Judaism, Jewishness and everything you were never taught in school about it.

I've been hanging around for a while, and the amount of ignorance and misinformation abounding around Judaism, Jewishness (not the same thing), and Israel just astounds me.

Because we are an ethnic group that just happens to have a religion attached to it (much like the Japanese) it is entirely possible to be a Jewish atheist -- and I don't think I'm the only one here, although it seems to me that others may be unwilling to come out, because of the rampant hostility that I have seen expressed against us.

I think that this hostility comes from ex-Christians truly not understanding the difference between the definition of a Christian and a Jew, much less the profound cultural differences that exist. Americans in general, which mostly means Christians, haven't a clue about Jewish history, nor approaches to philosophy, nor how we have evolved, nor our world-view. 

So I have a lot of topics in my head to write about -- but I'm also VERY interested in genuine questioning, just so some of you can understand before you attack.

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Natalie - I think one of our men posted it correctly. You claim the jewish community as your own - thus separating yourself into US vs. THEM.

Christians do exactly the same thing - because as an atheist through and through - I see Judaism as a 'religion' and you continue to see it as a special group of people and compare it to 'Armenians' etc.

My geneology goes back to Italy. I do NOT claim them. They have been total and complete asswipes throughout history - from Roman times up through Mussolini and the 2nd World War, to currently disgracing themselves with the Amanda Knox murder trial to yesterday's S & P downgrading of their credit.

Now, personally, I still like the beautiful women - but that happens everywhere. It's not because their Italian or anything else......they're beautiful (until they flash that crucifix or open their mouth about how much they love that Jesus character.

Steven, Italians have given the world great art, architecture, law, music, philosophy, science...and pasta.

Total and complete asswipes...from Roman times up though S&P's actions?

Your emotions rule.

Tom - Everything you've listed was done with God and without religion. Perhaps I should have been even more specific so here is one to add to the list - and it's emotional because it's evil.

Roman's wrote the rule book on how to treat slaves - written around 200BCE - and Christians picked up on this and continued this evil.

Everything else you've mentioned is fine - but lets not overlook what their history reveals about their 'culture'. If you decide you'd like to be a part of that culture - go for it - but not me. I don't align myself with any culture that has such an evil history. If that puts me alone - that's fine with me.

I have the name somewhere of the person that wrote this Roman rules for slaves - and it's not a pretty picture. The very fact that America has been built on such an evil thing is cause for concern. The bigotry and hatred goes forth even today - with prime targets homosexuals and atheists (expecially atheists).

That's not emotional - it's a fact.

Steven, you ignore the widespread and VERY intentional secular movement of the Renaissance. Why else are there paintings like the Venus de Milo, and the thousands of Italian madrigals based on mythical themes? While it is true that the myths, were, in their own time, religious, that was NOT the intention of the poets and composers who created them. The glory of the Italian Renaissance was so admired that it spread across all of Western Europe, and created a distinct development of culture, and was NOT religious in nature, nor was it supported by the church, for the most part (of course, the church still WAS active in patronage of the arts, but if you had studied the sexy nature of the madrigals, as I have, you would know that the church COULDN'T have supported them!)

It is your choice to reject your Italian heritage, but I revel in the Renaissance -- can't get enough of the music! :-)

Jews are hated because everyone Christian is taught the Old Testament - and being the truthful Word of God - all those genoicdes etc. well - payback has been an ongoing bitch hasn't it? Muslims are taught the same thing.

Atheists are discriminated against with smugness from god-believers. Will the hateful and horrific actions of god-believers ever end?

With Jews spreading the word they are a special and specific 'peoples' (not just a religion) with their very own godly DNA -  they continue to separate themselves from 'others'.

A couple of responses: long before I stopped believing in god, I made the conscious decision that I was not going to be restricted to a Jewish-only community, because the rest of the world was just too interesting and there was too much beauty out there for me to miss out on it. I have traveled extensively all over the world and enjoyed it immensely, by immersing myself in the local culture (more interested in art and music and dance and food, and architecture and religion than sightseeing). But if I have the right to appreciate other cultures, I equally have the right to appreciate my own.

