Poll: Do you consider patrilineal Jews to be Jewish?

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Thread: Do you consider patrilineal Jews to be Jewish?

  1. #1
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    Do you consider patrilineal Jews to be Jewish?

    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.
    Last edited by Agamemnon; 07-27-2019 at 10:29 PM.
    ᾽Άλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω, σὺ δ᾽ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν:
    κρύβδην, μηδ᾽ ἀναφανδά, φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν
    νῆα κατισχέμεναι: ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι πιστὰ γυναιξίν.


    -Αγαμέμνων; H Οδύσσεια, Ραψωδία λ

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  3. #2
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    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
    Last edited by Erikl86; 07-28-2019 at 08:35 AM.
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    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

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    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.

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    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...ra-Yisrael/amp

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agamemnon View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sikeliot View Post
    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.
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    My mtDNA: K1a1b1a;

    My dad's mtDNA: K2a2a;

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  17. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erikl86 View Post
    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.

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    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.
    Last edited by Targum; 07-28-2019 at 02:31 PM.

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