews, there are specific maternal lineages which are unique to Ashkenazim. But not to the rest of the Jewish ethnic groups. So I do believe recent genetic evidence favors for a paternal definition of Jews as well.

I also come from a secular Israeli Jewish background. That means that other than my own personal interest (and academic pursuit), I barely studied or got infused with the ideas of the Talmud or Mishnah as part of my official state mandated education. You see, in Israel, in the secular state sponsored education system, we study only the Tanakh. And you do it twice - during elementary school, and then during your high school years. It is studied in the same way Greek mythology is being studied in Greek schools. And in the Tanakh, until you reach Ezra and Nehemia, you get the "tone" that all lineages are dictated patrilineally - ie "Isaac son of Abraham" etc., which historically indeed was the case. You also see that many of our mythological/historical leaders were married to non-ethnically Israelites - like Ruth the Moabite, Zipporah the Kenite, Solomon that had "a thousand wives" from many ethnic backgrounds, etc.. You really get that until around the 5th century BCE, Jewishness was mostly defined patrilineally.

Also, if I am to not also view patrilineal Jews as Jews, then IMO Karaites cannot be viewed as Jews, and of course, I view them as Jews similar to the way I view any other Jew as such.

And in a more personal note - of course I see you Aga as ethnically Jewish :)

The better question I have is why is Jewish identity matrilineal to begin with then? Did this concept originate before, or after, the Jewish diaspora was formed?

Sikeliot
07-28-2019, 01:14 PM
DO NOT ANSWER IF YOU ARE NOT JEWISH*


I violated this by voting before I read your post!! I am sorry. If a moderator can reverse my vote that would be helpful.

Erikl86
07-28-2019, 01:58 PM
The better question I have is why is Jewish identity matrilineal to begin with then? Did this concept originate before, or after, the Jewish diaspora was formed?

There's a big uncertainty there. If you'll ask Orthodox Jews, they will they that there are references from the Torah itself to this, such as in Leviticus 24:11, Ezra 9-10, and Nehemiah 13. I personally don't really buy into this, because obviously Moses married a non-Jew, as there are several similar stories of religiously-righteous men in the Tanakh which married non-Jewish women, and the fact that virtually all lineages in the Tanakh are mentioned in their patrilineal heritage, not matrilineal.

There's an additional theory, which says that perhaps 1st century CE Tannaim-period Jews were influenced from the Roman law Mater semper certa est. This Roman law states that the mother of the child is conclusively established, from the moment of birth, by the mother’s role in the birth.

Sikeliot
07-28-2019, 02:01 PM
There's a big uncertainty there. If you'll ask Orthodox Jews, they will they that there are references from the Torah itself to this, such as in Leviticus 24:11, Ezra 9-10, and Nehemiah 13. I personally don't really buy into this, because obviously Moses married a non-Jew, as there are several similar stories of religiously-righteous men in the Tanakh which married non-Jewish women, and the fact that virtually all lineages in the Tanakh are mentioned in their patrilineal heritage, not matrilineal.

There's an additional theory, which says that perhaps 1st century CE Tannaim-period Jews were influenced from the Roman law Mater semper certa est. This Roman law states that the mother of the child is conclusively established, from the moment of birth, by the mother’s role in the birth.

Someone once told me that Jewish matrilineal descent came from in the diaspora, because Jewish women were raped by Russian, Polish, German, etc. men and as such, the child's identity would need to be tied to the mother's. I doubt this is the real reason.

Targum
07-28-2019, 02:08 PM
Usually ascribed by mainstream tradition to Ezra and his post-Babylonian Exile reforms, which were proactive anti-assimilation decrees. Scholars see this as one of the historical turning points which led Jewish history and resulted in Jewish survival ; in contrast to the more “liberal” Israelites carried away by Assyria, who assimilated into historical oblivion . The other post-exile factors ( but all really developed in Bavel or even pre-exile)were the developments of the institutions of the Yeshiva, the Rabbis and the Synagogue.

Claudio
07-28-2019, 02:12 PM
Someone once told me that Jewish matrilineal descent came from in the diaspora, because Jewish women were raped by Russian, Polish, German, etc. men and as such, the child's identity would need to be tied to the mother's. I doubt this is the real reason.

Someone else stated similar scenario but much earlier with regards to Roman soldiers.

Sikeliot
07-28-2019, 02:14 PM
Someone else stated similar scenario but much earlier with regards to Roman soldiers.

But this would make no sense, since the Jewish population in Rome would have been mostly descended from Jewish men, and non-Jewish women (probably a mixture of Italics and Magna Grecians).

Claudio
07-28-2019, 02:47 PM
But this would make no sense, since the Jewish population in Rome would have been mostly descended from Jewish men, and non-Jewish women (probably a mixture of Italics and Magna Grecians).

No someone mentioned that in Judea under Roman rule when all the trouble was brewing that Jewishness being passed down maternally came about because local Roman soldiers kept raping Jewish Women,so to get over the “is the Child still Jewish” they used the Jewishness being passed down as maternally to get around this problem.
Obviously this is not corroborated by Roman Italian Paternal clades in today’s Jewish men but one has to take into account that most of local Roman soldiers were local Phoenician’s and Syrian’s.
(On a side note similarly related have you never heard of the theory of Jesus father being a Roman Soldier of Phoenician descent called Pantera)
32045
32046

Targum
07-28-2019, 03:06 PM
No someone mentioned that in Judea under Roman rule when all the trouble was brewing that Jewishness being passed down maternally came about because local Roman soldiers kept raping Jewish Women,so to get over the “is the Child still Jewish” they used the Jewishness being passed down as maternally to get around this problem.
Obviously this is not corroborated by Roman Italian Paternal clades in today’s Jewish men but one has to take into account that most of local Roman soldiers were local Phoenician’s and Syrian’s.
(On a side note similarly related have you never heard of the theory of Jesus father being a Roman Soldier of Phoenician descent called Pantera)
32045
32046

See תלמוד בבלי Babylonian Talmud מס׳ כתובות Tractate Ketubot the first sugiyyah deals thoroughly with the whole Roman soldier issue

Agamemnon
07-28-2019, 03:17 PM
Rape as the cause of matrilineality doesn't really make sense, at some point in the Talmud there is a discussion on whether the children of non-Jewish fathers should be considered mamzerim (illegitimate, this word does not have the negative connotations associated with the word "bastard")... The sages eventually ruled against this, but you'll have to agree that there are better ways of soothing the pain of a woman who was raped.

As for the antiquity of matrilineal descent itself. While Ezra and the return from exile is taken by many to mark this shift, a closer inspection of the historical sources shows that matrilineal descent was basically unknown by the first centuries CE. Philo makes no mention of it and goes as far as to call children born to non-Jewish fathers "nothoi" (which echoes the argument I mentioned in the Talmud). Josephus openly assumes that the offspring of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother is Jewish, and pays zero attention whatsoever to the offspring of non-Jewish fathers. But what is even more interesting IMO are the popular attitudes of the time. The Herodian dynasty was widely viewed as a foreign one because it was of Idumean origin (along the paternal line), the fact that several Herodian rulers were born to Jewish mothers (including Mariamne, a Hasmonean princess) did not make them any more Jewish in the eyes of the people of Judea. It took the destruction of Judean society for the stigma of Idumean, Iturean and other non-Jewish pedigrees to disappear, no less than that.

If I am to make an educated guess, I think this shift to matrilineality started in a few isolated rabbinical communities after the great revolt, and that it spread rapidly. Considering the wording in the Talmud, it's also doubtful the objective was to exclude the offspring of non-Jewish mothers, but it eventually took that form. If we are to use the DNA evidence, the fact that the Y-Chromosomal lineages tend to be of Levantine origin in their absolute majority while the opposite is true for the mitochondrial lineages (there are of course exceptions to this, artemv's mitochondrial lineage is very likely to be Israelite in origin for example) does suggest that it took quite some time for the matrilineal principle to be applied in a quasi-universal manner in the Rabbinical Jewish world, this in my view is another indication that the custom is likely to have appeared in Tannaitic times.


There's an additional theory, which says that perhaps 1st century CE Tannaim-period Jews were influenced from the Roman law Mater semper certa est. This Roman law states that the mother of the child is conclusively established, from the moment of birth, by the mother’s role in the birth.

While the custom probably dates back to Tannaitic times, I'm not sure this was the reasoning behind its adoption. There are two reasons for this:


Jews during the last centuries BCE and the first centuries CE certainly would've been familiar with the story of Solomon's judgment, this figures in Melakhim Alef 16-28 and basically deals with a case where maternity is uncertain as two women claim to have mothered the same child. With stories such as this, it's hard to believe Second Temple-era Jews would so eagerly declare the mother's identity to be always certain.


The preservation of patrilineal status and hierarchy throughout the Mosaic world. Normative Judaism recognises three "classes", namely Isra'elim, Levyim and Kohanim; all of which are transmitted patrilineally. This was taken so seriously that we now know that a genetic reality underlies each one of these (in the form of drastically different Y-DNA frequencies).



IMO the logic behind the matrilineal principle has more to do with kil'ayim, the application of this logic to Jewishness would've provided Rabbinical Judaism with a more harmonious and straightforward system.

Erikl86
07-28-2019, 03:27 PM
Rape as the cause of matrilineality doesn't really make sense, at some point in the Talmud there is a discussion on whether the children of non-Jewish fathers should be considered mamzerim (illegitimate, this word does not have the negative connotations associated with the word "bastard")... The sages eventually ruled against this, but you'll have to agree that there are better ways of soothing the pain of a woman who was raped.

As for the antiquity of matrilineal descent itself. While Ezra and the return from exile is taken by many to mark this shift, a closer inspection of the historical sources show that matrilineal descent was basically unknown by the first centuries CE. Philo makes no mention of it and goes as far as to call children born to non-Jewish fathers "nothoi" (which echoes the argument I mentioned in the Talmud). Josephus openly assumes that the offspring of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother is Jewish, and pays zero attention whatsoever to the offspring of non-Jewish fathers. But what is even more interesting IMO are the popular attitudes of the time. The Herodian dynasty was widely viewed as a foreign one because it was of Idumean origin (along the paternal line), the fact that several Herodian rulers were born to Jewish mothers (including Mariamne, a Hasmonean princess) did not make them any more Jewish in the eyes of the people of Judea. It took the destruction of Judean society for the stigma of Idumean, Iturean and other non-Jewish pedigrees to disappear, no less than that.

If I am to make an educated guess, I think this shift to matrilineality started in a few isolated rabbinical communities after the great revolt, and that it spread rapidly. Considering the wording in the Talmud, it's also doubtful the objective was to exclude the offspring of non-Jewish mothers, but it eventually took that form. If we are to use the DNA evidence, the fact that the Y-Chromosomal lineages tend to be of Levantine origin in their absolute majority while the opposite is true for the mitochondrial lineages (there are of course exceptions to this, artemv's mitochondrial lineage is very likely to be Israelite in origin for example) does suggest that it took quite some time for the matrilineal principle to be applied in a quasi-universal manner in the Rabbinical Jewish world, this in my view is another indication that the custom is likely to have appeared in Tannaitic times.

I also believe rape isn't really the reason behind this, because:
1. Rape very rarely result in pregnancies, in fact, a short google search will show that its less than 10% chances for several reasons, so I doubt this was a wide enough phenomenon to justify an entire change in definition of who's Jewish.
2. The fact that virtually all Jewish lineages are Levantine, shows that rape with pregnancies as well as male conversion to Judaism was extremely rare.

If I can address the part of your post I've emphasized... I said it earlier, but I suspect that the fact that Rabbinic Judaism required the mother to be Jewish, coupled with what we know now - that most converts were women - kind of points to the possibility that this policy was adopted to make sure that women were properly converted, as there was no issue (or almost unheard of) that a man of such union would be non-Jewish.

The fact that in Philo's eyes, both parents were supposed to be Jewish, coupled with the fact that the 12th century Karaite Jews in Egypt also required both parents to be Jewish for the offspring to be Jewish (though they considered it to be partilineal definition for some reason), knowing that Karaites usually used to be more harsh on keeping more archaic rules than Rabbinic Jews, kind of, at least IMO, points out that perhaps that policy was enacted to cope with the popularity of Judaism among non-Jewish women.

artemv
07-28-2019, 03:51 PM
There's an additional theory, which says that perhaps 1st century CE Tannaim-period Jews were influenced from the Roman law Mater semper certa est. This Roman law states that the mother of the child is conclusively established, from the moment of birth, by the mother’s role in the birth.

I guess its political issue, religious leaders always pay attention to political considerations, even if they do not admit it.
For example Yehuda a-Nasi ordered to write down the Oral Torah (although it was forbidden), because he felt this is the only way for it not to be forgotten. Or during Macabee revolt it was decided not to keep shabbat at the time of war.

How could people of some religion, or some movement within religion survive if they are a small minority and politics from majority do not make it possible for them to recruit new members? Fight against mixed marriages (because they usually mean conversion to religion of majority), make conversion into their religion difficult (as accepting converts is very risky).
What are religions that make conversion difficult or even impossible? Religions of minorities on Middle East. Like Alawites, Druze, Jews, Yezidi, Zoroastrians, Samaritans - almost all religions, that survived under Muslem rule on the Middle East. Christians of the Middle East did not change their religious rules as they are written - but they changed them de-facto, as there was death sentence for converting from Islam to another religion.

So after Jews lost independence and then authonomy inside Roman Empire they got under religious pressure. After Parthian de-centralized state collapsed, and more centralized Persian state with Zoroastrianism as a state religion emerged, there was some religious pressure againt Jews in Babel also. Rabbinic leaders started fighting against mixed marriages. Previously it was common that if Jewish man marries non-Jewish woman their kids will be Jewish, so it was ok to marry any woman. Noone expected kid of Jewish mother and father from majority to be Jewish, and change from partilinear to matrilinear definition of a Jew was one of measures against assimilation.
Both more accurate approach towards converts and change of Jewish definition to mother-side happened because Jews lost their state and even authonomy, and had to live as a minority.

After Jewish state was created and tolerant approach towards Jewish religion won in USA, there is now a push to soften those policies. Who are against? Ultra-Orthodox Jewish, those who feel themselves as a minority in Jewish, but mostly secular society.

artemv
07-28-2019, 04:15 PM
As for the antiquity of matrilineal descent itself. While Ezra and the return from exile is taken by many to mark this shift, a closer inspection of the historical sources shows that matrilineal descent was basically unknown by the first centuries CE. Philo makes no mention of it and goes as far as to call children born to non-Jewish fathers "nothoi" (which echoes the argument I mentioned in the Talmud). Josephus openly assumes that the offspring of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother is Jewish, and pays zero attention whatsoever to the offspring of non-Jewish fathers. But what is even more interesting IMO are the popular attitudes of the time. The Herodian dynasty was widely viewed as a foreign one because it was of Idumean origin (along the paternal line), the fact that several Herodian rulers were born to Jewish mothers (including Mariamne, a Hasmonean princess) did not make them any more Jewish in the eyes of the people of Judea. It took the destruction of Judean society for the stigma of Idumean, Iturean and other non-Jewish pedigrees to disappear, no less than that.


Just notice here that both Ezra and Philo, who obviously fought against mixed marriages, both were born and grew up in diaspora.

DMXX
07-28-2019, 05:34 PM
I violated this by voting before I read your post!! I am sorry. If a moderator can reverse my vote that would be helpful.

I've just removed your vote from the "Yes" option (7 -> 6).

However, due to vB 4.2.5's settings, your name's still listed in the username list for that option and there's no front-end means through which we can remove that.

