Jewish identity is the objective or subjective state of perceiving
oneself as a Jew and as relating to being Jewish. Under a broader
Jewish identity does not depend on whether a person is
regarded as a Jew by others, or by an external set of religious, or
legal, or sociological norms.
Jewish identity does not need to imply
religious orthodoxy. Accordingly,
Jewish identity can be cultural in
Jewish identity can involve ties to the Jewish community.
Judaism bases Jewishness on matrilineal descent. According to
Jewish law (halacha), all those born of a Jewish mother are considered
Jewish, regardless of personal beliefs or level of observance of
Jews who are atheists may have a Jewish identity. While the absolute
majority of people with this identity are of Jewish ethnicity, people
of a mixed Jewish and non-Jewish background or gentiles of Jewish
ancestry may still have a sense of Jewish self-identity.
2 A cultural/ancestral concept
3 In contemporary sociology
Antisemitism and Jewish identity
5 See also
7 External links
Jewish identity can be described as consisting of three interconnected
Jewish peoplehood, an ethnic identity composed of several subdivisions
that evolved in the Diaspora.
Jewish religion, observance of spiritual and ritual tenets of Judaism.
Jewish culture, celebration of traditions, secular and religious
A cultural/ancestral concept
Jewish identity can be cultural, religious, and/or through ancestry.
There are religious, cultural, and ancestral components to Jewish
identity due to its fundamental non-proselytizing nature, as opposed
to Christian or Muslim identity which are both "universal" religions
in that they ascribe to the notion that their faith is meant to be
spread throughout all of humanity, regardless of nationality, (and
still are, though to a far lesser extent than throughout its history
in the case of Christianity). However,
Jewish identity is firmly
intertwined with Jewish ancestry dating back to the historical Kingdom
of Israel, which was largely depopulated by the Roman Empire c. first
century CE, leading to what is known as today as the Jewish Diaspora.
In contemporary sociology
See also: Sociology of Jewry
Jewish identity began to gain the attention of Jewish sociologists in
the United States with the publication of Marshall Sklare's "Lakeville
studies". Among other topics explored in the studies was Sklare's
notion of a "good Jew". The "good Jew" was essentially an idealized
Jewish identity as expressed by the Lakeville respondents.
Today, sociological measurements of
Jewish identity have become the
concern of the Jewish Federations who have sponsored numerous
community studies across the U.S.; policy decisions (in areas such
as funding, programming, etc.) have been shaped in part due to studies
on Jewish identity.
Antisemitism and Jewish identity
According to the social-psychologist Simon Herman, antisemitism plays
a part in shaping Jewish identity. This view is echoed by religious
leaders such as
Jonathan Sacks who writes that modern Jewish
communities and the modern
Jewish identity are deeply influenced by
Basic Laws of Israel
Ethnic identity development
Identity (social science)
Law of Return
Passing (racial identity)
Politics of Israel
Secular Jewish culture
Who is a Jew?
^ Spinoza, Liberalism, and the Question of Jewish Identity. Yale
University Press, 1997.
^ Galatians 6:11, Romans 16:22, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17
^ Sklare, Marshall, Joseph Greenblum, and Benjamin Bernard Ringer. The
Lakeville Studies. Under the Dir. of Marshall Sklare. Basic books,
^ Sklare, Marshall. "The Image of the Good Jew in Lakeville."
Observing America’s Jews. Brandeis University Press, 1993.
^ Sheskin, Ira M. "Comparisons between local Jewish community studies
and the 2000–01 National Jewish Population Survey." Contemporary
Jewry 25, no. 1 (2005): 158-192.
^ Herman, Simon N. Jewish identity: A social psychological
perspective. Transaction Pub, (1989): 51.
^ Love, Hate, and Jewish Identity Archived 14 April 2012 at the
Wayback Machine., by Jonathan Sacks. First Things, November 1997.
Leadel.NET - Leading Jewish Inspiration. What makes Jewish Identity on
HERMAN, Simon N. Jewish Identity: A Social Psychological Perspective.
GOLDBERG, David Theo & KRAUSZ, Michael. Jewish Identity. Temple
University Press, 1993.
Three Intellectuals and a People, by Laurent Cohen (an article about
the Jewish Identity of Hannah Arendt,
Gershom Scholem and Simone
Weil). Eretz Acheret