As a Noahide who loves G-d, Torah and the people of Israel, I'm wondering if it isn't time to stop referring to Judaism as a religion.

Consider how often Judaism is referenced as one of, "the world's three great religions" and how the words---unchallenged----promote a kind of relativism that allows true observance of Torah to be lumped into the same category as Christianity and Islam. The West also promotes this idea, they bring the whole of Torah-belief and practice down to their level, especially here here in America where politicians tout the misapplied doctrine of "separation of church and state". The latter concept reinforces an idea that their is, somehow, a disconnect between the two for any credible nation. In reality, a genuine Torah government would never separate belief and law or faith and everyday life.

Calling Judaism a religion fails to recognize that the Jews constitute a genuine nation, in every sense of the word.

I cannot find any place, in the Torah, where G-d told Avraham Avinu that he would make him the father of a great religion. The promise was always positioned as nationhood. Four-hundred thirty years after that promise was made to the great patriarch, his descendants stood at Mt Sinai and HaShem told the people they would be a nation of priests.

By debating this issue with Christians and engaging in their faulty understanding of what constitutes a Jew, we allow the debate to continue unabated. Their entire argument is couched in spiritual terms
that even they don't understand. They dwell in a world where it's more important to think and feel a certain way. The Jew has always been taught, in essence, what you do is what you believe. At Har Sinai Israel agreed to first DO and then HEAR.

Saying that one is a Jew should be understood as meaning the exact same thing as saying that one is American, Japanese or any nationality. In fact, when a person converts (another unfortunate term) to Judaism, they become a naturalized citizen of a great and ancient commonwealth still thriving today. The convert is subject to all of the laws of that commonwealth. Just as the children born to a naturalized citizen are automatically considered citizens of their parent's adopted nation, children born to converts are considered Jewish. Obviously, there are certain things a convert or children of converts cannot do but, again, there are similar statutes in the American constitution. For example, a naturalized American citizen cannot hold certain public offices. This recalls the Torah commandments in respect to the Kohanim.

A Jew can make the same claim as any nation--they have a set of laws covering every aspect of daily life and they have a land in which to practice those laws. However, there is one elegant and amazing difference: Any law that I observe--for example---obeying a traffic sign, does only one thing--it maintains order. But when a Jew keeps a Torah law, even one that might be viewed as the simplest mitzvah---that Jew brings down holiness into the world!

Israel is unique in this way and also unique by virtue of the fact that they are the only nation in history that was created by G-d. What a marvelous thing this is. This idea of nationhood is so elementary, so basic, that it can be seen in the even worst English translations of the Tanakh.

Finally, I would add that being Jew has very little to do with skin color. Keeping in mind that there is a position of leadership firmly established by G-d with the Twelve Tribes and all their attendant rights under Torah Law. On the other hand, there are a myriad of flesh tones and bloodlines who have become a part of this holy nation.

Clearly, there must come a day when, the modern State of Israel will have to grasp the concept of true Jewish nationhood. It will happen only when every Jewish family in the galuth books a ticket and boards a plane for the land that the Creator gave them--eretz Israel.

Most importantly, a genuine Jewish nation will only emerge when the Jews living in eretz Israel demand a Torah government. In the meantime, the debate might take a more instructive turn if the Christian who argues for the merits of becoming a Christian versus being a Jew were simply told, "I'm sorry, you are asking me to betray my nation. I belong to the nation of Israel and what you are asking is treason!"

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Thanks for this Jim! This is a topic certainly worthy of a forum, but we've also posted this piece as a JI blog posting
In Hebrew we always refer to ourselves as Am Yisrael , the People of Israel. For some reason the English version hasn't stuck as well. However we should note that many Christian groups choose to sing to Israeli Jews the Hebrew song "Am Yisrael Chai " ( The Nation of Israel is alive ) , but their main emphasis seems always to be on the second part of the song "Od Avinu Chai" (Our Father is still alive).
Excellent, Jim!

I get so very tired of idiots who say things like, "well, we cannot define What Is A Jew." We know exactly what a Jew is, because it is defined for us through our religion, and it is our religion that defines us.

As I wrote on my web site, http://WhatJewsBelieve.org, which is translated into Spanish at http://CreenciaJudia.org ::::

A Jew is a member of a nation defined by the religion of Judaism. Let me explain:

First, understand that I am not talking about a nation meaning a country (like the STATE of Israel), which is defined by borders and passports. Rather, I am talking about a nation in the same sense we understand it in relationship to the Native American Indians. For them, we used to use the term "tribe," but the term "nation" is more accurate. For the Jews, the analogy to a nation is a perfect analogy, because that, indeed, is what Gd told Abra(ha)m Gd would make Abra(ha)m into, in Genesis 12:2, "And I will make of you a great NATION...." We are a nation, a nation defined by our religion. Please note that the verse does not read, "And I will make you a great ETHNIC GROUP," nor does it say, "And I will make you a great CULTURE." We are, and were made by Gd, to be a Nation, as our religion defines us through our Bible.

