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Jewish Atheists

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

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Comment by Natalie A Sera on June 8, 2011 at 4:14pm

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

Torah).

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?

Comment by Ralph Dumain on June 8, 2011 at 12:50pm
It's really culture, not genetics, that matters. And yes, there's a historically important Yiddish culture, which amazingly is being rescued from oblivion. It matters a lot more than ancient Judaea. There is a whole history of specifically secular, mostly left-wing Yiddish culture that vanished--or was disappeared--in the 1950s.
Comment by Michael Pianko on June 8, 2011 at 12:44pm
My mother insists that "way back when" our ancestors were the Hebrews in ancient Israel. OS there seems to be this big devotion to this mythic past of ancient Israel. On the other hand, religious Jews insist that when someone converts to the Jewish religion, they are exactly equal in status to those whose ancestors were Jewish. And then what about Yiddish culture? I know that technically Yiddish culture doesn't matter, but There used to be 11 million Yiddish speakers and no native Hebrew speakers. I can see that my genetic lineage technically doesn't matter, but I want to prove that my mother may be wrong; there were many small, historically unrelated ethnic groups in Europe and Asia that might or might not have been partially descended from the Jews in ancient Israel. If my ancestors were the ancient Hebrews, I might have to prove why I don't care about the Hebrew language, but if my ancestors were not the ancient Hebrews there is no reason for me not to think my heritage has something to do with Yiddish and Lithuania instead of Israel and Hebrew.
Comment by Natalie A Sera on June 8, 2011 at 1:56am

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.

Comment by David Danon on June 8, 2011 at 1:32am
My dad is jewish but my mom was catholic, to think I was raised catholic almost converted to judaism, couldn't learn hebrew so I went back to catholicism got bored in Sunday school, then got stoned alot in sunday school, then said fuck it I'll be an atheist, but still half jewish
Comment by joel farris on May 26, 2011 at 1:49pm
I love the culture but the stories in the torah are so fucking stupid especially jona and the big fish lol.
Comment by Michael Pianko on January 15, 2011 at 2:27pm
My mother insists that her ancestors are originally from Israel, and she does seem interested in the fact that her ancestors immigrated to the US from towns that are now in Lithuania and Belarus and possibly Ukraine; whenever I mention this she always says that "Way back when" her ancestors were from Israel.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on January 13, 2011 at 11:06pm
Unless you're concerned about what diseases you are genetically susceptible to, what does it matter what your genetic lineage is? You know, that old theory about the khazars was circulating in the 19th century, if not before. And so?
Comment by Michael Pianko on January 13, 2011 at 3:18pm

Sholem moT.  As for being Semetic, I don't think I am.  I think my ancestors were probably slavic speaking peoples or possibly turkic speaking peoples who got converted to Judaism in E. Europe sometime between the 800's and 1300's.  Then, as German speakers migrated east, these Jews language got mostly relexified with middle high german words and a little bit relexified with Old Hebrew words, and retained some Slavic words and the original underlying slavic grammar or language structure and aspectual system. 

 

The term Ashkenazic is occasionally used to refer to the ethnic group that originated in E. Europe and historically spoke a secular language called Yiddish and followed the Jewish religion (which contained/contains some customs and superstitions that were actually borrowed and adapted from the neighboring slavic peoples).  

 

Ben Yehuda revived modern Israeli Hebrew because him and some Jewish intellectuals hated the idea that the jews were living outside Israel, and the needed to revive Hebrew in order to use it to transform the Jews into a semetic people who belong in Israel and not in Europe.  There were some Jews native to the muslim countries, and also about 18 different Jewish dialects in existence, which probably each correspond to a historically separate, genetically unrelated ethnic group that got converted to Judaism.  But before WWII, 2/3 of the Jews in the world were Ashkenazic.  The second biggest group were the ones that had a langauge called Ladino (similar to spanish from around the 1400's -1600's, with some Old Hebrew words replacing spanish words, and written in a Hebraic derived alphabet).  

 

I don't think most Jews are Semetic.  A few might be, but just a few.   

Comment by Michael Pianko on December 27, 2010 at 9:29pm
And another thing, what nobody seems to want to acknowledge, is Jewish ritual infant penile mutilation, which should not exist and this should have nothing to do with being Jewish, because it is just WRONG to cut off or damage in any way your son's genitals just because you are afraid not to because the virus of Judaism says to do this.  Now, when I finally manage to get a girlfriend (who hopefully will not be Jewish, because in case I have a son I will not allow him to be circumcised or hurt in any way), I will realize I shouldn't have even bothered with her, because my penis is too skinny because I was circumcised, and my glans have no sensation, and I'm missing over half the nerve endings in my penis that men are supposed to have.
 

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