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Jewish Atheists

For Atheists of Jewish origin and others interested in Jewish history and culture.

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Discussion Forum

Am I Still Jewish?

Started by Cecilia. Last reply by Freethinker31 9 hours ago. 15 Replies

Letting go of Israel, or The Self-Loathing Jew

Started by Diana D. Last reply by Alan Perlman Apr 15, 2013. 21 Replies

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Comment by Harvey F on December 3, 2011 at 10:25pm

I wonder if there are any Israeli humanist/atheist groups or activities here. I haven't found any...

Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 24, 2011 at 8:29pm

Interesting, Sophia! When I was still a believer, I lived in Japan and   married a Japanese man who converted to Judaism (even though I never asked him to do it), and we were married at the Tokyo Jewish Community Center in Tokyo by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, who is quoted in that article. There were still a good number of Jews in Tokyo at that time (1970), who had escaped from the Nazis. I remember having lunch after the morning Shabbat service, and listening to them singing the old songs they had brought from Europe. However, they were making sure that their children managed to get to the US, if at all possible, or else Europe or Israel, so I'm sure that the escapee Jewish community there is dying out if not already dead. On the other hand, there must surely be Israelis who work there, and probably Lubavitchers (you find them EVERYWHERE), so maybe the community center is still there.

Comment by David Danon on June 13, 2011 at 7:31am
It's alright, I've been beaten up on both sides, kids at my old catholic school weren't very nice, but high school is when they get a lot nicer
Comment by Natalie A Sera on June 12, 2011 at 8:57pm

David, I'm so sorry you had that experience. Fundies are fundies, no matter what their religious roots, and are NOT known for any concept of the basic humanity of all people, let alone respect for anyone but their own group. I shouldn't hate anyone, but I do hate fundies of any stripe, primarily because they insist on forcing their views on the rest of us :-(

I have had contact with Chasidic groups in Los Angeles, in Katmandu, Nepa, and in Grodno, Belarus, and they have no problem considering me Jewish -- first off, they want money from me, and second, if I would follow their ways, they would be only too eager to marry me off to some schmuck. Neither proposition is acceptable to me!! LOL!!

Comment by David Danon on June 12, 2011 at 8:15pm
Look I'm considered christian, I was raised but always tended to have jewish roots that I used to want to know, but the hassids in my neighborhood used to beat the shit out of me chanting Halfbreed or Christian, then when I started building muscle that tune quickly changed to welcome to the tribe then more rage happens, but yah they consider u guys not jewish
Comment by Michael Pianko on June 12, 2011 at 4:11pm
My ancestors immigrated to New York and then moved to Pennsylvania and Chicago and Detroit. My grandfather on my mother's side, his ancestors trace to Kovno, which is now called Kaunas and is in Lithuania. (For some reason, people think Kovnat has something to do with Kovno. My Grandmother on my mothers side's family was from Minsk and Pinsk in Belarus, another ancestor on my grandfather's side might be from a town that my great aunt pronounced like Vitsnits, but I can't find it but it sort of wounds like Vannitsa, Ukraine.

On my dad's side my grandmother said her parents owned a dairy farm in Lapis, Poland. I can't find Lapis, maybe it is now part of a bigger town or city, or maybe it is now not in Poland. It never occurred to me to think there can be any association between Kovnat and Kovno, Lithuania. Then I found the name Kovnat in a dictionary of Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire. Kovnat, Kovnator, Kovnatskij or -ski or -sky were listed as variants of the same name. The name is from the German or Yiddish pronunciation of a town in Latvia that is now Kaunata, Latvia. My ancestors had the name Kovnator and then a great uncle changed it to Kovnat in the U.S., and a few Jews still have the name Kovnator but its less common that Kovnat. There are non-Jews with the name Kownat and Kownator. A few live in France. Notice that when non-Jews use the name, it is spelled with a w but in German, w is pronounced more like English v.