For a person to become a citizen of a nation the process is called Naturalization. To become a citizen of the Jewish nation, the naturalization process is called conversion to the religion of Judaism. On the other hand, just because a natural born "citizen" of this Jewish nation is totally non-practicing of the religion of Judaism, it does not mean that he or she is no longer a citizen, no longer a Jew, unless that person converts to another religion. This can be explained by taking a look at 4 analogies:

1. Andy is born in the U.S. of two U.S. citizens, but Andy moves to Australia. There he remains involved in every U.S. election, he knows every issue for his home city, his home county, his home state, and even on the federal level. He writes his congressional leaders, he has turkey on the fourth Thursday in November, and celebrates July Fourth with fireworks. Even though he lives in Australia, does Andy remain a U.S. citizen? Yes, he remains a U.S. citizen because he has done nothing to give up his citizenship.

Similarly, there are those Jews who actively pursue being Jewish, who affiliate, celebrate the holidays and holy days, life cycle events, etc.

2. Bert is born in the U.S. of two U.S. citizens, but Bert moves to Belgium. There Bert cannot care less about anything of, or from, the U.S., so long as Bert has a job and his food and his TV, Bert is quite content. Bert cannot remember who is president, much less what any issues there might be, does not even realize that the fourth Thursday in November means anything, nor does Bert think that July fourth is significant. Even though Bert lives in Belgium and does NOTHING to actively be a U.S. citizen, to express the values of democracy, etc., does Bert remain a U.S. citizen? Yes, he remains a U.S. citizen because he has done nothing to lose his U.S. citizenship.

Similarly, there are those Jews who do nothing Jewishly, who do not affiliate, but who remain, nevertheless, Jews, until such time as they convert to another religion.

3. Charlie is born in the U.S. of two U.S. citizens, but Charlie moves to China. There, Charlie does everything Charlie can do to overthrow the U.S. government. Charlie puts on sackcloth and ashes every July fourth, and ignores Thanksgiving. Charlie attempts to smuggle arms into the U.S. to overthrow it, and works to fight everything it stands for. Even though Charlie lives in China and works to destroy the U.S., does Charlie remain a U.S. Citizen? Yes, because working to overthrow the U.S. does not constitute grounds to lose one's citizenship. Those U.S. citizens who oppose the U.S. in this way, merely go to jail.

Similarly, there are those Jews whose actions could be, and are, detrimental and destructive to Judaism and to the Jewish People but again, they nevertheless remain Jews.

The ONLY time that Andy, Bert, or Charlie would ever lose their U.S. citizenship is if, and when, they accepted the citizenship of another country, an act that usually renounces their U.S. citizenship. Of course, the U.S. recognizes dual citizenship in some instances with certain countries, but Judaism and the Jewish nation do not recognize dual citizenship at all, and the act of accepting another faith removes that person from "citizenship" in the Jewish "nation." A Jew who has accepted the theology of another faith is no longer a Jew. (see Aryeh Kaplan, THE REAL MESSIAH, p.21, referencing Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5, and so stated by other rabbis in their Responsa as referenced elsewhere on this website).

4. Now, we come to Danny. Danny is born in the U.S. of a father who is a U.S. citizen, but Danny's mother is Dutch. At the age of 18 (or is it 17?) Danny must choose between Dutch and U.S. citizenship. But Danny cannot choose Brazilian citizenship because he was not born there, and because he has no connection through his mother or through his father to Brazil. So, according to international law, and U.S. law, we can obtain the rights for citizenship to countries through either the mother or the father.

By Jewish Law, citizenship rights in the Jewish nation only come through the mother, while inheritance rights, which are related to lineage, come through the father. An example of the latter might be for inheriting property or for being a member of a specific tribe, like that of Benjamin, or Levi, which come through the father.

The Jews are members, citizens, of a nation defined by that religion, even if they do not follow that religion. This is no different than citizens of the United States who do not exercise their right to vote. They may not do what one is supposed to do as a citizen, but they remain citizens.

One final note: as a Jew, one has been chosen by Gd to act as Gd's advertising agent in the world. Gd needs Jews to be a constant reminder to the rest of the world that Gd exists, and that Gd demands moral and ethical behavior from Gd's creation. Jews have a mission in the world. That mission, as defined by our covenant with Gd, is to be a light unto the nations, by our actions, and by our invitation to all others to join us in our mission by converting to Judaism and thereby becoming Jews. Those actions that make us a light to the nations are not merely ethical behavior on our part; they also serve to make us different, and "holy" means "different," through the observance of the commandments.
Interesting how Rav Yoseph B. Soloveitchik z"l did not refer to Judaism as a "separate religion" from Christianity, but rather he used the phrase "a totally independent faith community". Rav Steinsaltz prefers the term "family". And a lot of Jewish laypeople like to say they are "members of the tribe". Most Jews across the "religious" spectrum seem comfortable referring to themselves as part of "the Jewish people", and would probably feel a bit naked if their Jewishness was reduced to nothing more than a "religion". Peoplehood or Nationhood is certainly part of the package.
a new YOUTUBE Clip which says it all. Ani Yehudi.
WHAT A FANTASTIC SONG!

Jewish Israel said:
a new YOUTUBE Clip which says it all. Ani Yehudi.

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