The only alternatives here:
1) Reset the poll as-is and ask everyone to repeat their previous choices (with you not voting in it this time), or
2) Reset the poll, but make the votes anonymous, permitting the mods/admins to repeat the previous count (Yes = 6, it's complicated = 3)

As this is Agamemnon's thread and poll, I'll leave the choice to him. Please let me know which you'll prefer. I'll check in later.

Agamemnon
07-28-2019, 05:53 PM
I've just removed your vote from the "Yes" option (7 -> 6).

However, due to vB 4.2.5's settings, your name's still listed in the username list for that option and there's no front-end means through which we can remove that.

The only alternatives here:
1) Reset the poll as-is and ask everyone to repeat their previous choices (with you not voting in it this time), or
2) Reset the poll, but make the votes anonymous, permitting the mods/admins to repeat the previous count (Yes = 6, it's complicated = 3)

As this is Agamemnon's thread and poll, I'll leave the choice to him. Please let me know which you'll prefer. I'll check in later.

No need to reset the poll, you've done enough :)

MikeWhalen
07-28-2019, 06:05 PM
dont worry, this Irish guy did not vote

I just wanted to say I appreciate this thread...learning lots of stuff on things I am not very familiar with yet hear talked about in the media and such from time to time, so given my historical interests...very cool

so thanks to all for the rather clear and civilized discussion

Mike
(big white greenish goyim?)
:)

Targum
07-28-2019, 06:32 PM
dont worry, this Irish guy did not vote

I just wanted to say I appreciate this thread...learning lots of stuff on things I am not very familiar with yet hear talked about in the media and such from time to time, so given my historical interests...very cool

so thanks to all for the rather clear and civilized discussion

Mike
(big white greenish goyim?)
:)

Erin go bragh!

artemv
07-28-2019, 06:52 PM
dont worry, this Irish guy did not vote

I just wanted to say I appreciate this thread...learning lots of stuff on things I am not very familiar with yet hear talked about in the media and such from time to time, so given my historical interests...very cool

so thanks to all for the rather clear and civilized discussion

Mike
(big white greenish goyim?)
:)

Thanks to moderators and administrators.
After all the trolls are banned smart people can make a nice and civilized discussion.
B)

josh w.
07-28-2019, 08:14 PM
Usually ascribed by mainstream tradition to Ezra and his post-Babylonian Exile reforms, which were proactive anti-assimilation decrees. Scholars see this as one of the historical turning points which led Jewish history and resulted in Jewish survival ; in contrast to the more “liberal” Israelites carried away by Assyria, who assimilated into historical oblivion . The other post-exile factors ( but all really developed in Bavel or even pre-exile)were the developments of the institutions of the Yeshiva, the Rabbis and the Synagogue.

I don't think Judaism began with the rabbinical tradition

Targum
07-28-2019, 08:39 PM
I don't think Judaism began with the rabbinical tradition

Your answer, with due respect misses my point. Judaism, the dual Torah begins with Avraham Avinu. I was answering regarding Rabbinic Codification of what came to be the Halakhah ;-); specifically that which was later codified in Talmud Bavli as to matrilineal descent.

jonahst
07-28-2019, 08:48 PM
Short answer for me is yes assuming that they self-identify as Jewish. I don't think it matters whether their mother or father is Jewish, but if they have a Jewish parent and a Jewish identity, then I consider them ethnically Jewish. Those with a Jewish parent and little-to-no Jewish identity, I'm more hesitant to describe as Jewish. Self-identification is a key factor in my opinion.

Similarly, I'm more ambivalent toward people with one Jewish parent (and, sometimes in the US, even those with two Jewish parents) whose Jewish identity is, at best, peripheral to their general identity, but they sometimes invoke it to gain some sort of moral authority for expressly political reasons ("as a Jew, I feel this way..."). Especially when those same people are silent or apathetic toward other Jews' feelings/needs when it doesn't fit their political viewpoints or agenda. Sadly, I feel like I see this a lot nowadays. It's difficult for me to take these people seriously as Jews. There's also a tendency for some Jews today, including those with two Jewish parents, who have little knowledge about Judaism but want to grasp onto some sort of Jewish identity (again, often for political reasons), so rather than seek out knowledge or wisdom from those who have committed their entire lives to Judaism, they try to redefine Judaism to fit into their existing identities and then claim that their Judaism is as "authentic" as that of people for whom being Jewish dictates almost every aspect of their lives. So this again has more to do with self-identification than with descent, whether patrilineal or matrilineal. And just to clarify, I'm not an Orthodox Jew, but I do have enormous respect for them and their commitment toward Jewish religion and culture.

Now in terms of halakhah, I am in favor of recognizing patrilineal descent (and this is one of the few points on which I agree with Reform/Liberal Judaism), but I also have respect for halakhah and Jewish tradition. So even though I don't necessarily agree with the strict matrilineal laws, I'm hesitant to outright disagree in part because I think that radical change and departure (such as that of Reform Judaism) can be a dangerous and slippery slope toward the disintegration of tradition altogether. If that makes sense.

Anyway, sorry if some of this is off topic, but this is why I chose both "yes" and "it's complicated." And of course I consider Aga and in general most (if not all) of the self-identifying Jews of mixed ancestry on this forum to be ethnically Jewish.

passenger
07-28-2019, 09:17 PM
I vote yes, with the caveat that my personal opinion obviously does not reflect the majority consensus within Jewish lay and religious society. As a secular matrilineal Jew, with no religious upbringing, my personal ties to Judaism and the Jewish people are based purely on a sense of ancestral belonging, which I don't feel should be any different for those whose descent comes from their father's side. I think Reform Judaism comes closest to the right approach, recognizing as Jewish those of either matrilineal or patrilineal descent as long as they were raised Jewish. However, when it comes to those with a secular background such as myself, my feeling is that many individual congregations still privilege matrilineal descent and require patrilineal "half-Jews" to convert. So, in terms of a secular, ethnic identity, I'd say patrilineal Jews are every bit as Jewish as matrilineal Jews, but the weight of tradition and halakhic rulings (despite the existence of seemingly valid counterarguments) is unlikely to be overcome anytime soon.

josh w.
07-29-2019, 01:30 AM
Your answer, with due respect misses my point. Judaism, the dual Torah begins with Avraham Avinu. I was answering regarding Rabbinic Codification of what came to be the Halakhah ;-); specifically that which was later codified in Talmud Bavli as to matrilineal descent.

Your answer is correct but it points out that the decision was sociological or political rather than theological in nature. Same for the choice of the Judean over the Samaritan view. The poll asks for our social or political view.

Targum
07-29-2019, 01:46 AM
Off line sometime I would be happy to discuss Torah she be’al peh with you . As someone who learns Gemara daily I cannot completely agree wit what I think you are saying about its genesis. Suffice to say that despite it having (out of historical necessity as artemv so accurately noted) been written down, it really was a much older oral tradition, sung in fact , as we still sing-song when reciting it out loud. We all only encountered it written, but when learning with a hhavruta חברותא, out loud, you do get a taste of the once completely oral tradition.

StillWater
07-29-2019, 05:41 AM
I only accept true Israelites as Jews:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zJ4YdYpr4s

VytautusofAukstaitija
07-29-2019, 10:17 AM
I only accept true Israelites as Jews:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zJ4YdYpr4s

These unidentifiable cosplayers usually have specific groups they target especially: Jews, and Horn Africans and NE Africans in general. They specifically seek out these two groups just to incite argumentation. They start off with seemingly innocent line of questioning to try to ascertain the people they are targeting are not from the wrong group. Once confirmed as a target foe, they then escalate to striking up a seemingly innocent conversation revolving around their dimwitted, childlike understanding of Christian theology. By the end, they are squealing a shower of spit and mucus about how they'll enslave your people and race for 1000 years. They once had the brilliant idea to racially profile and try a scuffle with the local Horn African mobsters - they quite quickly realized it wasn't their greatest idea. Fear does have a way with exposing our own blinded ineptitude, and so their local hordes silently went into hiding.

Nowadays they seem to be multiplying in numbers, and have been gaining significant celebrity backing and promotion.

I think it's quite clear that which feeds their genius is their inability to accept the reality of what they are and their own wretched lot in life. Correlations can be indicative, and the psychiatric wards are filled to the brim with their fellow kindred.

An aside - but Jewishness despite what one would expect (due to anti-Semitism) carries a prestige of sorts - I guessed due to its storied history - as most of my Jewish friends are half-Jewish in ancestry with Jewish fathers who were themselves half-Jewish, and they've always seen themselves as solely Jewish, and are rather strongly Zionist. I'd admit that I long admired that trait of seemingly imperishable Hebraic identity. I picked up on how it was usually those with Jewish fathers that identified with their Jewishness more strongly, but this is only my weak observation and shouldn't be extrapolated, as I've seen the opposite - albeit much more rarely.

Personally - I'm of the opinion that the Jews abandon this matrilineal nonconformism and repent; to return to the elevated, venerable patriarchal fold and inheritance traditions as established by the Afroasiatic forefathers of times ancient.

Bleach
07-29-2019, 10:49 AM
I voted Yes

Here is my own defintion for Jews :
Jews are an eastern-mediteranean people or a broader Levantine people , professing the rabbinic Judaism, and whose the motherland is between the Jordan and the mediterranean sea.

Here is my own Jewishness definition
Is Jewish, the one having at least one Jewish parent and recognising the Jewish people as a full-member nation and not only a religious practice.

Indeed, the one who sef-define as a Jew but claiming be before all, a French patriot for instance , is not Jewish anymore for me but only an individual having a Jewish background.
(In France , It is still looked upon positively non native people to leave their original background for adopting only French inheritance, but maybe in US or UK ,it's not a problem to define oneself both as a national Jew and as a Brit or as an American patriot, though it brings up a double allegiance question, that's why I tend to adopt the French viewpoint)

Seabass
07-29-2019, 11:14 AM
I voted Yes

Here is my own defintion for Jews :
Jews are an eastern-mediteranean people or a broader Levantine people , professing the rabbinic Judaism, and whose the motherland is between the Jordan and the mediterranean sea.

How about Mountain Jews, Oriental Jews, Yemenite Jews and Ethiopian Jews? Their homeland has no connection to the Mediterranean sea. When I look at and consider someone a Jew, I don't think 'oh genetic studies don't seem to suggest their people are primarily of Judean descent, so they can't be 'Jewish'!' I see someone as Jewish just by being merely a descendant of a Jewish community who long adhered to Judaism in the face of oppression and struggles, regardless if even say they descended wholly from natives that converted to Judaism. To me that devotion is admirable.


Here is my own Jewishness definition
Is Jewish, the one having at least one Jewish parent and recognising the Jewish people as a full-member nation and not only a religious practice.

Indeed, the one who sef-define as a Jew but claiming be before all, a French patriot for instance , is not Jewish anymore for me but only an individual having a Jewish background.
(In France , It is still looked upon positively non native people to leave their original background for adopting only French inheritance, but maybe in US or UK ,it's not a problem to define oneself both as a national Jew and as a Brit or as an American patriot, though it brings up a double allegiance question, that's why I tend to adopt the French viewpoint)

I don't want to de-rail from this topic but thanks for sharing your insight. It's interesting and I think I understand what you are implying. My mum is actually Parisienne, but because of many personal reasons I don't feel any bit 'French' or care to.

Bleach
07-29-2019, 12:43 PM
How about Mountain Jews, Oriental Jews, Yemenite Jews and Ethiopian Jews? Their homeland has no connection to the Mediterranean sea. When I look at and consider someone a Jew, I don't think 'oh genetic studies don't seem to suggest their people are primarily of Judean descent, so they can't be 'Jewish'!' I see someone as Jewish just by being merely a descendant of a Jewish community who long adhered to Judaism in the face of oppression and struggles, regardless if even say they descended wholly from natives that converted to Judaism. To me that devotion is admirable.


Oh yes sorry, I totally ruled out the Mizrahim and Falashas in my reasoning, because I thought about the vast majority of the modern Jewish People. I totally second your view about genetics findings concerning Jews, Jewishness must not to be a biological definition because everyone in the earth can adopt judaism and decide to join our people and our narrative.That being said, we don't have to be shameful to claim that the Jewish people is far to be an abstract idea, and its narrative is well-based on an actual genetic background.
Nowdays and whatever Shlomo Sand and consorts may think, we can spot a Jew through just a saliva sample and whatever he is Ashkenazi, Romaniote, North African, all the results will converge into the same place ,that is the eastern Mediteranean (Again Apologize for setting apart Mizrahim and Falashas). That was just the fact I meant to show up.
OK , as usual we will be replied that :" Yeah, Nazis would have been happy to detect a Jew through science..." ok so what ?
If you strive to show Jews are not a real people , so why don't you treat scientific arguments as serious ?

josh w.
07-29-2019, 03:01 PM
Off line sometime I would be happy to discuss Torah she be’al peh with you . As someone who learns Gemara daily I cannot completely agree wit what I think you are saying about its genesis. Suffice to say that despite it having (out of historical necessity as artemv so accurately noted) been written down, it really was a much older oral tradition, sung in fact , as we still sing-song when reciting it out loud. We all only encountered it written, but when learning with a hhavruta חברותא, out loud, you do get a taste of the once completely oral tradition.

My point was not about the time of origin of the maternalistic view. Yes it can be traced back to ancient Israel. But not to the Higher Authority any more than the paternalistic view can be so traced. It is a matter of secular considerations

(My broader position. I meet Orthodox requirements but I am a secular, non sectarian Jew. My identification was intended to honor the courage and suffering of my parents and ancestors.)

StillWater
07-29-2019, 04:00 PM
How about Mountain Jews, Oriental Jews, Yemenite Jews and Ethiopian Jews? Their homeland has no connection to the Mediterranean sea. When I look at and consider someone a Jew, I don't think 'oh genetic studies don't seem to suggest their people are primarily of Judean descent, so they can't be 'Jewish'!' I see someone as Jewish just by being merely a descendant of a Jewish community who long adhered to Judaism in the face of oppression and struggles, regardless if even say they descended wholly from natives that converted to Judaism. To me that devotion is admirable.


I only read one study on Yemenite Jews, which stated that while their autosomal plotting was very different from other Jewish groups, their IBD sharing with other Jews did suggest some Israelite ancestry. Granted, I don't have the background to fully understand that study. As for Mountain Jews and Oriental Jews, all of whom are Mizrachim, they share some YDNA with Western Jews. Some Iraqi Jews even plot firmly in the Levant.

Agamemnon
07-29-2019, 04:03 PM
I only read one study on Yemenite Jews, which stated that while their autosomal plotting was very different from other Jewish groups, their IBD sharing with other Jews did suggest some Israelite ancestry. Granted, I don't have the background to fully understand that study. As for Mountain Jews and Oriental Jews, all of whom are Mizrachim, they share some YDNA with Western Jews. Some Iraqi Jews even plot firmly in the Levant.

Yemenite Jews also share Y-DNA lineages with other Jews, my own for instance.

StillWater
07-29-2019, 04:16 PM
Yemenite Jews also share Y-DNA lineages with other Jews, my own for instance.

You should post in the Mandaean thread and share your opinion.

StillWater
07-29-2019, 05:53 PM
Yemenite Jews also share Y-DNA lineages with other Jews, my own for instance.

Your mailbox is full. I'm trying to send you a pm. Do you mind making space? I would really appreciate it.

Agamemnon
07-29-2019, 05:58 PM
Your mailbox is full. I'm trying to send you a pm. Do you mind making space? I would really appreciate it.

Made a bit of space, you can send me the PM now ;)

StillWater
07-29-2019, 05:59 PM
Made a bit of space, you can send me the PM now ;)

Thanks!

