So you want a villa on the Mediterranean

Who knew!

Israeli immigration laws will accept an application for Israeli citizenship if there is proven documentation that any grandparent—not just the maternal grandmother—was Jewish. This does not mean that person is an “ethnic Jew”, but Israeli immigration will accept that person because he or she has an ethnically Jewish connection, and because this same degree of connection was sufficient to be persecuted as a Jew by the Nazis. See Jewish ethnic divisions.

This Wikipedia site has an interesting overview of what it means to be Jewish.  It is not as straightforward as one would assume.

In a related area, today I heard on the CBC (Tapestry) a program on Jewish aetheists, agnostics and ignostics.    Apparently a recent study in the United States determined that 17% of Jews are aetheists.    The same program indicated that the Sephardic Jews who were chased out of Spain into northern Portugal by the Catholics at the end of the 15th century  AD went on to university there and many became  aetheists, apparently the first in Europe.   Now I ask you, did it not cross anyone’s mind before that?  So far I have not attempted to confirm the information presented in that program. The program is available in a podcast .

From the Wikipedia entry cited above:

Who is a Jew?” (Hebrew: מיהו יהודי‎ pronounced [ˈmihu jehuˈdi]) 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 Nazis in Germany, and was addressed by the Nuremburg Laws

There are controversial aspects — to begin with, the question has a logical inverse, namely, “Who is not a Jew?” Recent court cases have gained particular prominence in connection with several legal cases in Israel since 1962,[1][2] and in 2009 there was a prominent and controversial court case, in the United Kingdom, about the question.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The definition of who is a Jew varies according to whether it is being considered by Jews based on normative religious statutes, self-identification, or by non-Jews for other reasons. Because Jewish identity can include characteristics of an ethnicity, a religion,[9] and citizenship, the definition of who is a Jew has varied, depending on whether a religious, sociological, or ethnic aspect was being considered.[10]

According to halakha, the oldest normative definition used by Jews for self-identification, a person is matrilineally a Jew by birth, or becomes one through conversion to Judaism. Adherence to this definition has been challenged since the emergence of the Karaite sect, emergence of modern groups in Judaism since the 19th century, and the creation of Israel in 1948. Issues that have been raised reflect:

  • Child’s non-Jewish mother: i.e. whether a child born of a non-Jewish mother should be considered Jewish through the father’s Jewish identity.
  • Conversion: i.e. what process of conversion other than the historically normative procedure according to Jewish law should be considered valid.
  • Historical loss of Jewish identity: i.e. whether a person’s or group’s actions (such as conversion to a different religion) or circumstances in his or her community’s life (such as being unaware of Jewish parents) should affect his or her Jewish status.
  • Diaspora identity: identity of Jews among themselves, and by non-Jews throughout the Jewish diaspora.
  • Claim to Israeli citizenship: the examination of the three previous issues in the context of the Basic Laws of Israel.

As indicated in an earlier post, we don’t yet have proof of patrilineal  Jewish ancestry but we have definitive proof of patrilineal  Semitic ancestry.


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