Reply To: Jewish identity

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I think there are several reasons Judaism is considered to be a nationality: 1. It’s hard to have pride in a country your ancestors left because they were oppressed there. My family comes from Lithuania, but after the way so many Christian Lithuanians collaborated with the Nazis, there’s no way I’m going to call myself a ‘Lithuanian American.’ 2. Jews in the different countries of Eastern and Central Europe often had more in common with each other than with the other people in their respective countries. Jews from Poland, Ukraine, the Baltics and various other countries spent most of their time speaking Yiddish, not Polish, Ukranian or Latvian. To a large extent, their customs were ‘Jewish,’ not ‘Polish’ or whatever. This was because in those countries, Jews could not join in the dominant national culture in the manner they have in the U.S. 3. Over the past 150 years, different groups of American Jews have mixed to the point where most people have ancestors from multiple countries. Early in the waves of Jewish immigration, it was common for Hungarian, Polish, German, etc. Jewish communities to have separate synagogues and neighborhoods. That’s not the case anymore, except maybe in Hasidic sects. You should note there still is a big gulf between Ashkenazi Jews, whose ancestors lived in Central and Eastern Europe, and Sephardic Jews, who come from Spain, Turkey and the Arab world*. A lot of what Americans consider to be ‘Jewish’ customs are really Ashkenazi customs. I consider my nationality to be Ashkenazi Jewish. Because the Census Bureau may not record religion, Jews who get the form with a nationality question have to pick a more-traditional nationality. I think most American Jews put down ‘Russian.’ *I know some people don’t like putting Spanish Jews in the same category as ‘Oriental’ ones, but I’m not really an expert on Sephardic Jews. Matt

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Name : Matt, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 25, City : Cleveland, State : OH Country : United States,