Who is a Jew?  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Emergency Rescue Committee, Righteous among the Nations, brain drain, European migration to America, German Jews who emigrated to the United States to escape Nazism, Refugees from Nazism, Who is a Jew?

"Who is a Jew?" is a basic question about Jewish identity and considerations of Jewish self-identification. The question is based in ideas about Jewish personhood which themselves have cultural, religious, genealogical, and personal dimensions. The question was of importance during the rule of the Nazi party in Germany and was addressed by the Nuremberg Laws.


Some people use the term "half-Jewish" to describe a person who has one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent. The use of the term is regarded as controversial.

The term has no significance as a religious category. While the various Jewish denominations have different rules which determine the status of children of mixed unions, all versions of these rules agree that a person is either Jewish or not. As a result, many Jews reject the use of the term "half-Jewish," some maintaining that it has historical racial connotations. (See racial antisemitism and Limpieza de sangre.)

Most people who use the term are unaware of the racial connotations of the term, and the anguish it causes to some Jews aware of the connection. Others use the term to imply that Jewishness is more of a cultural or ethnic identity than a religious one. People of mixed heritage may not fully identify as Jewish, regardless of whether they embrace Judaism as a religion. In the United States, because of intermarriage, the population of "half-Jews" is beginning to rival that of Jews with two Jewish parents, especially among young children. "Half-Jewish" is said to be emerging as an independent identity with its own traits of tolerance and adaptation, but also perhaps a sense of detachment, spiritual indifference, or unclear identity.

Other similar terms that have been used include: "part-Jewish" and "partial-Jews". The term "Gershom", "Gershomi" or "Beta Gershom" has also been used as an alternative to "half-Jewish" and "part-Jewish" in connection with descendants of intermarriage, Gershom being the son of Moses and his Midianite wife Zipporah.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Who is a Jew?" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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