Although I have found great comfort in the online atheist community (as IRL I know oly one other atheist), I often feel left out because so little is ever spoken about Judaism. I have had very little exposure to Christianity IRL andthough I do understand it ,I frequently cannot relate to experiences within it, as Judaism is in many ways very different.
And whereas people seem quite happy to criticise Christianity, and often Islam, Judaism is usually overlooked. Obviousy, it makes sense to a degree as number-wise, Judaism has far less adherents, and so is less visible. But I wonder whether you feel there is something else to it-because peope are worried about being labeled Anti-Semitic (a word which is thrown around a fair amount, often incorrectly), or whether it is simply because people do not notice it as much. Because really, despite the fact that it is a small religion, it is pretty important as the first of the Big Three, and can (and does) cause just as much harm as any other religion , if not more.

Thoughts?

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Whereas things in the exclusively Christian New Testament are mostly dumb; things in the Old Testament are mostly vicious. Most of what I hate about Christianity are carry overs form the New Testament and so when I criticize one it's often implied that I am also criticizing another.

I don't worry about being called an anti-Semite though I often have been called such for opposing the program of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories among other things. I know I'm not an anti-Semite. I don't oppose the settlers because they're Jews, I oppose the settlers because they're displacing other people who would otherwise be living there.
You don't have to tell me; I go to a very pro-Zionist school, and the words Anti-Semite are thrown aound a huge amount, often aimed at anyone who is even mildly critical of Israel, and its policies. I am by no means a Zionist,and have often voiced my opposition of Israeli policies, settlers etc. Obviously, they can't call me Anti-Semitic, so I have been called a 'self-hating Jew' instead *eyeroll*. You learn to laugh about it though-there is no point getting too angry or upset about people for whom logic is clearly too difficult to master
Regarding Israel, here is something I posted on another message forum in a thread about Zionism:

"Let's take a look at the history of the region. The Jews lived in Israel and ruled the land for several thousand years. Around 70 AD, the Romans began to exile the Jews from the region. They were repeatedly exiled or massacred under the rule of various Arab Empires and by the Christians during the Crusades. Several Arab empires subsequently took over the land and exiled the Jews. Eventually, the Ottoman Empire took over the region in the 1200s and maintained control until the end of WWI.

A lot of people say that the area of present-day Israel was nearly deserted before the Zionist movement of the late 19th-early 20th century, but this is not true. According to Wikipedia (not always the most accurate source, but I digress) the population in that area in 1890 was about 520,000. Of those 520,000, there were approximately 20-25,000 Jews, or roughly 4.8% of the population.

To put this in perspective, Israel is approximately the size of New Jersey. The population density in 1890 would have been roughly equal to that of present-day Mississippi (would you say Mississippi is deserted?). In fact, it was more densely populated that the United States was at the time. The Jewish population (as a percentage) in Israel at that time was approximately the same as the Asian-American population in the US today. By 1917, the Jewish population was over 11%.

When you say the immigrating Jews were surrounded by "hordes of aggressive Arabs", consider the attitude of people in the United States against the rising Hispanic population. The ancestors of the Jews that lived in Europe had been kicked out of Israel hundreds, if not more than a thousand, years ago. So when they decided to immigrate back to Israel, the Arab population already living there views them as unwanted immigrants (and many were probably illegal immigrants).

Then, in 1917, Britain issues the Balfour Declaration, giving the Jews a homeland in Israel. If you were an Arab living in the area and Britain decided they were going to give the Jews the land that your family had lived on for hundreds of years, wouldn't you be pissed?

Jewish people consider the land of Israel the "Promised Land", given to them by God. However, that is not the belief of the Muslims. To draw a parallel, the land that is now Kentucky was considered sacred to the Shawnee. They believed the "Great Spirit" gave them that land to hunt on. Do you support giving the land back to them now? What if China issued a declaration that they were going to create a Shawnee homeland in Kentucky? Or what if they decided they were going to give Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico back to the Mexicans?

Many Muslims consider the entire region of Palestine as their holy land, just as the Jews do. Do you understand where they are coming from when they are so adament about this issue?

Granted, it has been 60 years since Israel was officially made a nation and the Arabs need to get over it. Yet, they refuse to let it go and will likely stop at nothing until Israel is no more.

