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For Atheists of Jewish origin and others interested in Jewish history and culture.
Latest Activity: Dec 21, 2014
Started by jlaz Dec 21, 2014.
Started by jlaz. Last reply by jlaz Sep 25, 2014.
Started by Freethinker31. Last reply by Freethinker31 Sep 19, 2014.
I realize that technically Yiddish doesn't matter, but then Hebrew matters even less. I'm not going to be religious about maintaining a spoken Yiddish. I think Ben Yehuda was able create modern spoken Hebrew because of a propaganda campaign promoting Hebrew and bashing Yiddish. The Jewish who wanted a Jewish state in Israel needed Hebrew to help transform the Jews into a semetic people who belong in Israel and not Europe.
Jews living in Israel are required to serve in the army for a certain amount of time, so I'm glas I don't live in Israel. I took a Yiddish class in Lithuania in 2007 (before I came out as an atheist). There is a small Jewish community in Vilnius, Lithuania (they maintain a community center that is a few rooms used for meetings and events, no fitness equiptment; a holocause museum in a house-sized building, and in two separate places, an art and exhibit exhibition galary, and placks about the vilnius ghetto). I would feel safe visiting the country again. I think in terms of hatred of Jews, E. Europe has improved since communism ended. I think that recently, Lithuanins have not been more anti-semetic than other countries in Europe, and they are hate us less than most of the middle east and North Africa and central Asia.
(You don't seem to hear much about Ladino/judezmo or dzhudezmo or a few other Jewish dialects that might or might not be extinct now). There was a conference in 1908 in a town called Cernowiz (the spelling varies depending on which article you read or which language) where they decided that Yiddish should be the Jewish national language. Hebrew went extinct as a spoken language by the 100's AD or CE when the Jews began to speak Armaic dialect(s). I have met native Yiddish speakers, but yeah, I know it has declined a lot. Yiddish is as in danger of going extinct as the world's other small languages that (now) have less than about a million speakers. My grandfather on my mother's side was Meyer Rothenberg and a great-great grandfather had the same name and there was a Rabbi Meyer of Rothenberg who lived in the 1200's in Germany and there is a town in Germany called Rothenberg but I have no evidence to indicate whether the rabbi is my ancestor.
Michael, I'm not really sure how to answer you, except to point out the parallel with Latin. It's not really spoken today, but the descendants of its speakers are clearly with us. Hebrew WAS preserved as a liturgical language, and the reason that Ben Yehuda managed to revive it was because so many of the Ashkenazi immigrants to Palestine had such a deep knowledge of it, not just for prayers, but also for reading the literature (much broader than the
We are CLEARLY mixed bloods -- during the Roman Empire, the Jews traded throughout the Mediterranean, and made their way up north to Eastern Europe. It's been genetically proven that they took Germanic wives, because Germanic mitochondrial DNA is common in Ashkenazi Jews. But Middle-Eastern Y-chromosomal DNA is also common, although not universal.
Since almost all of humanity is mixed-blood, there is no reason why you have to care about your Semitic roots -- if you identify more with Lithuania (which doesn't give a SHIT about you) so be it. You're a jigsaw puzzle just like the rest of us, and since none of us can be completely committed to any specific part of our own puzzles, why don't you just sit back and enjoy learning about the parts that DO intrigue you?
There is DNA research that proves that Jewish groups all over the world are more related to each other than to their surrounding communities, although, of course, there were conversions and intermarriage. Jews are an ethnic group -- a tribe, which happens to have its own religion. You DON'T have to believe in god in order to be Jewish, because Jews are born, not made (except through conversion). People of Japanese descent don't stop being Japanese, just because they were born here, and they are also a tribe with its own religion (Shinto), although most stop following it when they've been here for a few generations.
As far as the Torah and other Jewish writings -- we should accept them for just what they are: a picture of the thinking of primitive pre-scientific peoples who were trying to figure out the mysteries of life the universe and everything else. If every other culture has its mythology, the Jews have a right to theirs, too -- it's just that the Christians have perverted our mythology into something "holy" and "inerrant". But that's not OUR fault! What I like about the Jewish writings is the window into the past, mythology, genealogy, along with oral histories that gradually merge into provable histories, literature, sex poetry, moral and ethical arguments, mysticism, and all the ways the human mind tries to grapple with its environment. You don't have to believe in god to be interested in how humans have thought about their world. I enjoy having an ethnic and cultural heritage, and it has nothing to do with theism.
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