Second, it's NEVER all right to murder Palestinians or anyone else. But it's never all right for suicide bombers to murder Jews, either. I fully understand and appreciate and sympathize with the Palestinian narrative, but there is a Jewish narrative too, and I refuse to be one-sided about it.  I refuse to over-simplify, as I see so many very vocal people doing. I am perfectly comfortable with, and often agree with people who specifically criticize an action of Israel's government, but don't see much criticism of Palestinian governmental mistakes or misdeeds. In my view, it's very much a 2-way street, and that implies the necessity of dialogue and compromise and cooperation, not yelling over who killed who and how much we would like to change history (an endless trap if I ever heard one!). I very much want to see POSITIVE change, not just continued violence from people who demand EVERYTHING. On either side. I hope that makes sense.

Yes it is a 2 way street, and not enough people can think past whatever side they've chosen.

We don't attack (currently) the Palestinian side because this thread is about Judaism. When one wants to start a thread discussion about those Muslim Palestinian's...I'll be happy as I'm certain everyone else will also - to weigh in on the atrocities committed in the name of that asswipe Mohammed/Allah.

I'm an equal opportunity god-believing dissant. You tell the story or name the GAWD - and I'm pleased as punch to contribute to another fairy tale and be just as nasty and blashpemous as possible.

"...it's very much a 2-way street...."

An American-born, non-practicing Jew I worked with one day gave me his take on Middle Eastern conflict. He lamented the toll on the Israeli side.

Telling him the English civil wars stopped when the parties realized that killing each other wasn't getting them what they wanted, I added that the people of the Middle East are entitled to their civil wars. They too will someday realize they have an alternative.

I've been in a war and I've done mediation; I know that for as long as people want to kill, they will do so.

Fundies are fair-weather friends to the Jews. They're like the kids that made fun of you and then suddenly wanted to come to your house because you have a swimming pool. I've met a few of them and at least I know they won't give me shit, but I also don't trust them, and find them patronizing (esp the ones who try to get me saved).

Yes, I AM connected to my ethnic group. So are many of the world's people, including the people of the United States, who have formed an ethnic group called Americans.

However, enjoying one's own ethnic group absolutely does NOT mean excluding, hating or feeling superior to other people. When I was in my late teens, I made the conscious decision that I would not spend my life facing inward toward the Jewish community, but that I would face outward, toward the world, and enjoy its varied communities and ethnic groups. I have traveled all over the world, listened to lots of music, eaten lots of foods, danced lots of dances, stood in awe of lots of works of art, listened to people's beliefs and stories, and cultural worldviews, and while I don't agree with everything other people believe, my purpose has always been to learn, not to judge. I speak 7 languages at least at a minimum communicational level -- not well enough to translate or get complicated, but it communicates to people that I care enough about them to learn something of them. If I can respect and enjoy other peoples' cultures, why can't they respect and enjoy mine?

  Stephen Campagna:  I don't know that it is fair to hang one's entire opinion of the entire Israeli populace on one man's book.  Every culture and country has it's snobs and racial purists-and their exclusionary tactics  range from the humorously obnoxious (i.e. the French-or so I hear) to the horrific (in India, many neighborhoods do not allow it's denizens to marry folks from other neighborhoods, literally on pain of death).  I haven't lived in Isreal either (who knew?), but somehow I'm sure there are at least two nice and non-hostile Jewish people living over there (except, I hear that there once was a town called Sodom, where there weren't ANY good people, but someone took care of that town and they aren't a problem anymore).

  Rather than stoking the furnace of hostility by stating with certainty that this Einben fellow is the be-all- end-all source on all things Jewish, why not take Natalie's word for it that SHE went over there and had a good time-and met some nice folks.  Culture-centric hostility like the kind you mention should be examined on another thread, perhaps.  I'm not Jewish or an expert on Jews, so I just came to this discussion to discuss with folks who have direct knowledge of a culture.

I have found that when you don't know for certain, that it's best to do the asking-not the telling.  I've been wrong a lot on the subject of Jewish culture-but that's okay, when I'm wrong seems to be when I learn the most. All things good!

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