Erik
07-29-2019, 07:54 PM
How about Mountain Jews, Oriental Jews, Yemenite Jews and Ethiopian Jews? Their homeland has no connection to the Mediterranean sea. When I look at and consider someone a Jew, I don't think 'oh genetic studies don't seem to suggest their people are primarily of Judean descent, so they can't be 'Jewish'!' I see someone as Jewish just by being merely a descendant of a Jewish community who long adhered to Judaism in the face of oppression and struggles, regardless if even say they descended wholly from natives that converted to Judaism. To me that devotion is admirable.



I don't want to de-rail from this topic but thanks for sharing your insight. It's interesting and I think I understand what you are implying. My mum is actually Parisienne, but because of many personal reasons I don't feel any bit 'French' or care to.

Since when are Mountain Jews not of Israelite descent though? It's my understanding that they're Persian Jews with some minimal Caucasian admixture, with Persian Jews being like Iraqi Jews with an added Persian component, with Iraqi Jews being a mix between Israelites and Mesopotamians. ;)

A lot of admixtures, but it still seems like a clear lineage to me.

jonahst
07-29-2019, 09:45 PM
Since when are Mountain Jews not of Israelite descent though? It's my understanding that they're Persian Jews with some minimal Caucasian admixture, with Persian Jews being like Iraqi Jews with an added Persian component, with Iraqi Jews being a mix between Israelites and Mesopotamians. ;)

A lot of admixtures, but it still seems like a clear lineage to me.

From what I gather, Seabass meant they're not part of the East Med continuum like Western Jews. Of course Mizrahi Jews, including Mountain Jews, derive a substantial amount of their ancestry from the Levant, which is obviously on the Mediterranean, but they're overall more West Asian than East Med.

Agamemnon
08-03-2019, 11:46 PM
Since the activity in this thread has died out a little bit too quickly for my taste, I'll reveal one of the many things that bugs me with the Reform movement's definition of Jewishness... I am talking about the requirement of a Jewish upbringing. Normally, I would make no argument if we were talking about another culture, but this is Jewishness we are talking about.

Our greatest culture hero is Moshe Rabbeinu, at the very end of Dəvarim we read "lō qam naḇiˀ ˁōḏ beYiśraˀēl kəMōše̞h ˀăše̞r yəḏaˁū YHWH panim ˀe̞l panim". And yet this is a man who was abandoned as a child, adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, who grew up in the house of Pharaoh. The man who became our greatest leader was not raised as an Israelite. One could of course argue that this predated the giving of the law at Har Sinai, but still, I cannot help but think that what is applied to the most revered should also count for us and remain an example to be followed.

It seems to me as if the Reform movement decides to view the glass as half-empty so to speak. Jewishness as I understand it is not something that can be taken away so easily. In this I agree with the Orthodox, if you are halakhically-Jewish then there is no point discussing the finer details. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with Yahadut could perhaps make you a bad Jew, but certainly not a non-Jew. The entry is biological, so the exit cannot possibly be cultural. A Jew adopted by Italian parents and raised all his life as a devout Catholic isn't any less Jewish in my eyes, he is in fact the very definition of a tinoq shenishbah, he had no say in the matter.

Dieu
08-04-2019, 01:02 AM
Who is more jewish ? A half black african and half jewish or a three quarter european and one quarter jewish ? Because Jewish people would be more closery related to the three quarter european person even if he has less "jewish dna" than the half black african.

jonahst
08-04-2019, 01:16 AM
Who is more jewish ? A half black african and half jewish or a three quarter european and one quarter jewish ? Because Jewish people would be more closery related to the three quarter european person even if he has less "jewish dna" than the half black african.

I would say without a doubt the half Jew. Just like a fully Sicilian or Lebanese person is not more "Jewish" than the quarter Jew you described even though they're more closely-related.

Dieu
08-04-2019, 01:43 AM
I would say without a doubt the half Jew. Just like a fully Sicilian or Lebanese person is not more "Jewish" than the quarter Jew you described even though they're more closely-related.

Ok and a half homo sapien jewish and a half homo neanderthalensis ?

passenger
08-04-2019, 02:35 AM
Since the activity in this thread has died out a little bit too quickly for my taste, I'll reveal one of the many things that bugs me with the Reform movement's definition of Jewishness... I am talking about the requirement of a Jewish upbringing. Normally, I would make no argument if we were talking about another culture, but this is Jewishness we are talking about.

Our greatest culture hero is Moshe Rabbeinu, at the very end of Dəvarim we read "lō qam naḇiˀ ˁōḏ beYiśraˀēl kəMōše̞h ˀăše̞r yəḏaˁū YHWH panim ˀe̞l panim". And yet this is a man who was abandoned as a child, adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, who grew up in the house of Pharaoh. The man who became our greatest leader was not raised as an Israelite. One could of course argue that this predated the giving of the law at Har Sinai, but still, I cannot help but think that what is applied to the most revered should also count for us and remain an example to be followed.

It seems to me as if the Reform movement decides to view the glass as half-empty so to speak. Jewishness as I understand it is not something that can be taken away so easily. In this I agree with the Orthodox, if you are halakhically-Jewish then there is no point discussing the finer details. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with Yahadut could perhaps make you a bad Jew, but certainly not a non-Jew. The entry is biological, so the exit cannot possibly be cultural. A Jew adopted by Italian parents and raised all his life as a devout Catholic isn't any less Jewish in my eyes, he is in fact the very definition of a tinoq shenishbah, he had no say in the matter.

I think it's really a conundrum. Reform Judaism has tried to grapple with the cultural reality of mixed marriages and an extremely high assimilation rate in North America, so their priority has been to maintain some form of cohesion in the form of regulating cultural adherence to some semblance of a "Jewish life", even if that means abandoning strict adherence to Halacha. I certainly understand why many other schools of thought within Judaism would privilege Halacha over all else, after all it's the word that binds. However, I don't think that any of the choices the Reform movement has made have been easy ones. Do you risk alienating a huge percentage of your potential members by enforcing strict matrilineal descent? If you want to ensure maximum inclusion by opening up to both patrilineal and matrilineal Jews, how can you do so without straying too far from the concept of Judaism as an everchanging, yet unbroken chain of not just genetic, but also cultural transmission?

My biggest issue with Reform practices is that they're still ambiguous. The URJ sets guidelines, but individual congregations make their own interpretations. I was told in my own congregation that there was no need for me to convert in order to become a full member, despite my not having had any religious upbringing, yet patrilineal Jews in the same situation are asked to go through the conversion process. If I'm being selfish, that works just fine for me personally - I'm happy to be included. But it seems that some within the Reform movement want to have their cake and eat it too, i.e., maintain organizational guidelines aimed at maximizing inclusiveness, while at the same time selectively cleaving to tradition.

LTG
08-04-2019, 04:06 AM
It seems to me as if the Reform movement decides to view the glass as half-empty so to speak. Jewishness as I understand it is not something that can be taken away so easily. In this I agree with the Orthodox, if you are halakhically-Jewish then there is no point discussing the finer details. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with Yahadut could perhaps make you a bad Jew, but certainly not a non-Jew. The entry is biological, so the exit cannot possibly be cultural. A Jew adopted by Italian parents and raised all his life as a devout Catholic isn't any less Jewish in my eyes, he is in fact the very definition of a tinoq shenishbah, he had no say in the matter.

The entry cannot be strictly biological when conversion is available to outside peoples. I watched a rather interesting video recently about a Chinese man who converted to Orthodox Judaism, for example. You also have individuals of European descent without Jewish mothers who converted alongside the established Ethiopian, Latin American and Indian communities who live as recognized Jews. The very existence of such genetically diverse communities would strongly undermine your statement about the entry to "Jewishness" being biological. It appears in reality to be the exact opposite with the amalgamation of both religious and cultural factors being of most importance.

This would also apply to exiting "Jewishness" as a conversion to Christianity for example would mean accepting Jesus Christ and thus the supercessionist view. Israel to my knowledge forbids the right of return for those ethnic Jews who happened to convert to another religion whilst in exile. This would indicate that not only is "Jewishness" something that is quite malleable and subject to revocation but that the authorities themselves consider religion and culture to be of paramount importance when deciding "Who is a Jew?". The fact that they would be willing to turn away Jews who may have maternal family records spanning hundreds of years in favor of converts would also undermine your above statement about it not being possible to exit culturally.

In a perfect world "Jewishness" would be strictly ethnic in orientation but as we know Jews have now absorbed tons of converts and assimilated native peoples from their host regions since the exodus. Ashkenazi Jews are very different to Georgian and Iranian Jews, for example. Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews appear to be converted natives from those regions with the latter being well outside of the West Eurasian spectrum. Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian Jews are somewhat close to Ashkenazi Jews but still different enough to fall into what could be termed the "other" category. I imagine many of these different groups originated from a line of non-Jewish women to begin with which in and of itself indicates a preference for preservation of religion and culture over genetics. It is for this reason that there isn't a uniform and monolithic "Jewishness" from a biological standpoint anymore but rather a group of associated peoples who share a religion, language and culture. The more liberal Jewish groups know that the only way that Jews can sustain themselves in the modern world is by moving away from a biological perspective because their intermarriage rates are through the roof compared to the likes of Europeans.

jonahst
08-04-2019, 04:29 AM
The entry cannot be strictly biological when conversion is available to outside peoples. I watched a rather interesting video recently about a Chinese man who converted to Orthodox Judaism, for example. You also have individuals of European descent without Jewish mothers who converted alongside the established Ethiopian, Latin American and Indian communities who live as recognized Jews. The very existence of such genetically diverse communities would strongly undermine your statement about the entry to "Jewishness" being biological. It appears in reality to be the exact opposite with the amalgamation of both religious and cultural factors being of most importance.

This would also apply to exiting "Jewishness" as a conversion to Christianity for example would mean accepting Jesus Christ and thus the supercessionist view. Israel to my knowledge forbids the right of return for those ethnic Jews who happened to convert to another religion whilst in exile. This would indicate that not only is "Jewishness" something that is quite malleable and subject to revocation but that the authorities themselves consider religion and culture to be of paramount importance when deciding "Who is a Jew?". The fact that they would be willing to turn away Jews who may have maternal family records spanning hundreds of years in favor of converts would also undermine your above statement about it not being possible to exit culturally.

In a perfect world "Jewishness" would be strictly ethnic in orientation but as we know Jews have now absorbed tons of converts and assimilated native peoples from their host regions since the exodus. Ashkenazi Jews are very different to Georgian and Iranian Jews, for example. Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews appear to be converted natives from those regions with the latter being well outside of the West Eurasian spectrum. Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian Jews are somewhat close to Ashkenazi Jews but still different enough to fall into what could be termed the "other" category. I imagine many of these different groups originated from a line of non-Jewish women to begin with which in and of itself indicates a preference for preservation of religion and culture over genetics. It is for this reason that there isn't a uniform and monolithic "Jewishness" from a biological standpoint anymore but rather a group of associated peoples who share a religion, language and culture. The more liberal Jewish groups know that the only way that Jews can sustain themselves in the modern world is by moving away from a biological perspective because their intermarriage rates are through the roof compared to the likes of Europeans.

Jewish identity is and has always been very complex, but converts today and historically have made up a very small fraction of the Jewish population at any given point. Intermarriage is by far the biggest factor in explaining genetic diversity among most modern Jews. European, North African, and Syrian Jews are about as, if not more, closely-related to each other as two people from opposite ends of many European countries (Venetian vs. Sicilian).

More liberal streams of modern Judaism (most relevant is Reform) have become more and more liberal in who they're willing to accept as Jews, but they don't just suffer from high intermarriage rates. They also suffer from low retention rates and low birth rates. On the other hand, Orthodox Jews, who have not shifted on the issue of who is Jewish, are multiplying like crazy and have extremely good retention rates among young adults. So the issue (and the impact it will have on Judaism in the long term) is much more complex.

artemv
08-04-2019, 08:22 AM
It seems to me as if the Reform movement decides to view the glass as half-empty so to speak. Jewishness as I understand it is not something that can be taken away so easily. In this I agree with the Orthodox, if you are halakhically-Jewish then there is no point discussing the finer details. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with Yahadut could perhaps make you a bad Jew, but certainly not a non-Jew. The entry is biological, so the exit cannot possibly be cultural. A Jew adopted by Italian parents and raised all his life as a devout Catholic isn't any less Jewish in my eyes, he is in fact the very definition of a tinoq shenishbah, he had no say in the matter.
There is a rule, stating that Jews, who converted into another religion because of whatever reason should be treated as non-Jews in almost any situation, until they return.
Wanted to mention, that recent progress in genetics makes us problems. For example, it becomes possible to find direct maternal-line descendants of Jews, who had converted hundreds of years ago, using mt-DNA. Although I generally agree that "Jewishness cannot be taken away that easily", I do not think that people who's ancestors were not part of Jewish community for many generations, should be considered Jews.


This would also apply to exiting "Jewishness" as a conversion to Christianity for example would mean accepting Jesus Christ and thus the supercessionist view. Israel to my knowledge forbids the right of return for those ethnic Jews who happened to convert to another religion whilst in exile.
Not exactly. Only those who are Jews by Halakha law do not have the right of return if they have a different religion. This means, that, for example, non-Jewish husband of a Jewish woman or son/dauther of Jewish father and non-Jewish mother can write any religion when they fill in the form in embassy to get repatiant's documents.
In Europe there were many cases when Jewish converts to Christianity became antisemitic themselves, to prove their new kin that they are loyal. That mostly happened before 20th century, but the attitude towards converts from Judaism has been wary since that time.
Now many people in Israel feel that current version of Law of return lets too many non-Jews in, and people with too little connection to Jews become Israely sitizens. Just two numbers - last year was the first one when non-Jews under Halakha law made more than 50% of people repatriated to Israel under Law of return. And second one - as I have calculated, 25% of all Israely Christians are non-Arabs, I have no doubt vast majority of them are Othodox Chrisitans of East Slavic descent, who came to Israel under Law of return.


The entry cannot be strictly biological when conversion is available to outside peoples.
There is an agreement between both secular and religious Israelies that conversion should be a path for the few.

What I can read here in this thread is that many people from US discuss the topic as if there was no state of Israel and Law of return.
But I guess this is somewhat important. Do not know about US, but for people of Jewish or partially Jewish heritage in East Europe it's very important to have an option to move to Israel.

As I have already mentioned before in our conversations, when religious decisions have political consequences, they are always taken into consideration, there is no other choice. The situation in Israel is that general public is ready to make conversion easier to father-line Jews and other people who got Israely sitizenship because of Law of return (and even some religious figures agree with this), but at the same time wants less immigration of non-Jews and strongly opposes mass conversion for non-Jews. Currently, when position of religious establishment and general public is the same, even many Orthodox conversions made in Diaspora are not recognized in state of Israel (and no chance that any Israely government will any time soon recognize any Reformist/Conservative conversion).
We need probably a more centralized religious organization to control and limit number of conversions, because current situation, when Diasporan and Israely organizations have different definitions of Jew is not that good. But number of conversions should stay limited, and we should remember about restriction (converts in any case should not be payed for conversion). This means people, who probably want to convert because this will let them move to Israel, should not be accepted.

Erikl86
08-04-2019, 09:43 AM
Since the activity in this thread has died out a little bit too quickly for my taste, I'll reveal one of the many things that bugs me with the Reform movement's definition of Jewishness... I am talking about the requirement of a Jewish upbringing. Normally, I would make no argument if we were talking about another culture, but this is Jewishness we are talking about.

Our greatest culture hero is Moshe Rabbeinu, at the very end of Dəvarim we read "lō qam naḇiˀ ˁōḏ beYiśraˀēl kəMōše̞h ˀăše̞r yəḏaˁū YHWH panim ˀe̞l panim". And yet this is a man who was abandoned as a child, adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, who grew up in the house of Pharaoh. The man who became our greatest leader was not raised as an Israelite. One could of course argue that this predated the giving of the law at Har Sinai, but still, I cannot help but think that what is applied to the most revered should also count for us and remain an example to be followed.

