Name three aspects of Jewish history before the Holocaust.
Before the Holocaust Jews were present in every country in Europe. A high number of Jews were concentrated in Eastern Europe, majorly Russia, Romania, and Poland. Most of them settled in towns referred to as shtetls. They lived a simple life focused on traditions, family, religion, and the community. The population of Jews in Eastern Europe was sizeable. Those in England and Germany were assimilated by the existing cultures (Robinson, 2016). Therefore, they became detached from some Jewish traditions and acquired education.
Is being ‘Jewish’ a religion, ethnicity or culture? Please explain.
Being Jewish is a culture that encompasses religion and tradition. Not every white person is a Jew. There are people of color who are Jews. One can only distinguish a Jew from a non-Jew through interaction because of their way of life. Further, Jewish traditions have been passed along from one generation to another.
Distinguish among Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jewish faiths in terms of social characteristics and religious practices and beliefs.
Orthodox Jews are stringent. They follow traditional beliefs and religion strictly. This is depicted in their manner of dressing and appearance. On the other hand, reformed Jews are much more lenient. They gained prominence in the nineteenth century with the intention of combining Judaism with the ideas of western civilization. They focus on ethics rather than traditional practices and religion (Wertheimer, 2018). Conservative Jews are a blend of the two. They retain most practices and traditions and institute some reforms.
Most minority groups regard acceptance as a positive outcome. Why do some Jewish Americans seem threatened by being accepted in contemporary Gentile society?
Most Jews fear being accepted into the contemporary gentile society because of the persecution during the Holocaust. At the same time, Jews feel threatened by current trends that threaten the fabric of their religion and traditions (Chaves, 2017). They do not want to dilute their culture after striving to remain afloat for many years despite the discrimination and persecution.
Apply the concept of marginality to Jews. How does the cultural heritage of the Jews factor into marginality?
Jews are a marginalized group. Their
traditional practices and traditions are distinct from the rest of the world.
Due to assimilation and reform, the Jewish population has significantly
dwindled around the globe such that their cultures and traditions are now at
risk of extinction (Chaves,
2017). The fabric of the Jewish society is not as strong as it used to be. While many Jews may
still exist, not many of them are keen to follow their traditions and
Chaves, M. A. (2017). American religion: Contemporary trends. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Robinson, G. (2016). Essential Judaism: Updated Edition: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Wertheimer, J. (2018). The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice their Religion Today. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.