Yes, No, and maybe so.

BY Austin Hill
LifeAtStart.com Reporter

Jewish is confusingly described as both a religion and a race. You can be born Jewish, and not believe in Judaistic principles, or you can follow Judaism without being born by a Jewish mother. Or can you?

When the argument is made that Jewish is not a race, one often brings up the fact that they are the descendants from Israel, therefore they share common characteristics and therefore qualify as a race. But sharing a common origin is irrelevant in regards to racial status, as a race is defined as “a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics.” One might then bring up the argument that “all Jews look alike,” however this suggestion is both inaccurate and demeaning. There are no discrete characteristics that people who claim to be Jewish possess that non-jews do not.

The fact of the matter is that Jewish is not a race, yet it is. That is because race is a social construct and has no biological significance whatsoever. Modern research has shown that there is no distinction between the DNA of different racial groups; In fact, there is more variance between people of the same race than between those of other races. In the scientific sense, race does not exist.

However, socially, it does exist, thus making race extremely subjective as it is open to interpretation. The Jewish group is one that defines itself, and that is a person whose mother is Jewish. But this definition is only as valid as the source defining itself. One must assume then that this self-identification that Judaism is attempting is valid. But how is this arbitrary identification any more valid than say, someone identifying everyone with a cleft chin as an “attack helicopter.”

The subjectivity of race and the complexity of humans allows anyone to identify themselves as a part of any group. With no concrete categories we can easily put ourselves in, even

Jewish is confusingly described as both a religious and racial alignments. You can be born Jewish, and not believe in Judaistic principles, and you can follow Judaism without being born by a Jewish mother. Or can you?

When the argument is made that Jewish is not a race, one often brings up the fact that they are the descendents from Israel, therefore they share common characteristics and therefore qualify as a race. But sharing a common origin is irrelevant in regards to racial status, as a race is defined as “a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics.” One might then bring up the argument that “all Jews look alike,” however this suggestion is both inaccurate and demeaning. There are no discrete characteristics that people who claim to be Jewish possess that non-jews don’t.

The fact of the matter is that Jewish is not a race, yet it is. That is because race is a social construct and has no biological significance whatsoever. Modern research has shown that there is no distinction between the DNA of different racial groups; In fact, there is more variance between people of the same race than between those of other races. In the scientific sense, race does not exist.

However, socially, it does exist, thus making race extremely subjective as it is open to interpretation. The Jewish group is one that defines itself, and that is a person whose mother is Jewish. But this definition is only as valid as the source defining itself. One must assume then that this self-identification that Judaism is attempting is valid. But how is this arbitrary identification any more valid than say, someone identifying everyone with a cleft chin as an “attack helicopter?”

The subjectivity of race and the complexity of humans allows anyone to identify themselves as a part of any group. With no concrete categories we can easily put ourselves in, even if you don’t believe in an interventionist God, do not understand Jesus as the son of God, and don’t accept the immaculate conception, the resurrection, or any literal interpretation of Jesus’ miracles, you can still call yourself a Catholic. The point I am trying to make is, one isn’t born Jewish, or even half-jewish, instead, they choose to be.