It seems to me as if the Reform movement decides to view the glass as half-empty so to speak. Jewishness as I understand it is not something that can be taken away so easily. In this I agree with the Orthodox, if you are halakhically-Jewish then there is no point discussing the finer details. Lack of knowledge and familiarity with Yahadut could perhaps make you a bad Jew, but certainly not a non-Jew. The entry is biological, so the exit cannot possibly be cultural. A Jew adopted by Italian parents and raised all his life as a devout Catholic isn't any less Jewish in my eyes, he is in fact the very definition of a tinoq shenishbah, he had no say in the matter.

In my opinion, looking at Jewishness in it's purely ethnic angle is problematic. Jews are, after all, an ethno-religious group, akin to Zoroastrians and Samaritans, and in many ways retain the old ways of what it meant to be a member of ancient ethnos (for example, back then, in order to be Greek, you'd have to follow the Greek gods, to be Egyptian you had to follow the Egyptian religion and so forth).

I think the Reform movement is doing some good work, which is mainly slowing down the disappearance of millions of American Jews in the last 100 years. After all, the vast majority of Jewish migrants to the US were Orthodox or non-religious from Eastern Europe, where the Reform movement barely had any holds back in the Old World. Nowadays, there are 5 million Jews, with most of them Reform and Conservative, and only about 1.5 million Orthodox Jews in the US - if it weren't for the Reform and Conservative movements, there would be ONLY 1.5 million Jews, period. The rest would have been assimilated and lost forever to the Jewish people.

I also think that the main issue that the Reform and Conservative movements have, is that we live in a very unique time for Judaism as a religion, and thus for Jews as a people (since we are an ethno-religious people). You see until the late 1970s, Reform Judaism was non-Zionist, and emphasized on Diaspora life. The thing is, turned out Zionism succeeded, and there are today millions of Jews living cultural meaningful Jewish lives in Israel, and in spite of Israel being an economically advanced country, the population here doesn't suffer from demographic stagnation - rather both religious and secular Jewish populations grow. It is not uncommon for many secular Jewish families here to have 3-4 kids. In the meantime, the demographics of Diaspora Jewish communities in dwindling - maybe as Jonahst correctly observed, Orthodox Jews do show demographic growth, but if you look at the majority of Jews, which are like in Israel - non-religious - then they barely have any kids.

As of today, since few years ago, Israel boast the largest Jewish community in the world. It won't be long - one or two generations from today - when Israel will also be the place where the vast majority of Jews would reside, and not because they'd all suddenly "see the light" and make Aliyah, but because of these demographic trends, which take decades to show any change, and currently they show none.

So the definition of who's a Jew, which was modeled and shaped by the existence of predominant Jewish Diaspora, and of what it means to be a Jew, is going to have to change.

IMO, Reform Judaism doesn't really offer rich Jewish life - it offers religious Jewish identity in secular American (or other Western, non-Jewish society) society. But it cannot survive for long, precisely because of the success of Zionism and the fact that Jews have a demographic future in Israel, and not so much in the States. I know it's a bit macabre notion I'm communicating here, but this is just how I see it. Of course, that doesn't mean that tomorrow morning all Jewish life in the US (sorry for emphasizing on American Jewry, its just currently the biggest one outside of Israel, and the best model for a prosperous Diaspora community in our times) will end and it also doesn't mean that Reform Judaism is failing - I just look at the big picture.

That also means that Orthodox Judaism will have to amend itself in a way. Because currently, in Israel, I as a secular Jew that doesn't even keep kosher and can't remember the last time I went to a synagogue, have no need for those religious practices in order to consider myself Jewish. I also don't need to worry about my son being assimilated and not having Jewish grandchildren (although he's not even 4 years old yet, so that's kind of putting the cart before the horses at the moment lol) - something that in the US, or in any other place in the Diaspora, won't be so obvious. This is why many secular Israelis, or many Israelis, now consider the ex-Soviet migrants which are not considered Jewish by the Halakha as part of the Jewish majority - they speak Hebrew, they serve in the army and are Zionists. So what if only their father is Jewish?

Essentially, these definitions, of what it means to be Jewish, will have to cope as Jewish life shifts from mainly being Diaspora life, to the fact that Jews have returned home (and that's it, I'm through with my Zionist propaganda for the day haha).

Shamash
08-04-2019, 10:23 AM
Yemenite Jews also share Y-DNA lineages with other Jews, my own for instance.

And with my own y-DNA lineage (FGC3723) as well :)

jetshop
08-04-2019, 12:00 PM
Essentially, these definitions, of what it means to be Jewish, will have to cope as Jewish life shifts from mainly being Diaspora life, to the fact that Jews have returned home (and that's it, I'm through with my Zionist propaganda for the day haha). The debate over definitions will also have to contend with the fact there are plenty of people in the world who would still consider Agamemnon's Jewish child raised Catholic (or an atheist patrilineal Jew from Russia) Jewish enough to hate and make life very difficult for, regardless of how those two individuals personally identify.

Agamemnon
08-04-2019, 12:31 PM
The entry cannot be strictly biological when conversion is available to outside peoples. I watched a rather interesting video recently about a Chinese man who converted to Orthodox Judaism, for example. You also have individuals of European descent without Jewish mothers who converted alongside the established Ethiopian, Latin American and Indian communities who live as recognized Jews. The very existence of such genetically diverse communities would strongly undermine your statement about the entry to "Jewishness" being biological. It appears in reality to be the exact opposite with the amalgamation of both religious and cultural factors being of most importance.

Well at first glance, yes, I can understand why you'd say that. However there are some stigmas associated with conversion, which are seldom brought up because Judaism has long ceased engaging in proselytism. There is an undeniably ethnic bent to Judaism, for example a convert may not marry a Kohen (the Rabbinate in Israel will not perform such unions for example). Other more obscure interpretations (loosely if ever applied) even state that convert can only marry other converts and/or mamzerim for 10 generations. In the past, the stigma of conversion was even more burdensome, back when Jewish life was centered around the Temple conversion was synonymous with de facto second class status in Jewish society (as I've said elsewhere, it took the destruction of this society at the hands of the Roman legions for Idumean, Iturean, Nabatean and Samaritan pedigress to be forgotten). The few sub-ethnic Jewish groups that owe most of their ancestry to converts appear to be in the minority, Yemenite Jews are one such group.

I could get into details here too, but what I am really trying to say is that Judaism is a religion quite unlike Christianity or Islam (even though both owe a lot to Judaism). While Jewishness is not strictly ethnic, it remains mostly ethnic and therefore biological in nature. As Jonasht said, the Haredi sector is in great shape demographically-speaking while Reform and Conservative communities are quickly fading, and intermarriage is but one of the issues here, the increasing disconnect of full Jews from the Jewish world is probably an even greater issue.

Some of this also has to do with how we define intermarriage. From a normative halakhic standpoint, this means the man marrying out. But a more recent and popular development, especially in Israel (and not only on the far-right as one would assume) takes the opposite view, which ironically-enough is also the Karaite view.


The debate over definitions will also have to contend with the fact there are plenty of people in the world who would still consider Agamemnon's Jewish child raised Catholic (or an atheist patrilineal Jew from Russia) Jewish enough to hate and make life very difficult for, regardless of how those two individuals personally identify.

Of course, but antisemites don't exactly care about halakhah. For the antisemite, everybody is Jewish while for the Rabbi, nobody truly is ;)

rms2
08-04-2019, 12:46 PM
DO NOT ANSWER IF YOU ARE NOT JEWISH*
. . .

Sorry! I did the stupid thing of answering the poll question before reading your instructions. I plead sleepiness in my defense.

You can see how I voted; just subtract one from that answer.

Oh, and you know my wife's family is ethnically Jewish. She has relatives in Tel Aviv; that's why this thread attracted my attention in the first place.

Agamemnon
08-04-2019, 12:48 PM
Sorry! I did the stupid thing of answering the poll question before reading your instructions. I plead sleepiness in my defense.

You can see how I voted; just subtract one from that answer.

That's OK, no need to remove the vote... How about a nice circumcision? :eyebrows:

rms2
08-04-2019, 12:49 PM
That's OK, no need to remove the vote... How about a nice circumcision? :eyebrows:

Already there. Back when I was born, circumcision was standard in U.S. hospitals.

Agamemnon
08-04-2019, 12:50 PM
Already there. Back when I was born, circumcision was standard in U.S. hospitals.

True that, I find it amazing how this practice has been regularised in the USA to be honest. Circumcision remains quite alien in Europe to be honest.

EDIT: I'd be interested in knowing the reason behind your choice though.

rms2
08-04-2019, 01:02 PM
My choice was purely personal. We know my wife's father's family was Jewish. We're less sure about her mother's family, although they have a Ukrainian surname (Sagalevich) that sounds like it could be (son of Sagal).

Anyway, in my wife's family they think of themselves as ancestrally Jewish, but they aren't observant religious Jews. Since right now the only Jewishness they know about solidly comes patrilineally, that's why I answered that it's complicated, i.e., requiring some explaining.

BTW, I was amazed how many Ashkenazi relatives my wife and youngest daughter - and now my wife's sister and niece - have on Family Finder. I kid them about it. Every time a Jewish person pops up on tv or in the news, I tell my wife to check Family Finder because he or she is probably there.

That's not too far off!

jetshop
08-04-2019, 01:19 PM
Some of this also has to do with how we define intermarriage. From a normative halakhic standpoint, this means the man marrying out. But a more recent and popular development, especially in Israel (and not only on the far-right as one would assume) takes the opposite view, which ironically-enough is also the Karaite view.Why are things are developing this way? I find that surprising, but I don't have a lot of insight into Israeli society.

Agamemnon
08-04-2019, 01:27 PM
Why are things are developing this way? I find that surprising, but I don't have a lot of insight into Israeli society.

A lot of this has to do with Arab-Jewish intermarriage being heavily frowned upon. In a vast majority of cases, the Jewish partner in such unions is a woman. Halakhically-speaking the offspring is technically Jewish, however this is extremely unpopular and very few Israelis are under the impression that such a person would not identify as an Arab. One of the Black September terrorists from Munich (Luttif Afif) was born to a Jewish mother for instance, the facts on the ground force Israelis to take a more realistic approach. Believe it or not, there's has been less protest over Tzachi HaLevy's marriage to Lucy Aharish (and the complaints here were made by high-profile individuals in Israeli politics and cultural life) than over the kind of intermarriage I've described above.

Erikl86
08-04-2019, 01:33 PM
Why are things are developing this way? I find that surprising, but I don't have a lot of insight into Israeli society.

Well because there are about 300-350,000 Ex-Soviet Jews, mainly of Ashkenazi origin, which are not Jewish according to the Jewish oral law aka Halakha - meaning their mother isn't Jewish.

Out of these ~300,000, the vast majority would be Jewish if you accept the patrilineal definition. They've also been labeled as such back in the USSR because in a European country, your ethnic association is usually defined patrilineally. They would also suffer from anti-Semtiism there based on their obviously Jewish surnames - like Burstein or Feldman or Friedman or Goldschmidt. A small minority of these ~300,000 only have one paternal Jewish grandparent, so they can't really be considered Jewish even patrilineally, but again, these are very few (I think no more than 100,000 top).

I have several good friends like that - they are culturally and ethnically identical to Israeli Jews (or ex-Soviet halakhic Jews), but the Israeli chief Rabbinate, which is Orthodox, doesn't recognize them as Jews.

Politically, as a population that suffered under socialism, they are mostly right-wing, like many other ex-Soviet Jews. This means, that there's a political motivation for the political right in Israel, even the far right, to sort their status. Considering these individuals aren't religious (like most ex-Soviet halakhic Jews), Orthodox conversion is pretty much off the table for most of them (and down right insulting for many, as they were considered Jews all their lives, but now here they aren't).

And, because in Israeli politics, the religious right wing is aligned with the secular right wing, that means that the non-Ultra Orthodox religious far right parties in Israel try to sort this out as well. Targum mentioned Amsalem before and the notion of "Zera Israel" זרע ישראל, although Amsalem is unique in that he's an Ultra-Orthodox right wing politician which supports such mitigation and appeasement. The demand by most Ultra-Orthodox groups, political or not (such as Shas or Yehadut HaTorah) is that these 300,000 ex-Soviet patrilineally Jewish people are not Jews, and should convert, period.

artemv
08-04-2019, 02:11 PM
In my opinion, looking at Jewishness in it's purely ethnic angle is problematic. Jews are, after all, an ethno-religious group, akin to Zoroastrians and Samaritans, and in many ways retain the old ways of what it meant to be a member of ancient ethnos (for example, back then, in order to be Greek, you'd have to follow the Greek gods, to be Egyptian you had to follow the Egyptian religion and so forth).

I guess in Eastern Europe, not just in Russia this is something quite common now. I guess majority would agree, that if you are Russian you need to associate yourself with Orthodox Christian religion. Although you do not need to be truely religious, wearing cross is enough. Just like secular Israely Jews, who consider it important to associate themselves with Judaism, but do not follow the restrictions.



I think the Reform movement is doing some good work, which is mainly slowing down the disappearance of millions of American Jews in the last 100 years. After all, the vast majority of Jewish migrants to the US were Orthodox or non-religious from Eastern Europe, where the Reform movement barely had any holds back in the Old World. Nowadays, there are 5 million Jews, with most of them Reform and Conservative, and only about 1.5 million Orthodox Jews in the US - if it weren't for the Reform and Conservative movements, there would be ONLY 1.5 million Jews, period. The rest would have been assimilated and lost forever to the Jewish people.

Not sure there would be just 1.5 million without Reformist Judaism. It's not that easy to forget about your ancestry.
I guess because the atmosphere in US local Jews prefered to call themselves Reformist, but not to declare themselves to be atheist.



As of today, since few years ago, Israel boast the largest Jewish community in the world. It won't be long - one or two generations from today - when Israel will also be the place where the vast majority of Jews would reside, and not because they'd all suddenly "see the light" and make Aliyah, but because of these demographic trends, which take decades to show any change, and currently they show none.
This is a linear extrapolation - you just continue current demographic trends into the future. This method usually works well in a short run, but almost never - in a long run. I do not think that current situation with demographics and immigration will stay the same for a long time in Europe/N.America. I can easily imagine scenarios that will drive significant part of European Jews to Israel. Do not want to think about events that could drive Israely Jews to Europe/N.America, but they are also possible. And this is without discussing current demographic trends, that can also change both in Europe/N.America and in Israel.



That also means that Orthodox Judaism will have to amend itself in a way. Because currently, in Israel, I as a secular Jew that doesn't even keep kosher and can't remember the last time I went to a synagogue, have no need for those religious practices in order to consider myself Jewish. I also don't need to worry about my son being assimilated and not having Jewish grandchildren (although he's not even 4 years old yet, so that's kind of putting the cart before the horses at the moment lol) - something that in the US, or in any other place in the Diaspora, won't be so obvious. This is why many secular Israelis, or many Israelis, now consider the ex-Soviet migrants which are not considered Jewish by the Halakha as part of the Jewish majority - they speak Hebrew, they serve in the army and are Zionists. So what if only their father is Jewish?

Essentially, these definitions, of what it means to be Jewish, will have to cope as Jewish life shifts from mainly being Diaspora life, to the fact that Jews have returned home (and that's it, I'm through with my Zionist propaganda for the day haha).
As well as current trends will likely change in Diaspora, they will likely change in Israel also.
Yes, we can see that secular Israely Jews become even less religious. But at the same time share of ultra-Orthodox and religious Jewish population will grow (as well as share of Bedoin Arabs), while non-Jews somewhat more often emigrate from Israel, comparing to Jews under halakha law. So, in Israel probably new staus-quo will emerge, but I am not that sure this new staus-quo is going to be more secular.

artemv
08-04-2019, 02:59 PM
Well because there are about 300-350,000 Ex-Soviet Jews, mainly of Ashkenazi origin, which are not Jewish according to the Jewish oral law aka Halakha - meaning their mother isn't Jewish.