Paul Wexler is or was a linguist at Tel Aviv University who wrote articles and a book about Yiddish trying to prove that Yiddish started when a community of Jews, Probably in Bavaria, spoke a Slavic dialect, likely Old Sorbian or something similar. Sorbian is still spoken by a few thousand people in at least two towns in East Germany, and Bavaria used to speak an old-Slavic dialect. Then Germans migrated east and the Jews started to switch to their Germanic dialect. But certain German words for some, but not all Jewish religious concepts and for some other words that sounded too christian, the old Sorbian (not Serbian; look up upper and lower Sorbian) words for these things were relexified with old Hebrew words. A few basic Slavic words were retained. A second relexification might have happened later among another Jewish community around Poland or Russia or NE Europe, as speakers of old Yiddish migrated north-east and the Polish Jews relexified to Yiddish. In all cases of relexification, most or all of the older grammatical structures are retained, just the vocabulary gets changed; more research needs to be done comparing Yiddish thought patterns/morphology/syntax to old Slavic dialects. I should have done this but I'm too lazy and I'm too afraid to talk to people to teach college classes.

Arthur Koestler's 1976 book “the Thirteenth tribe” gives a good argument for why most Ashkenazic people are not descended from the Ancient Israelites or Hebrews. I have no emotional vested interested in Israel or Hebrew or my so called mythic, glorious Semitic past and I have no reason to think I am descended from the tribe of Judah in Ancient Israel. Never mind that the exodus from Egypt is probably a total myth and the red sea didn't really split, that's just a myth. Anyway, the passover hagadda doesn't not mention Moses even once, and there is almost no story, just praising Adonai over and over for taking the Jews out of Egypt and giving us the torah...
Comment by Natalie A Sera on June 11, 2011 at 5:08am

David, who do they consider to be Christians? Although the real issue is non-Jews, not specifically Christians. Not me, because I was born of a Jewish mother. Halacha, the Jewish law they practice, says anyone born of a Jewish mother is Jewish regardless of the father. On the other hand, if the mother is NOT Jewish, the child is not, either, even if the father IS Jewish. If the mother converts before the child is born, then the child IS Jewish.

This interpretation is a very old tribal custom from the Torah, and written down as much as 3000 years ago, although it was probably practiced much earlier.

As for me, I don't care what they think of me -- I know who I am, and where I came from, and what parts of Judaism are acceptable to me, and what parts I reject. I am unacceptable to them for reasons of practice, not birth, and they would be only too glad to bring me into their fold, if only they COULD!!!  LOL!!

Comment by David Danon on June 11, 2011 at 2:26am
What do u think of those orthodox or chassidic jews that consider u guys to be christians
Comment by Ralph Dumain on June 10, 2011 at 11:41pm
I'm an Esperantist as well.
Comment by Natalie A Sera on June 10, 2011 at 10:11pm

But you have to admit it's EASIER to have one national language. In the countries you mentioned, most of the time, the speakers of minority languages must invest hundreds or thousands of hours into learning the majority language (Canada is officially bilingual, but in most of those other countries, there is an official national language, which is what is used in education to the exclusion of all others). Of course, I'm an Esperantist, and believe in a (relatively) easy world second language for all, so that we can all communicate on the equal plane of using an acquired rather than native language. And yes, I'm a hopeless idealist, and I was supposed to outgrow that a long time ago.

My reason for believing that I have Semitic roots is that I come from a Cohen on one side and a Levi on the other, and these have been genetically proven to be truly Semitic. (I'm gonna get you to spell that right one of these days! :-) ) But even if I didn't, Jewish history onward from before the time of Jesus is well documented, and there is no reason to think that we DON'T have Semitic ancestry. The history and culture are continuous. Looks don't indicate anything after a few generations -- yet my grandfather, an aunt and an uncle and cousins on my mother's side look VERY Middle Eastern, and so did my grandmother on my father's side. So I don't see any reason to deny what the history says.

Also, did you know that population studies have shown Ashkenazi Jews to be more similar to Arabs than to Europeans in several factors? ABO blood groupings, for example, show different percentages from European populations. There are others which I can't quote.

In sum, I acknowledge the European Christian and Turkic (possibly Muslim) and earlier pagan sides of my ancestry, but I'm really not interested in that part of it, and AM interested in the Jewish part of it, and where they came from. The history is there, it's in writing, and I don't have the language skills to read it, but I find no reason not to believe what the scholars are telling me.

(And parenthetically, my son is half-Japanese, and he's not interested in either the Jewish side, OR the Japanese side -- he's an atheistic American!!)

Again, you are free to explore whatever part of your heritage that interests you -- in the end ALL human heritage is ours to partake of!

 

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