Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is Judaism Based on Faith or Ancestry?

I was recently talking with an Israeli friend about religion. He told me that Judaism is based entirely on faith, not ethnicity. He mentioned biblical converts to Judaism such as Ruth (grandmother of King David from Moab), Obadiah (from Turkey), Jethro (Midianite father-in law of Moses) and others. I found this conversation interesting.

One Jewish website agrees:

"Setting aside the emotional issues, Jews are clearly not a race.

Race is a genetic distinction, and refers to people with shared ancestry and shared genetic traits. You can't change your race; it's in your DNA. I could never become black or Asian no matter how much I might want to.

Common ancestry is not required to be a Jew. Many Jews worldwide share common ancestry, as shown by genetic research; however, you can be a Jew without sharing this common ancestry, for example, by converting. Thus, although I could never become black or Asian, blacks and Asians have become Jews (Sammy Davis Jr. and Connie Chung)."

Some people can claim that most Jews are descended from Abraham. There may be truth to this, however, Abraham was also from a different tribe / family. Indeed, even Abraham was a convert. Therefore, all Jews are either converts or descended from converts. Jesus put it well when he said, "And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Matthew 3:9).

What are your thoughts? Is Judaism based on faith or DNA?

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