Out of these ~300,000, the vast majority would be Jewish if you accept the patrilineal definition. They've also been labeled as such back in the USSR because in a European country, your ethnic association is usually defined patrilineally. They would also suffer from anti-Semtiism there based on their obviously Jewish surnames - like Burstein or Feldman or Friedman or Goldschmidt. A small minority of these ~300,000 only have one paternal Jewish grandparent, so they can't really be considered Jewish even patrilineally, but again, these are very few (I think no more than 100,000 top).


That's not quite correct, there was no patrilineal definition in former USSR. According to the law, parents could write in the documents either father's or mother's ethnic group. Usually, ethnic group of a parent, who is non-jewish was written. Ethnic group was mentioned in all Soviert documents. In 'internal passport', most important document, it was under 5th point, right after family name, given name, patronimic and birth date, that's why "formal ethnicity" was usually called "the fifth point".
When anti-semitic campaign in USSR started, communist goverment viewed Jews as mostly Zionist, unreliable people, who do not truely follow communist ideology and all secretly dream about emigration to Israel. You can imagine, that these policies could only increase number of Zionists. Generally, maternal or paternal Jews, who were written down as non-Jews in the documents were also targeted.


Here are a 2 political anecdotes about the situation under spoiler. One could get 10 years for telling anecdotes like that. Both are from 70-s.
1
Brezhnev asks his subordinate Suslov:
- How much Jews are there in the SU?
- Probably 2 or 3 millions.
- How much will emigrate if I allow?
- Probably, 20 or 30 millions...
2
One of large soviet factories is going to make an important contract with a Western company.
Its director is afraid that foreign representative might ask a question about antisemitism. All the Jews have already been fired from the factory, because of antisemitic campaign. So, director calls Ivanov and tells him:
- Ivanov, important persons from the West are going to visit us. They will probably ask us about antisemitism. To address this issue we will change your family name to Rabinovich and change your 5th point to Jewish, but I swear we will return everything after they leave.
- Not sure it's a good idea.
- I swear you, we will return everything as it was. Motherland needs your help!
- Ok.

So, delegation visits factory, they view all the production lines e.t.c., and after that all gather in director's cabinet. Finally, someone asks "Do you practice antisemitism on the factory?". Director calls secretary by internal phone line:
- Could you please ask Rabinovich to visit my cabinet? .... What does it mean emigrated???


Patrilinear definition in no way can increase number of Jews. There are enough Jews only by maternal-line. :)
Yes, I also think that out of 350 000 "persons unclassified by religion" about 100 000 are not patrilinear Jews.


My choice was purely personal. We know my wife's father's family was Jewish. We're less sure about her mother's family, although they have a Ukrainian surname (Sagalevich) that sounds like it could be (son of Sagal).


This family name is Jewish. Your wife's mother is also patrilineary Jewish.

rms2
08-04-2019, 04:25 PM
. . .

This family name is Jewish. Your wife's mother is also patrilineary Jewish.

Thanks. Figured as much. She is probably matrilineally Jewish, as well. Baba on that side was a Kaminskaya (Kaminsky).

I remember seeing an old Soviet document (not sure where it is right now - the wife packs stuff away, and then I can never find it again) that listed my wife's father as "Tat".

Wish he was still around for me to ask about it, but he passed away in 1995.

artemv
08-04-2019, 05:10 PM
Thanks. Figured as much. She is probably matrilineally Jewish, as well. Baba on that side was a Kaminskaya (Kaminsky).

I remember seeing an old Soviet document (not sure where it is right now - the wife packs stuff away, and then I can never find it again) that listed my wife's father as "Tat".

Wish he was still around for me to ask about it, but he passed away in 1995.

This is probably for another thread, but I will answer this time.
I am not so sure about Kaminskaya family name. She could be Jewish, but could be also Polish or even Belarus. Just family name is not enough here.

Now about "Tat".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_people_(Caucasus)
If you know for sure he was Jewish, then I guess he was from mountain Jews. He (or his parents) probably wrote Tat in his documents to hide his actual ancestry. Just 3 letters, "Тат"? Do you understand cyrillic and know for sure, that it refers to his ethnical background ("национальность").

StillWater
08-04-2019, 05:59 PM
Thanks. Figured as much. She is probably matrilineally Jewish, as well. Baba on that side was a Kaminskaya (Kaminsky).

I remember seeing an old Soviet document (not sure where it is right now - the wife packs stuff away, and then I can never find it again) that listed my wife's father as "Tat".

Wish he was still around for me to ask about it, but he passed away in 1995.

If Sagalovich isn't Jewish, I don't know what is. Also, I have cousins who are Kaminsky (Jewish). Here is what you should do to get an idea, at least statistically: see how many Jews vs non-Jews with that name* existed in her city of birth. Also, even if her first name and patrynomic don't sound Jewish, Jews still had a bias to certain names. You can pm me the name and I'll take a look. There is a world of difference between a Faina Lvovna Kaminskaya and an Oksana Ivanovna Kaminskaya, despite neither using Yiddish/Hebrew names. However, since it's a Kaminsky married to a Sagalovich, my bet is that the Kaminsky side is also Jewish.

important edit

StillWater
08-04-2019, 11:51 PM
More so, Sagalovich isn't just a Jewish surname, but a Levite one and most likely came from a Litvak - the aspect to be most proud of.

rms2
08-05-2019, 12:55 AM
This is probably for another thread, but I will answer this time.
I am not so sure about Kaminskaya family name. She could be Jewish, but could be also Polish or even Belarus. Just family name is not enough here.

Now about "Tat".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_people_(Caucasus)
If you know for sure he was Jewish, then I guess he was from mountain Jews. He (or his parents) probably wrote Tat in his documents to hide his actual ancestry. Just 3 letters, "Тат"? Do you understand cyrillic and know for sure, that it refers to his ethnical background ("национальность").

Yes. It's been a few years since I saw that document, but I read enough Russian to understand that. It was pretty sparing, without a lot of embellishment.

Yes, we know for sure he was Jewish. The surname is Margus, but my wife gets a lot of Family Finder matches who spell the name as Marcus.

I can't vouch for my wife's Kaminsky line. I think it was Polish in origin, but that hardly eliminates Jews, does it?

rms2
08-05-2019, 01:06 AM
If Sagalovich isn't Jewish, I don't know what is. Also, I have cousins who are Kaminsky (Jewish). Here is what you should do to get an idea, at least statistically: see how many Jews vs non-Jews with that name* existed in her city of birth. Also, even if her first name and patrynomic don't sound Jewish, Jews still had a bias to certain names. You can pm me the name and I'll take a look. There is a world of difference between a Faina Lvovna Kaminskaya and an Oksana Ivanovna Kaminskaya, despite neither using Yiddish/Hebrew names. However, since it's a Kaminsky married to a Sagalovich, my bet is that the Kaminsky side is also Jewish.

important edit

She was Ksenia Konstantinovna Kaminskaya, if that helps, born 1905 in Khotyn, Chernivitsi, Ukraine.

Here's a pic of the family, but Ksenia is not in this one.

32170

rms2
08-05-2019, 01:09 AM
Since I'm posting photos, here's my wife's dad's family, the definitely Jewish one.

Mikhail, on the far right, is my wife's father. He fought in the Red Army in WWII and was one of the men injured in the assault on Berlin. Most of the men in his unit were killed.

32171

Targum
08-05-2019, 01:09 AM
More so, Sagalovich isn't just a Jewish surname, but a Levite one and most likely came from a Litvak - the aspect to be most proud of.

Yes correct. The name Siegel in all its variations (Segal etc) is a Hebrew acronym סג״ל sg”l, for סגן לווייה segan-leviyah, assistant to the (Levite) high priest

StillWater
08-05-2019, 01:37 AM
She was Ksenia Konstantinovna Kaminskaya, if that helps, born 1905 in Khotyn, Chernivitsi, Ukraine.

Here's a pic of the family, but Ksenia is not in this one.

32170

The surname, as mentioned by Artem before, occurs among various ethnic groups, Jews being one of them. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky, for example. However, I don't think this Kaminsky family is Jewish. The name Ksenia was rare among Jews, though it did exist. Konstantine wasn't that uncommon. I'd be shocked if Donna Ivanovna turned out to be Jewish. Jews didn't use the name the Ivan. There are in fact numerous jokes about it. I assume Ksenia is the daughter of the man in the center. Also, the Konstantine in the center doesn't look Jewish, nor do those left of him. Of course, this alone isn't a reason to declare anything - my own ancestors varied from those who looked German to those who looked Saudi. From my vague recollection of surname patterns, Kaminsky shouldn't be common among Jews in Bessarabia, but more so in Belarus, Poland and other areas of Ukraine. In a picture from such a time period, one would normally see at least one Jewish name, although many were Russified around the time of the Revolution. Contrast it with the picture of the Jewish family you posted. You see a Rachel there. If one of the Konstantines is the other's son, that's further reason to think they're not Jewish. Ashkenazim don't name after the living. The family may have some Jewish roots, but as a whole, I very much doubt it's Jewish.

StillWater
08-05-2019, 01:43 AM
Yes correct. The name Siegel in all its variations (Segal etc) is a Hebrew acronym סג״ל sg”l, for סגן לווייה segan-leviyah, assistant to the (Levite) high priest

Those which are Sagal or Shagal are almost surely Litvak. One may remember a certain painter here.

Targum
08-05-2019, 01:45 AM
Those which are Sagal or Shagal are almost surely Litvak. One may remember a certain painter here.

It is found among all Ashkenazim including Litvaks of course. They are all סגן-לוויה

StillWater
08-05-2019, 01:47 AM
Yes. It's been a few years since I saw that document, but I read enough Russian to understand that. It was pretty sparing, without a lot of embellishment.

Yes, we know for sure he was Jewish. The surname is Margus, but my wife gets a lot of Family Finder matches who spell the name as Marcus.

I can't vouch for my wife's Kaminsky line. I think it was Polish in origin, but that hardly eliminates Jews, does it?

Margus may also be of the Margoliot Rabbinical line. It has been mangled into variations like Margesh and Margel, so Margus wouldn't surprise me as a variation.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10402-margaliot-margalioth

rms2
08-05-2019, 01:55 AM
The surname, as mentioned by Artem before, occurs among various ethnic groups, Jews being one of them. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky, for example. However, I don't think this Kaminsky family is Jewish. The name Ksenia was rare among Jews, though it did exist. Konstantine wasn't that uncommon. I'd be shocked if Donna Ivanovna turned out to be Jewish. Jews didn't use the name the Ivan. There are in fact numerous jokes about it. I assume Ksenia is the daughter of the man in the center. Also, the Konstantine in the center doesn't look Jewish, nor do those left of him. Of course, this alone isn't a reason to declare anything - my own ancestors varied from those who looked German to those who looked Saudi. From my vague recollection of surname patterns, Kaminsky shouldn't be common among Jews in Bessarabia, but more so in Belarus, Poland and other areas of Ukraine. In a picture from such a time period, one would normally see at least one Jewish name, although many were Russified around the time of the Revolution. Contrast it with the picture of the Jewish family you posted. You see a Rachel there. If one of the Konstantines is the other's son, that's further reason to think they're not Jewish. Ashkenazim don't name after the living. The family may have some Jewish roots, but as a whole, I very much doubt it's Jewish.

You may be right, but I think the tendency in my wife's family was to keep a low profile and blend in. Donna Ivanovna was the younger Konstantine's wife, so her name is not really reflective of what the Kaminskys did.

He's not a Kaminsky, but as an example of what I'm talking about, take my father-in-law's younger brother, Ilya, for example. As far as I know, he is still alive and living in Volzhsky, right across the Volga from Volgograd. I've tried to talk my wife into getting a sample from him so we can have his dna tested, especially his y-dna, but she won't even try. She says one of the reasons the old man is still alive is because he didn't advertise his ethnic origin. She says he's not about to change his ways now. He'll keep his dna to himself.

rms2
08-05-2019, 01:57 AM
Margus may also be of the Margoliot Rabbinical line. It has been mangled into variations like Margesh and Margel, so Margus wouldn't surprise me as a variation.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10402-margaliot-margalioth

I don't exactly remember where I got this information, but what I remember hearing is that the family had a number of well-known rabbinical scholars in it.

rms2
08-05-2019, 02:03 AM
I hope you all don't mind me butting in. I am far more interested in my wife's heritage than she is herself, and ever since I learned about it (what little I know) I've thought it was really cool.

Targum
08-05-2019, 02:06 AM
I hope you all don't mind me butting in. I am far more interested in my wife's heritage than she is herself, and ever since I learned about it (what little I know) I've thought it was really cool.
Your input and critique are welcome as far as I’m concerned.I seriously doubt anyone feels differently.

StillWater
08-05-2019, 03:23 AM
It is found among all Ashkenazim including Litvaks of course. They are all סגן-לוויה

I found a very partial collection from Beider's dictionaries, albeit in Russian. Although it seems we're on the same page, I'll post this for those interested:


Сигал (Житомир, распр. в Староконстантинове, Проскурове, Летичеве, Липовце, Бердичеве, Сквире) - происходит от Сегал - аббревиатуры от ивр. сган левия - член колена Леви.

Шагал (Городок, Велиж, Витебск, Орша) - происходит от Сегал - аббревиатуры от ивр. сган левия - член колена Леви.

Segal (Zhitomir, widespread in Ctarokonstantinov, Proskruv, Letichev, Lipovets, Berdichev, Skvira (there is a Chassidic group called Skver from this town - has a place in or near NY, called New Square))

Shagal (Gorodok, Velizh, Vitebsk, Orsha)

Definitions for them are of course the same - the one you stated. The towns listed for Segal seem to all be Ukrainian, though I haven't checked individually. And the towns listed for Shagal are all Litvak places; all are in Belarus, except for Velizh, which used to be in Belarus, but is now in Russia.

JMcB
08-05-2019, 03:34 AM
I found a very partial collection from Beider's dictionaries, albeit in Russian. Although it seems we're on the same page, I'll post this for those interested:



Segal (Zhitomir, widespread in Ctarokonstantinov, Proskruv, Letichev, Lipovets, Berdichev, Skvira (there is a Chassidic group called Skver from this town - has a place in or near NY, called New Square))

Shagal (Gorodok, Velizh, Vitebsk, Orsha)

Definitions for them are of course the same - the one you stated. The towns listed for Segal seem to all be Ukrainian, though I haven't checked individually. And the towns listed for Shagal are all Litvak places; all are in Belarus, except for Velizh, which used to be in Belarus, but is now in Russia.

Coincidentally, my friend and [former] cutter Simcha is from New Square.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Square,_New_York

artemv
08-05-2019, 07:22 AM
You may be right, but I think the tendency in my wife's family was to keep a low profile and blend in. Donna Ivanovna was the younger Konstantine's wife, so her name is not really reflective of what the Kaminskys did.

He's not a Kaminsky, but as an example of what I'm talking about, take my father-in-law's younger brother, Ilya, for example. As far as I know, he is still alive and living in Volzhsky, right across the Volga from Volgograd. I've tried to talk my wife into getting a sample from him so we can have his dna tested, especially his y-dna, but she won't even try. She says one of the reasons the old man is still alive is because he didn't advertise his ethnic origin. She says he's not about to change his ways now. He'll keep his dna to himself.

That's not relevant any more in Russia after SU collapse. Noone wil be agressive, people would be a bit curious about Jewish heritage and that's it. There are no antisemitic state policies now. Jewish heritage will be a problem for those who make career in secret services like FSB or GRU, but I guess he already retired, so there is very little chance to get problems because of Jewish ancestry.
But older people remember soviet times and will keep quiet.

