What is a Jew?
It’s a question that has been debated for centuries.
Is a Jew merely someone who follows the precepts of the Old Testament, or the Talmud?
Does a Jew have physical characteristics that can immediately identify their belonging to a “tribe?” Skin color? The slant of their eyes, the prominence of their nose? Are they physically inept, poor athletically, with stooped shouldered?
How about behavioral traits? Are Jews intelligent but in manipulative, miserly, sneaky ways?
Is a Jew a member of a race? A clan? A creed? A nationality? A people? A culture? An ethnicity?
A religion, for sure. But does someone become Jewish simply by converting? Are Chinese Jews really Jewish in all senses of the classification? Do naturally born Jews accept converts as Jews, as part of their race, clan, creed, nationality, culture, ethnic. Their people?
What about the converse? If a Jew converts to another religion, do they lose their Jewishness?
I’ll leave it to philosophers and experts far more discerning than I to postulate a definitive response to the central question of “what is a Jew?” in the aftermath of Whoopi Goldberg’s since recanted expression Monday that Jews cannot be considered victims of racism because their skin is generally white while to be a victim of racism one has to have colored skin (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/us/whoopi-goldberg-holocaust.html?referringSource=articleShare).
Attacks on Jews or their institutions are most definitely acts of ant-Semitism. But are these actions racism, as well?
There is a simple source to consult for the answer—Adolph Hitler and his Nazi code. In words and deeds Hitler and his henchmen in Germany and throughout Europe believed Jews were a race, an inferior race to be annihilated. Even Jews who converted. Even offspring of mixed marriages.
The Nazis were so dedicated to this racist doctrine that towards the end of World War II they diverted resources needed by their military so the extermination effort could continue unabated.
Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg’s naiveté, the question of racism in all its guises may be discussed more accurately and universally (https://forward.com/opinion/481849/whoopi-goldberg-holocaust-comments-were-wrong-education-comes-next/). It is a lesson far too many Americans and the world over must learn.