This is one of those issues where religion gets in the way of rational behavior (on both sides). If Israel wasn't the "Promised Land", the Jewish people would have been happy to take refuge in any country in which they were treated as equal citizens. If it wasn't the "holy land" for Muslims, they would have let the dispute go by now. In the end, one group or the other will probably be completely destroyed. In the meantime, the United States is caught in the middle."
I think many of us simply don't know enough about Judaism to be confident about discussing it. Also, in Australia, at least, we have a relatively small, and low profile Jewish population who seem content to practice their religion without inflicting it on others. If only Christians were so polite. From my perspective, the short answer to your observation is that, in this country, Jews are so much better behaved than Christians that they barely register on the atheist's radar.
Yes, the religious Jewish communities tend to be very insular and tight-knit, keeping themselves to themselves generally. This is partly because, as such a tiny minority group (not just as Jews, but Orthodox Jews) they cannot really afford to attract negative attention from outside society. Another reason of course, is that they wish to avoid assimilation and intermarriage of the next generation at all costs, and by cutting themselves off from society so much, they can limit the chances of this happening.
Ex-Christians tend to be as provincial and self-centered as real Christians. They model all religion on Christianity. Amog other things, they are hung up on "faith", but this obsession is uniquely Christian. And historically some of them have not been shy on the question of anti-Semitism. But more importantly, they do not understand secular Jews any more than they understand practicing Jews, because they don't understand ethnicity and they don't understand the process of secularization that has affected the majority of Jews in the west. They think they can understand people of today by examining their sacred texts of centuries past. It's all part of the education deficit endemic to this society.
Ralph: It's all part of the education deficit endemic to this society.

“It is more difficult, and it calls for higher energies of soul, to live a martyr than to die one” -- Horace Mann steals the words out of Ralph's mouth.

Miriam, meet Ralph. He is kinda like our own version of John the Blaptist. He wanders the wilderness of AtheistNexus in a fibreglass hair-shirt subsisting on a diet of grease from discarded Dorito packets and cooling system condensate, flaggelating himself with ethernet cable off-cuts to atone for our ignorance and "provincialism". He emerges periodically from his rituals to accost random new members and inform them (and remind us) that he has a brain the size of a planet and you had better listen. You can find a handy "ignore this user" link on his profile page.

Yes Judaism is poorly represented here, but that's probably also a reflection on the fact that its not that huge a slice of the theist pie chart to begin with. I guess the only thing I could really point you to is the Society for Humanistic Judaism -

http://www.shj.org/

and Rabbi Sherwin Wine -

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,839200,00.html

There is also a good documentary on kids leaving Judaism (specifically Hasidic) you can find here -

http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2568296.htm

I also have a Jewish atheist friend who's a very knowledgable guy. He is firmly of the opinion that there is a significant atheist population within Judaism - they just don't talk about it because they consider it irrelevant. They practice Judaism purely for the ritual and sense of community, and are otherwise quite content.

Anyway, welcome and enjoy.
It has definitely been my experience that there are many people born into religious Jewish families who continue to practice the religion and either have never really thought about or questioned their beliefs, or (I supect) do not really believe in some-or any-of the foundations of Judaism but feel they should continue practicing it as it is a lot easier and because their whole life has centred around it, and they would not know how to live any differently. Personally, I know I coldn't live like that, but if that's what they want...
And thanks for the links
Miriam - from my admittedly limited experience and readings of Jewish thought, I do get the impression that atheism just simply isn't that big a deal. Questioning everything is always a predominant thing - even the existence of a creator. Not believing in the definite existence of God, or even refusing to believe outright, is not a terminal and fatal sin leading to eternal damnation. In that respect it is radically different to the other two sandpit loony-toons.
Yes welcome Miriam! I must jump in here and and just wallow for a moment in the glow of another FINE Felch bashing of Ralph! Petty I know, but Felch has behaved for so long I just wanted to point out my elation and being able read over that fine slashing!! Thank you Felch, its good to be back!
I don't understand how ther are all these people calling themselves followers of Judiasm that don't sell their daughters into slavery, don't kill gays, or do work on the sabath day.

If you say, "hey I am a follower of Judiasm, which means we practice what is preached in this book." and you aren't killing homosexuals, like the torah tells you to, then you are a liar or a coward, or not really a religouse jew.
It's ignorant people like you that exemplify what I'm talking about here.

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