I will agree with stillwater here, Kaminsky family on the photo doesn't look like Jewish. Margus family definitely looks.
This is both about Jewish-looking faces, about traditional Jewish names of old generation people, about Russian names of Jewish descent, used by younger generation people. Kaminsky family could be at maximum of a mixed Jewish-Slavic origin, but I am not even sure about that. Both Konstantines, Vitaly, woman behind Vitaly definitely look like non-Jews, and noone looks definitely Jewish.

So, I guess here we get back to the topic. As far as Kaminsky are probably non-Jews, it looks like both your wife and her mother are patrilinear Jews, but non-Jews after halakha law.

StillWater
08-05-2019, 08:40 AM
That's not relevant any more in Russia after SU collapse. Noone wil be agressive, people would be a bit curious about Jewish heritage and that's it. There are no antisemitic state policies now. Jewish heritage will be a problem for those who make career in secret services like FSB or GRU, but I guess he already retired, so there is very little chance to get problems because of Jewish ancestry.
But older people remember soviet times and will keep quiet.

I will agree with stillwater here, Kaminsky family on the photo doesn't look like Jewish. Margus family definitely looks.
This is both about Jewish-looking faces, about traditional Jewish names of old generation people, about Russian names of Jewish descent, used by younger generation people. Kaminsky family could be at maximum of a mixed Jewish-Slavic origin, but I am not even sure about that. Both Konstantines, Vitaly, woman behind Vitaly definitely look like non-Jews, and noone looks definitely Jewish.

So, I guess here we get back to the topic. As far as Kaminsky are probably non-Jews, it looks like both your wife and her mother are patrilinear Jews, but non-Jews after halakha law.

The younger Konstantine can pass as a Jew, but he wasn't that crucial to me answering the ultimate question.

Also, my impression of anti-Semitism in modern day Russia isn't the same as yours, but that could take up this whole thread. I certainly agree that it's not as bad as it was during Soviet times, though.

loxias
08-05-2019, 09:48 AM
There is a rule, stating that Jews, who converted into another religion because of whatever reason should be treated as non-Jews in almost any situation, until they return.

I was under the impression that, at least when it comes to Chabad, they should still be considered Jews (that still have their 'pintele yid' alive somewhere) and strongly encouraged to do t'shuva/return.

passenger
08-05-2019, 03:07 PM
I will agree with stillwater here, Kaminsky family on the photo doesn't look like Jewish. Margus family definitely looks.
This is both about Jewish-looking faces, about traditional Jewish names of old generation people, about Russian names of Jewish descent, used by younger generation people. Kaminsky family could be at maximum of a mixed Jewish-Slavic origin, but I am not even sure about that. Both Konstantines, Vitaly, woman behind Vitaly definitely look like non-Jews, and noone looks definitely Jewish.


Except Vitaly is very frequently a Jewish first name, often used as an alternate for Chaim. It's very common among Eastern Sephardim and I've also seen it used by Russian Jews. Is it also used by Christians in Russia?

Agamemnon
08-05-2019, 03:22 PM
The younger Konstantine can pass as a Jew, but he wasn't that crucial to me answering the ultimate question.

Also, my impression of anti-Semitism in modern day Russia isn't the same as yours, but that could take up this whole thread. I certainly agree that it's not as bad as it was during Soviet times, though.

Second that.

artemv
08-05-2019, 06:27 PM
Also, my impression of anti-Semitism in modern day Russia isn't the same as yours, but that could take up this whole thread. I certainly agree that it's not as bad as it was during Soviet times, though.
I lived in post-soviet Moscow all my life until recently moved to Israel.
I've seen reaction of my colleagues, when I told then that I'm going to leave Russia for Israel. By the way, two guys from another department told me that they also have some Jewish ancestry.
I know, many people who lived in USSR would not believe this. I've heart about Ukrainians being hardly antisemitic, and I've heart it from people who themselves lived in Ukraine before USSR collapse. But now they've elected a person with definite Jewish ancestry as a president. And during election campaign this fact was not even an important part of discussion. Something similar for Russia - a number of persons with definitely Jewish family names were elected when there were elections in Russia.

I guess there are more than a million people in Moscow who will qualify for the law of return. Mostly having just 1 Jewish grandparent, spouses of such people, their kids. But there are too many people with some Jewish ancestry. And definitely majority has at least some non East Slavic ancestry. So, ideas of "nationalism" as it is understood in Russia could not be popular in Moscow, because each time some person is attacked because of non-Slavic ancestry too many people around will remember about their non-Slavic ancestors.
There are some tentions with Muslems, who now migrate to Moscow from Caucasus or Middle Asia Republics, but most Russians would prefer not to talk about it.
I guess vast majority of anti-semites in today's Moscow are Muslems.


Except Vitaly is very frequently a Jewish first name, often used as an alternate for Chaim. It's very common among Eastern Sephardim and I've also seen it used by Russian Jews. Is it also used by Christians in Russia?

Yes, this is mostly Christian name. I met several non-Jewish people with this name, and only 1 Jewish.
I'd say now in Russia Jews only use names that are common among Russian Christian majority. The only possible exception could be a few people who returned to Jewish religious practive after it became legal. So, there are religious-Othodox Jews, who would probably give their kids one of traditional Jewish names, but they make a tiny small minority. Others will probably give some Christian name of Jewish origin (like Semion, Illya, Michael) or just a regular Christian name to their taste.

Targum
08-05-2019, 06:54 PM
I lived in post-soviet Moscow all my life until recently moved to Israel.
I've seen reaction of my colleagues, when I told then that I'm going to leave Russia for Israel. By the way, two guys from another department told me that they also have some Jewish ancestry.
I know, many people who lived in USSR would not believe this. I've heart about Ukrainians being hardly antisemitic, and I've heart it from people who themselves lived in Ukraine before USSR collapse. But now they've elected a person with definite Jewish ancestry as a president. And during election campaign this fact was not even an important part of discussion. Something similar for Russia - a number of persons with definitely Jewish family names were elected when there were elections in Russia.

I guess there are more than a million people in Moscow who will qualify for the law of return. Mostly having just 1 Jewish grandparent, spouses of such people, their kids. But there are too many people with some Jewish ancestry. And definitely majority has at least some non East Slavic ancestry. So, ideas of "nationalism" as it is understood in Russia could not be popular in Moscow, because each time some person is attacked because of non-Slavic ancestry too many people around will remember about their non-Slavic ancestors.
There are some tentions with Muslems, who now migrate to Moscow from Caucasus or Middle Asia Republics, but most Russians would prefer not to talk about it.
I guess vast majority of anti-semites in today's Moscow are Muslems.



Yes, this is mostly Christian name. I met several non-Jewish people with this name, and only 1 Jewish.
I'd say now in Russia Jews only use names that are common among Russian Christian majority. The only possible exception could be a few people who returned to Jewish religious practive after it became legal. So, there are religious-Othodox Jews, who would probably give their kids one of traditional Jewish names, but they make a tiny small minority. Others will probably give some Christian name of Jewish origin (like Semion, Illya, Michael) or just a regular Christian name to their taste.

One of the periods I lived in Israel was the later 70's, and I got to know and love the FSU 'olim (immigrants) from those days. For the most part, they were way more knowledgeable about Judaism, Jewish Culture, history, etc, than the Soviet norm. these were folks from the then intact USSR, and came from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, etc. They included Ashkenazim as well as the specific Sovietized Mizrahhim, Georgian, Mountain, and Bukharan Jews (and a few Krymchaks, or Krymchak/Ashkenaz blends). There as yet was not a developed "Russian" subculture in Israel, so we all together tried to learn how to fit into mainstream ("modified-Levantine") Israel. Later on, when I worked for the Ministry of Justice in the later 1980's, I saw many well integrated FSU people, including many who had married Sefaradi and Mizrahhi native Israeli partners. Now, today, in my wife's family, there are several children and grandchildren of FSU Jews married in (who doesn't love the Yemenites lol)

StillWater
08-05-2019, 07:23 PM
Except Vitaly is very frequently a Jewish first name, often used as an alternate for Chaim. It's very common among Eastern Sephardim and I've also seen it used by Russian Jews. Is it also used by Christians in Russia?

Vitaly was used by both Jews and Russians, with the former normally using it in place of Chaim.

jonahst
08-05-2019, 07:32 PM
I lived in post-soviet Moscow all my life until recently moved to Israel.
I've seen reaction of my colleagues, when I told then that I'm going to leave Russia for Israel. By the way, two guys from another department told me that they also have some Jewish ancestry.
I know, many people who lived in USSR would not believe this. I've heart about Ukrainians being hardly antisemitic, and I've heart it from people who themselves lived in Ukraine before USSR collapse. But now they've elected a person with definite Jewish ancestry as a president. And during election campaign this fact was not even an important part of discussion. Something similar for Russia - a number of persons with definitely Jewish family names were elected when there were elections in Russia.

I guess there are more than a million people in Moscow who will qualify for the law of return. Mostly having just 1 Jewish grandparent, spouses of such people, their kids. But there are too many people with some Jewish ancestry. And definitely majority has at least some non East Slavic ancestry. So, ideas of "nationalism" as it is understood in Russia could not be popular in Moscow, because each time some person is attacked because of non-Slavic ancestry too many people around will remember about their non-Slavic ancestors.
There are some tentions with Muslems, who now migrate to Moscow from Caucasus or Middle Asia Republics, but most Russians would prefer not to talk about it.
I guess vast majority of anti-semites in today's Moscow are Muslems.



Yes, this is mostly Christian name. I met several non-Jewish people with this name, and only 1 Jewish.
I'd say now in Russia Jews only use names that are common among Russian Christian majority. The only possible exception could be a few people who returned to Jewish religious practive after it became legal. So, there are religious-Othodox Jews, who would probably give their kids one of traditional Jewish names, but they make a tiny small minority. Others will probably give some Christian name of Jewish origin (like Semion, Illya, Michael) or just a regular Christian name to their taste.

I've heard some pretty horrific things from Ukrainian Jews who left in the early 90s.

Also, a million qualified under Law of Return in Moscow sounds like an overestimation. Sergio DellaPergola estimates the Law of Return population for the entire FSU in Europe to be 814,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_population_by_country?wprov=sfla1

(First reference in the article has the data.)

hartaisarlag
08-05-2019, 08:13 PM
Vitaly was used by both Jews and Russians, with the former normally using it in place of Chaim.

Ironic, because from what I remember reading, Chaim as a popular name is a Western Jewish innovation, as translation of Vito/Vivus.

StillWater
08-05-2019, 08:33 PM
I lived in post-soviet Moscow all my life until recently moved to Israel.
I've seen reaction of my colleagues, when I told then that I'm going to leave Russia for Israel. By the way, two guys from another department told me that they also have some Jewish ancestry.
I know, many people who lived in USSR would not believe this. I've heart about Ukrainians being hardly antisemitic, and I've heart it from people who themselves lived in Ukraine before USSR collapse. But now they've elected a person with definite Jewish ancestry as a president. And during election campaign this fact was not even an important part of discussion. Something similar for Russia - a number of persons with definitely Jewish family names were elected when there were elections in Russia.

I guess there are more than a million people in Moscow who will qualify for the law of return. Mostly having just 1 Jewish grandparent, spouses of such people, their kids. But there are too many people with some Jewish ancestry. And definitely majority has at least some non East Slavic ancestry. So, ideas of "nationalism" as it is understood in Russia could not be popular in Moscow, because each time some person is attacked because of non-Slavic ancestry too many people around will remember about their non-Slavic ancestors.
There are some tentions with Muslems, who now migrate to Moscow from Caucasus or Middle Asia Republics, but most Russians would prefer not to talk about it.
I guess vast majority of anti-semites in today's Moscow are Muslems.

I'm willing to take this conversation to PMs. However, as for the thread, it needs to be pointed out that one's experience with any type of bigotry, anywhere, will depend on how identifiable they are and how good others are at identifying them. The relevant phenomenon that has occurred in Russia is that the few Jews who are left, are the least identifiable ones. And because few are left, society has gotten worse at identifying them. I recently heard a Russian firmly declare that a more Jewish looking version of Jonah Hill didn't look Jewish at all. Now, the self selection among the Jews who have remained has been noted by all my Soviet Jewish friends. The reason for this is intuitive: those who are the most identifiable, get the most shit, and hence leave first. I've seen this rule apply within my own family.

Also, it was only around the late 90's and early 2000's when it simply wasn't safe to walk the streets of Moscow as a visible Jew. Of course, I'm referring to the skinhead phenomenon, which was massive at the time. While you'll tell me they were primarily motivated to attack those from the Caucasus and Central Asia, we both know what happened to visible Jews.

Putin has propagated the myth that the first Soviet government was largely Jewish and when Nemtsov was assassinated, he revealed Nemtsov's Jewish background, as was done in Soviet times, to bank on anti-Semitic sentiment. Wasn't it less than 2 years ago when the Russian Orthodox Church, with the cooperation of the Russian government, sought to investigate whether the assassination of the Tsar and his family was a Jewish ritual murder? I didn't follow the story through to whatever its eventual conclusion was, but:


Marina Molodtsova, a senior investigator at the Investigative Committee, a Russian equivalent of the FBI, told the conference that a commission examining the death would conduct a "psychological-historical examination" to check the claims of a ritual murder.

source: https://www.rferl.org/a/tsar-nicholas-ritual-killing-jews-anti-semitism/28884466.html


As for individual experience, I rather take that to PMs. Also, I don't wish to paint Russia with a broad brush here. The situation there certainly has improved and probably is still improving. I doubt the average late-millennial is anti-Semitic there.

sources for my claims:

1. Putin and the 1st Soviet Gov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pDtgWUtdUM
2. Claim regarding Nemtsov: http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1425728348 (You may not like the source, but the argument is really dry and clear-cut)

artemv
08-05-2019, 09:12 PM
I've heard some pretty horrific things from Ukrainian Jews who left in the early 90s.

I guess that was the result of a state anti-semite campaign. When state encourages hatred towards some group, there will always emerge "enthusiasts", probably sadistic by nature, passionate to push someone, who cannot push back. While most people from majority will keep silent, because they do not want to get problems for themselves and do not care so much for "others".
After state campaign ends, everything changes quite fast. Those who just a few years ago pushed aggressively, would now prefer not just to keep silence, but even to speak something quite opposite to their recent actions. As far as everything is ok for majority, those who were opressed yesterday, get a chance get to high positions, if they are skilled enough.
You can see that story of current Ukrainian president is not a fantasy, that's a fact. As well as high number of other Jews who got elected both in Russia and Ukraine.

This works quite well other way. The situation of some sort of peace between ethnical/religious groups can turn into bloody bath much faster than one can sell his house/appartments and apply for a visa. History of USSR collapse is a very interesting case for study, as we can see how quickly some conflicts, that were barely seen just recently, became violent.
That is why, for example, in one of my previous posts in this thread I said it could easily happen that European Jews will be pushed to Israel.



Also, a million qualified under Law of Return in Moscow sounds like an overestimation. Sergio DellaPergola estimates the Law of Return population for the entire FSU in Europe to be 814,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_population_by_country?wprov=sfla1

(First reference in the article has the data.)

Briefly scrolled his report, but could not find his methods (maybe I missed something).
I guess there are enough people, like those colleagues who told me about Jewish ancestry, one of my classmates e.t.c. and a number of other people I met, will always stay under the radar for any statistican or researcher, as they themselves and their parents have typical Russian family names and will always answer they identify with ethnically Russians and even sometimes declare Christian faith.
But it can happen that in some cases many of them will deside to move to Israel.

Agamemnon
08-05-2019, 09:24 PM
That is why, for example, in one of my previous posts in this thread I said it could easily happen that European Jews will be pushed to Israel.

It's already happening silently.

jonahst
08-05-2019, 09:27 PM
I guess that was the result of a state anti-semite campaign. When state encourages hatred towards some group, there will always emerge "enthusiasts", probably sadistic by nature, passionate to push someone, who cannot push back. While most people from majority will keep silent, because they do not want to get problems for themselves and do not care so much for "others".
After state campaign ends, everything changes quite fast. Those who just a few years ago pushed aggressively, would now prefer not just to keep silence, but even to speak something quite opposite to their recent actions. As far as everything is ok for majority, those who were opressed yesterday, get a chance get to high positions, if they are skilled enough.
You can see that story of current Ukrainian president is not a fantasy, that's a fact. As well as high number of other Jews who got elected both in Russia and Ukraine.

This works quite well other way. The situation of some sort of peace between ethnical/religious groups can turn into bloody bath much faster than one can sell his house/appartments and apply for a visa. History of USSR collapse is a very interesting case for study, as we can see how quickly some conflicts, that were barely seen just recently, became violent.
That is why, for example, in one of my previous posts in this thread I said it could easily happen that European Jews will be pushed to Israel.



Briefly scrolled his report, but could not find his methods (maybe I missed something).
I guess there are enough people, like those colleagues who told me about Jewish ancestry, one of my classmates e.t.c. and a number of other people I met, will always stay under the radar for any statistican or researcher, as they themselves and their parents have typical Russian family names and will always answer they identify with ethnically Russians and even sometimes declare Christian faith.
But it can happen that in some cases many of them will deside to move to Israel.

He describes his definitions and sources in the beginning, but I don't necessarily know his specific methods. He is one of the top authorities on Jewish demographics in the world, so I would trust his estimates, though he does note the difficulty in coming up with numbers. Either way, though, I doubt the number in Russia as a whole comes anywhere near a million, let alone in Moscow alone.

artemv
08-06-2019, 12:00 AM
That's not my case, I am easily recognized as a Jew. People usually first of all look at black curly hair.
Probably in winter, when in hat and warm clothes someone could mix...



As for individual experience, I rather take that to PMs. Also, I don't wish to paint Russia with a broad brush here. The situation there certainly has improved and probably is still improving. I doubt the average late-millennial is anti-Semitic there.

sources for my claims:

1. Putin and the 1st Soviet Gov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pDtgWUtdUM
2. Claim regarding Nemtsov: http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1425728348 (You may not like the source, but the argument is really dry and clear-cut)
I understand that you want to take conversation to PMs, but you said this in public and I want to reply in public.

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_members_of_the_Politburo_of_the_Communist _Party_of_the_Soviet_Union
This is the group of people who took the most important decisions and actually governed the country. You can see that in the early Soviet years Jews even sometimes made a majority there (yes, later almost all of them were executed/assasinated).
Putin actually wanted to say that he is more nice to Jews than Jews themselves, who nationalized the Shneerson's library.
2. That was official Putin's message about Nemtsov's assasination: "Crazy Muslem killed a Jew for saying something that he felt is offensive towards Muslem religion. Of course, this is a crime, and the one who broke the law will be punished. So, as you can see, that wasn't me, who killed Nemtsov". He pointed at Nemtsov's Jewish ancestry, because he considered that it supports his version. (Hope, you will not think I believe this version).

Putin is not anti-semitic and is not pushing this sort of adgenda (at least until now). There are a number of Jews among his closest friends, who got billions just for being a Putin's friend.

There was (and there is) some protest against mass migration among Russians, just like the same protest exists in Europe. But those scinheads were always a marginal movement. Putin's propaganda exxagregated their real influence and numbers, because he wanted to portray himself as someone protecting minorities (at a time when he closed one after another independent TV channels). Do not doubt, that a group of scinheads attacking people at the street in a daylight would very soon end behind the bars. Even at the end of 90-s, when crime levels were higher.

I understand that people, who experienced anti-semitism will be sensitive towards anything that seems to be somewhat like it, this cannot be different.
I insist, that at the moment antisemitism is a more serious problem in West Europe comparing to Russia/Ukraine, although leaders of West European countries are more accurate with words.
At the same time, I want to say that I am not sure that antisemitism in Russia will not go up and become a problem one day, again.

StillWater
08-06-2019, 01:06 AM
That's not my case, I am easily recognized as a Jew. People usually first of all look at black curly hair.
Probably in winter, when in hat and warm clothes someone could mix...


I understand that you want to take conversation to PMs, but you said this in public and I want to reply in public.



Yes, for stuff to do with personal experience, I rather go to PMs.


1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_members_of_the_Politburo_of_the_Communist _Party_of_the_Soviet_Union
This is the group of people who took the most important decisions and actually governed the country. You can see that in the early Soviet years Jews even sometimes made a majority there (yes, later almost all of them were executed/assasinated).
Putin actually wanted to say that he is more nice to Jews than Jews themselves, who nationalized the Shneerson's library.
2. That was official Putin's message about Nemtsov's assasination: "Crazy Muslem killed a Jew for saying something that he felt is offensive towards Muslem religion. Of course, this is a crime, and the one who broke the law will be punished. So, as you can see, that wasn't me, who killed Nemtsov". He pointed at Nemtsov's Jewish ancestry, because he considered that it supports his version. (Hope, you will not think I believe this version).

Putin is not anti-semitic and is not pushing this sort of adgenda (at least until now). There are a number of Jews among his closest friends, who got billions just for being a Putin's friend.


1. This is the first Soviet government and what Putin was referring to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_People%27s_Commissars
There are 1.25 Jews there (Trotsky + Lenin). What Putin says about Schneerson's books is as much propaganda as anything else. Placing them in a local museum doesn't in effect de-nationalize them. He knows that no one cares about those books but Lubavitch and is only keeping them in the country to maintain an iron image.
2. What does this have to do with him going out of his way to indirectly point out that Nemtsov is a Jew by addressing his mother by her more Jewish sounding maiden name, one she was never known by publicly? Her addressed the whole statement to her, meanwhile Nemtsov had a wife and children. If Putin wanted to bring up Nemtsov's Jewish ancestry to support the "crazy Muslim" narrative, he could've mentioned it directly.


There was (and there is) some protest against mass migration among Russians, just like the same protest exists in Europe. But those scinheads were always a marginal movement. Putin's propaganda exxagregated their real influence and numbers, because he wanted to portray himself as someone protecting minorities (at a time when he closed one after another independent TV channels). Do not doubt, that a group of scinheads attacking people at the street in a daylight would very soon end behind the bars. Even at the end of 90-s, when crime levels were higher.


The skinhead problem was a major one. Putin's propaganda? My friend, I have family there, which is something I really preferred to mention in PMs instead. They were seen outside on a daily basis. Every school had some. The US embassy used to warn its citizens about it, as did the UK. As for the cops, the Moscow Police Chief denied skinheads existed in Moscow. (https://www.economist.com/europe/2005/02/17/the-new-jews). Consistent with that, those skinheads used to brag that many policemen were on their side.

edit: I recognize that the police chief would have had other motives to deny their existence, such as international image. The point is that they weren't dealt with seriously for a while.

artemv
08-06-2019, 09:54 AM
Yes, for stuff to do with personal experience, I rather go to PMs.
You explain what was the life of a Moscow Jew in 90-s to a Jew, who lived in Moscow.
Who for some time visited Jewish organizations and communicated with other Jews.
I have not met a Jew who was beaten for being Jewish.
I have black curly hair and I am easily recognized as Jewish, or at least, non Slavic.



1. This is the first Soviet government and what Putin was referring to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_People%27s_Commissars
There are 1.25 Jews there (Trotsky + Lenin). What Putin says about Schneerson's books is as much propaganda as anything else. Placing them in a local museum doesn't in effect de-nationalize them. He knows that no one cares about those books but Lubavitch and is only keeping them in the country to maintain an iron image.
You lived in USSR, you know that party's politbureau had much more power than formal government. Most important decisions, like appointment of commissars where taken by politbureau.
Stalin took just a minor position of People's Commissar of Nationalities (this means responsible for affairs connected to ethnical minorities).
He managed to get to power because we was one of politbureau members, this was far more important.
Even if Putin was not that accurate with terms, that's true that first years after revolution a number of Jews for the first time in Russian history got to positions very high on top.
If Putin was truely antisemitic, we would have known this already, without any doubt.
I agree, Putin "doesn't in effect de-nationalize them", I never said he does.

My point is:
A: There is no sort of antisemitic campaign inspired by government in Russia or personaly Putin now or any time during Putin's reign.
B: There is no popular push towards return of Soviet Era antisemitic policies.
C: There is no such thing as a demand to be "politically correct", Russians can in many situations say things that would sound terrible for those who are used to political correctness. In almost all cases that doesn't mean actual threat.
D: Western style political correctness doesn't in fact make Jews safe. Generally, it can hide problems, but not fix them.
E: There is very little actual risk to get beaten because people know you are a Jew in modern Russia (do not know quite well about some North Caucasus regions).



2. What does this have to do with him going out of his way to indirectly point out that Nemtsov is a Jew by addressing his mother by her more Jewish sounding maiden name, one she was never known by publicly? Her addressed the whole statement to her, meanwhile Nemtsov had a wife and children. If Putin wanted to bring up Nemtsov's Jewish ancestry to support the "crazy Muslim" narrative, he could've mentioned it directly.
Always thought that Nemtsov was actually divorsed, but Russian wikipedia says he split with his wife without a formal divorse. Any way he was having a walk with his Ukrainian girlfriend when he was killed, it would be strange to address wife.
Putin prefered to point out indirectly.
Listen. Putin can arrest a number of Jews, who are responsible for highly unpopular Yeltsin's Era politics (first of all, of course, Chubais) and point out that they did this, because they do not care about the country. He can arrest Jewish billionairs, nationalize their companies and paint them as traitors using his puppet media. Putin can, even without making it public, easily fire all the Jews from high positions. He can easily push Jewish religious organizations or Jewish Zionist organizations. He can start a public campaign against dual Russian-Israel citizenship holders.
This addressing Nemtsov's mother by her Jewish maiden family name is one of Putin-style propaganda maneuvers.
I understand that experience of Soviet Era state anti-semitism unformal policies makes Jews sensible to such episodes, but this wasn't start of public antisemitic campaign, and could not be result of some secret antisemitic fears of Putin. No doubt, Nemtsov didn't die because he was a Jew (but because he tried to convince American congressmen to impose more sanctions on Russia).



The skinhead problem was a major one. Putin's propaganda? My friend, I have family there, which is something I really preferred to mention in PMs instead. They were seen outside on a daily basis. Every school had some. The US embassy used to warn its citizens about it, as did the UK. As for the cops, the Moscow Police Chief denied skinheads existed in Moscow. (https://www.economist.com/europe/2005/02/17/the-new-jews). Consistent with that, those skinheads used to brag that many policemen were on their side.

edit: I recognize that the police chief would have had other motives to deny their existence, such as international image. The point is that they weren't dealt with seriously for a while.
I do not say that the Jews where not scared by those skinheads.
But that was a rare case to get real problems.

About "police on their side". This was actually the way how they were dealt with in Putin's time. Each policeman needs a good statistics of solved cases. The easiest way to make good statistics was to get some teenager with shaved head to police, tell him one-on-one that he can and even should attack immigrants, and he will be covered up. The teenage would probably boast to his mates about police being on his side, but he would be arrested after the first attack on immigrant in the neighborhood, and responsible policemen would get a case of a hard crime solved easily. Yes, the punishment would be serious.
In Yeltsin's time police would have probably dealt with cases of ethnically motivated violence like if there was no ethnical reason behind this.

StillWater
08-06-2019, 10:19 AM
Hey mods: I'd like to reply to Artem and have my reply deleted after. What are my options?

Dorkymon
08-06-2019, 10:26 AM
Hey mods: I'd like to reply to Artem and have my reply deleted after. What are my options?

Not a mod, but your options are private messaging.

Erikl86
08-06-2019, 12:15 PM
Not a mod, but your options are private messaging.

I would hit the "Thanks" option twice if it was possible ...

Tz85
08-06-2019, 10:22 PM
I voted Yes. While I respect the traditions of Judaism, our Torah is patriarchal. If your father is a Jew, you are a Jew. If your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew.

Tz85
08-06-2019, 10:26 PM
I would to also add, my maternal line is Jewish, while my fathers direct line is clearly Egyptian, with no concrete proof of assimilation. So NO bias here.

Webb
08-06-2019, 11:00 PM
What are the thoughts on the Youtai of Kaifeng, China? I have been to the Synagogue, not inside of course. My wife is Hui, Muslim, from Kaifeng and her parents house is about a five minute walk to the Synagogue. Does the rest of the Jewish community outside of China recognize them as Jewish?

icebreaker
08-06-2019, 11:15 PM
Jawohl, y-dna is an excellent source for tracing your origin. better than mtdna, less reliable than autosomal dna tho.

Paternal line determines your origin in most cultures. when I first heard that the jews attached more importance to matrilineality, I wondered if the Jewish men did not trust their females (did the postman or milkman came over very often?). or maybe it was assumed that the men would die during the war(s) and the faith could only survive through the women..

mildlycurly
08-07-2019, 01:03 PM
Yes. Despite what the Orthodox claim, the definition of "who is a Jew?" is fluid and always has been.

Take Adam Levine. He was raised Jewish by his parents, but his maternal grandmother was Christian. He's 3/4 Jewish and identifies as Jewish, yet the Orthodox would say "sorry, you're not a Jew". There are a lot of kids being raised Reform who are shocked when they find out that the Orthodox wouldn't consider them Jewish because their mother has to be by their rules. How can they not be Jewish when they were raised Jewish and had all the proper rites such as bar/bat mitzvah? The Karaites have always considered Jews to be Jews through the direct paternal line. Even some Orthodox rabbis relax conversion requirements for patrilineal Jews.

I believe in the end self-definition outweighs traditional religious law in this day and age. There are people in Spain and Latin America whose last fully Jewish ancestors died in the 1500s yet identify as Jewish brcause they've reclaimed this identity. Similarly, I come from a family who could best be described as "Ashkenazi crypto-Jews". Even after outward practice ended, certain practices remained. My father is fully Jewish by Orthodox law due to his maternal line. I guess you could say I'm half-Jewish as a result (the other half is Irish Catholic, so I have a good background for the mystical :) ).

Targum
08-07-2019, 02:05 PM
Great thread; however; everyone; let’s not overthink this: there are two separate interrelated definitions:
1) Ethnic Jews identified both by self and others, of course including children of Jewish fathers;
2) Halakhic Jews

Everyone should accept category #1 as Jews, period.
Halakhah, however, is a living dynamic corpus of literature and thought, which is not going to disappear or lose its vitality.
Those Jews from category #1 who become concerned or cognizant of category #2, i.e. they want to marry in Israel, have to undergo a recognized giyur. If they don’t they’re still Jews but the halakhic gateway will always be there if they wish to enter it.

rms2
08-07-2019, 02:44 PM
I know nothing of Halakhah, but I want to mention something that I find somewhat baffling about the idea of matrilineal descent as a requirement in Judaism.

Here it is. Anyone who has read the Old Testament, as I have, more than once (but in English translation, not in the original languages), instantly recognizes that ancient Israel was a distinctly patriarchal, pastoral culture. The central and constant references are to the ancient fathers, the "patriarchs", Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so on. There are heroic female figures, as well, but they are nowhere near as prominent in the narrative as the fathers are.

So, a matrilineal requirement seems a discordant note in the Jewish tradition. Just my impression.

Note: I just noticed that Tz85 kind of beat me to the mention of this up in post #104. Great minds run together, I guess. ;)

Targum
08-07-2019, 03:29 PM
I know nothing of Halakhah, but I want to mention something that I find somewhat baffling about the idea of matrilineal descent as a requirement in Judaism.

Here it is. Anyone who has read the Old Testament, as I have, more than once (but in English translation, not in the original languages), instantly recognizes that ancient Israel was a distinctly patriarchal, pastoral culture. The central and constant references are to the ancient fathers, the "patriarchs", Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so on. There are heroic female figures, as well, but they are nowhere near as prominent in the narrative as the fathers are.

So, a matrilineal requirement seems a discordant note in the Jewish tradition. Just my impression.

Note: I just noticed that Tz85 kind of beat me to the mention of this up in post #104. Great minds run together, I guess. ;)

Great question; typical of Christians who are familiar with Written Torah (translated) but are not familiar with Oral Torah. Judaism is based on the traditional received wisdom of the dual Torah, Written and Oral. When Moshe Rabenu (Moses Our Teacher) received the Torah on Sinai, tradition says he received this dual system of the written scriptures on the one hand,and an orally-transmitted system to decode and implement the Torah on the other. Written Torah, right out of the blocks, lacks certain explanations. Two classic examples (thanks to R' Sa'adiah Gaon Iraq 9th century): 1) Torah says kosher slaughter ' as I will show you" but written Torah never revisits subject of how-to. Nevertheless; all Jews, from Yemen to Spain to Poland followed same rules and understand kosher slaughter, from the same Oral Torah tradition 2) "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth etc." so horrifying to well-meaning Christians. Lol It never meant physical mutilation! Oral Torah from ancient times always understood that it was monetary compensation: the value of an eye for the value of an eye, the value of a tooth for the value of a tooth etc. Another example is chicken treated as meat; that is not clear from written Torah but is clarified in Oral Torah; so Jews don't eat chicken parmesan just like they don't eat a cheeseburger. Jews fast to commemorate the translation of the Written Torah, feeling it led to misuse of a Written Torah which, without the Oral Torah given exclusively to the Jews, cannot be understood. It is the Oral Torah which dictates proper action for a Jew, as in matrilineal descent or kosher food, and not written Torah.

https://www.aish.com/jl/b/ol/48943186.html

Agamemnon
08-07-2019, 06:23 PM
I know nothing of Halakhah, but I want to mention something that I find somewhat baffling about the idea of matrilineal descent as a requirement in Judaism.

Here it is. Anyone who has read the Old Testament, as I have, more than once (but in English translation, not in the original languages), instantly recognizes that ancient Israel was a distinctly patriarchal, pastoral culture. The central and constant references are to the ancient fathers, the "patriarchs", Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so on. There are heroic female figures, as well, but they are nowhere near as prominent in the narrative as the fathers are.

So, a matrilineal requirement seems a discordant note in the Jewish tradition. Just my impression.

Note: I just noticed that Tz85 kind of beat me to the mention of this up in post #104. Great minds run together, I guess. ;)

Just to further illustrate Targum's point, the Mosaic communities that do not follow Torah shebe'al peh (Oral law) and rely on the TaNaKH (Biblical scripture) only define Israelite status patrilineally as ancient Israelite society did. This is why the Karaites and the Samaritans both follow patrilineal descent, to quote Eli'ezer ben Ephraim haKohen (one of the founding board members of Karaite Jewish University):

"A child of a Jewish father is born Jewish and a child of a Jewish mother is not. We learn this from Vayikra 24:10 which states: "And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;" The passage does not treat a child whose father was Egyptian as part of the "Children of Israel." Reform also requires specific acts of "Jewish identification" for a child born a Jew, whereas Karaite Judaism does not."

This is the exact opposite of normative Rabbinical Halakhah, and would sound completely heretical to any frum/practicing Jew. As I said earlier, while the Orthodox will usually maintain that matrilineal descent is a Biblical precept, the shift from patrilineal descent (which was very much the norm all the way until the 1st Jewish-Roman War at the very least) to matrilineal descent seems to have taken root during Tannaitic times and was probably loosely followed until the Middle Ages (which seems to be supported by the genetic results of numerous Jewish sub-ethnic groups which paint a picture where the Judean component was mostly paternal).

EDIT: So to give a personal anecdote, you have this strange situation where an Orthodox rabbi would exclude me from Shabbat services (I've seen many exceptions to this though, in fact the Orthodox are often more welcoming than Reform Jews if you can believe that but keep in mind I'm not talking about America here) while I've had several experiences where Samaritan Kohanim would not only acknowledge me as an Israelite (which I find really amazing) but even took my Kohanic status seriously even though I do not qualify as a Kohen in any way, shape or form and therefore insisted on me reading passages from their Torah (yes, I know Samaritan Hebrew).

rms2
08-07-2019, 06:36 PM
Not my place to judge, of course, but it does strike me as kind of an odd development, given the otherwise pretty obvious patriarchal character of Hebrew history, i.e., Twelve Tribes all named for founding patriarchs, the central rite of initiation being male circumcision, the exclusively male Levitical priesthood, etc., etc., etc.

But, hey, you all know better than I do.

StillWater
08-07-2019, 07:19 PM
Just to further illustrate Targum's point, the Mosaic communities that do not follow Torah shebe'al peh (Oral law) and rely on the TaNaKh (Biblical scripture) only define Israelite status patrilineally as ancient Israelite society did. This is why the Karaites and the Samaritans both follow patrilineal descent, to quote Eli'ezer ben Ephraim haKohen (one of the founding board members of Karaite Jewish University):

"A child of a Jewish father is born Jewish and a child of a Jewish mother is not. We learn this from Vayikra 24:10 which states: "And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;" The passage does not treat a child whose father was Egyptian as part of the "Children of Israel." Reform also requires specific acts of "Jewish identification" for a child born a Jew, whereas Karaite Judaism does not."

This is the exact opposite of normative Rabbinical Halakhah, and would sound completely heretical to any frum/practicing Jew. As I said earlier, while the Orthodox will usually maintain that matrilineal descent is a Biblical precept, the shift from patrilineal descent (which was very much the norm all the way until the 1st Jewish-Roman War at the very least) to matrilineal descent seems to have taken root during Tannaitic times and was probably loosely followed until the Middle Ages (which seems to be supported by the genetic results of numerous Jewish sub-ethnic groups which paint a picture where the Judean component was mostly paternal).

EDIT: So to give a personal anecdote, you have this strange situation where an Orthodox rabbi would exclude me from Shabbat services (I've seen many exceptions to this though, in fact the Orthodox are often more welcoming than Reform Jews if you can believe that but keep in mind I'm not talking about America here) while I've had several experiences where Samaritan Kohanim would not only acknowledge me as an Israelite (which I find really amazing) but even took my Kohanic status seriously even though I do not qualify as a Kohen in any way, shape or form and therefore insisted on me reading passages from their Torah (yes, I know Samaritan Hebrew).

One day I'll have a billion dollar stock tip for you, communicated by my Rothschild cousins, but your inbox will be full.

Erikl86
08-07-2019, 07:53 PM
Just to further illustrate Targum's point, the Mosaic communities that do not follow Torah shebe'al peh (Oral law) and rely on the TaNaKh (Biblical scripture) only define Israelite status patrilineally as ancient Israelite society did. This is why the Karaites and the Samaritans both follow patrilineal descent, to quote Eli'ezer ben Ephraim haKohen (one of the founding board members of Karaite Jewish University):

"A child of a Jewish father is born Jewish and a child of a Jewish mother is not. We learn this from Vayikra 24:10 which states: "And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;" The passage does not treat a child whose father was Egyptian as part of the "Children of Israel." Reform also requires specific acts of "Jewish identification" for a child born a Jew, whereas Karaite Judaism does not."

This is the exact opposite of normative Rabbinical Halakhah, and would sound completely heretical to any frum/practicing Jew. As I said earlier, while the Orthodox will usually maintain that matrilineal descent is a Biblical precept, the shift from patrilineal descent (which was very much the norm all the way until the 1st Jewish-Roman War at the very least) to matrilineal descent seems to have taken root during Tannaitic times and was probably loosely followed until the Middle Ages (which seems to be supported by the genetic results of numerous Jewish sub-ethnic groups which paint a picture where the Judean component was mostly paternal).

EDIT: So to give a personal anecdote, you have this strange situation where an Orthodox rabbi would exclude me from Shabbat services (I've seen many exceptions to this though, in fact the Orthodox are often more welcoming than Reform Jews if you can believe that but keep in mind I'm not talking about America here) while I've had several experiences where Samaritan Kohanim would not only acknowledge me as an Israelite (which I find really amazing) but even took my Kohanic status seriously even though I do not qualify as a Kohen in any way, shape or form and therefore insisted on me reading passages from their Torah (yes, I know Samaritan Hebrew).

Also, little do many know that Beta Israel, or Ethiopian Jews, which were disconnected from the rest of the Jewish world for more than a millennia (at least), also followed patrilineal descent, just like Karaites and Samaritans:


· Descent among the Ethiopians is entirely patrilineal. Perhaps this stems from the influence of the patriarchal society (in which the status of the father is dominant); however it might originate from an ancient halakhah predating the giving of the Torah or Ezra’s regulations.

https://www1.biu.ac.il/indexE.php?id=14583&pt=1&pid=14420&level=0&cPath=43,14206,14374,14420,14583

Erikl86
08-08-2019, 08:08 AM
Great question; typical of Christians who are familiar with Written Torah (translated) but are not familiar with Oral Torah. Judaism is based on the traditional received wisdom of the dual Torah, Written and Oral. When Moshe Rabenu (Moses Our Teacher) received the Torah on Sinai, tradition says he received this dual system of the written scriptures on the one hand,and an orally-transmitted system to decode and implement the Torah on the other. Written Torah, right out of the blocks, lacks certain explanations. Two classic examples (thanks to R' Sa'adiah Gaon Iraq 9th century): 1) Torah says kosher slaughter ' as I will show you" but written Torah never revisits subject of how-to. Nevertheless; all Jews, from Yemen to Spain to Poland followed same rules and understand kosher slaughter, from the same Oral Torah tradition 2) "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth etc." so horrifying to well-meaning Christians. Lol It never meant physical mutilation! Oral Torah from ancient times always understood that it was monetary compensation: the value of an eye for the value of an eye, the value of a tooth for the value of a tooth etc. Another example is chicken treated as meat; that is not clear from written Torah but is clarified in Oral Torah; so Jews don't eat chicken parmesan just like they don't eat a cheeseburger. Jews fast to commemorate the translation of the Written Torah, feeling it led to misuse of a Written Torah which, without the Oral Torah given exclusively to the Jews, cannot be understood. It is the Oral Torah which dictates proper action for a Jew, as in matrilineal descent or kosher food, and not written Torah.

https://www.aish.com/jl/b/ol/48943186.html

The problem is, that post-tannaic Rabbinic Judaism also changed specific element of Pharisee Judaism, and that is something that should be accepted as a fact even by Orthodox Rabbinic Jews which believe in the narrative that the Oral Law was received in Mt. Sinai alongside written Law, which is that Pharisee Judaism was always partisan, represented by two זוגות - zugot - the last ones being Hillel and Shamai. Members of different sects within Pharisee Judaism argued with one another over the correctness of their respective interpretations of Oral Law (Halakha) vis-a-vis Written Law (the Tanakh).

After the destruction of the Second Temple and relocation of the Sanhedrin to Yavne (Jamnia), this partisan system was abandoned, and Hillel's method was almost universally accepted. Birkat HaMinim, added and composed in the end of the 1st century CE by Gamliel HaKatan, marks the final rejection of sectarians and sectarianism within Judaism, even between the different Pharisee sects, and marks the transition to debates between Rabbis that now after the Oral Law was being written down (in Mishnah and later Talmud) based their future decisions on the Hillel school of thoughts.

And just to understand how drastically the change was, before the destruction of the Temple, Bet Shamai was actually much more popular among Pharisees, and usually in inter-Pharisee debates, Bet Shamai's interpretations would get the upper hand rather than Hillel's.

However, the position of Bet Hillel improved after the destruction of the Temple, and Pharisee leaders no longer had an appetite for war. Under Raban Gamliel Dayavne (Gamaliel II), the Sanhedrin, now that the Sadducee Jews were virtually gone included almost only Pharisee Jews, reviewed all the points disputed by Bet Hillel, and this time it was their opinions which won the Sanhedrin's support; on most issues, it was said that whenever Bet Shamai had disputed the opinion of Beit Hillel, Beit Shammai's opinion was now null and void.

bonfirepumpkins
12-10-2019, 07:09 PM
They are genetically half Jewish but they're not Jewish halachically. They could call themselves Jewish if they have connections to Judaism and Jewish people.

Cracow
02-09-2020, 09:14 AM
Someone once told me that Jewish matrilineal descent came from in the diaspora, because Jewish women were raped by Russian, Polish, German, etc. men and as such, the child's identity would need to be tied to the mother's. I doubt this is the real reason.

This may not possibly be true because Y-DNA in Jews is in the Middle East, but mt-DNA is Europe.

Cracow
02-09-2020, 09:16 AM
\he results are public, so there's no point in voting if you're not a Jew. As far as this poll is of concern, we are following the halakhic (hence matrilineal) definition of Jewishness, so do not answer if you are not halakhically-Jewish.

What's wrong with someone who is not Jewish?
I won't vote if you don't like my non-Jew, but I will present my opinion here. I think it has a greater dependence on a person's behavior. If they go to the synagogue and worship Judaism, I think they are Jews. If they go to a Christian church and pray to Jesus, they are not Jewish. If they are secular, it depends on which side they feel more like.

Papapa
04-08-2020, 10:42 PM
The Halacha law makes sense from the scientific point of view, right? A woman is going to pass her mtDNA to a baby no matter what while men can only pass their Y-DNA to their male descendants. I doubt that ancient Hebrews knew about this though

bzaa't
04-09-2020, 01:14 PM
Because my view of Jewishness is more ethnic and less religious I see them the same as Jews by mother, that is, half Jews. They are ethnically just as half Jewish as their matrilineal Jewish counterparts. I don't really one-drop-rule people into Jewishness so even if they consider themselves Jewish but end up procreating with a non-Jew, their 1/4 Jewish offsprings would barely be considered Jewish by me, ethnically.

mildlycurly
05-04-2020, 07:45 PM
I've just been reading this interesting paper from a Jewish statistical body. It's very long, but well worth a read if you have the time:

http://jppi.org.il/new/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Fluid-Identity.pdf

The takeaways are: most respondents outside the Orthodox group do not consider it necessary to have a Jewish mother to be Jewish. A significant number also say that one whose Jewish connections go back further than one parent (indeed or with no Jewish connections at all!) can choose to be Jewish without undergoing formal conversion. Obviously all the major denominations would disagree with that statement, but especially in the age of DNA testing and widespread genealogy resources, there are a lot of people discovering Jewish heritage and deciding to honour it in some way. This may or may not include adopting a Jewish lifestyle, with or without conversion.

As far as I'm aware, British Liberal Judaism was the first to formally accept patrilineal descent in the 1940s. American Reform followed suit 40 years later, while British Reform (separate to Liberal, being a little more traditional in many respects but still not holding Jewish law as binding) allowed the education of patrilineal Jews in their Hebrew schools but did not accept them as official Jews without a conversion. Recently, they began to accept patrilineal Jews without conversion but with a process of "affirmation" similar to American Reform- that is, the patrilineal Jew must undergo a rite of passage like a bar/bat mitzvah in order to be considered a Jew without formal conversion. I believe they still uphold the rule that the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew for life no matter what.

It is unlikely the Orthodox and even Conservative will ever accept patrilineal descent, but it's clear from this survey that the majority of lay Jews do in a world where intermarriage has become a fact of Jewish life.