If being Jewish isn't considered an ethnicity, then can it be simple be considered a heritage?

My friend has a cousin who recently became a "born-again" Christian. My friend and her family are Jewish. My friend's immediate family isn't as religious as her cousin's family. Her cousin's family is Orthodox Jewish and they have kind of disowned her from their family. She says that even though she is not a practicing Jew, she still considers herself a Jew. She says that her upbringing (all those Jewish memories of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Hanukkahs, etc.) giver her the right to claim a Jewish identity. She doesn't consider herself a "Messaniac Jew" but a "Christian Jew", if you get what I mean. Do you think someone should be able to claim a Jewish identity even though they converted? Can it be considered both a religious and heritage group? I think she has the right to claim a Jewish identity but others don't. What do you think?


She's my friend's cousin not mine. All of my family is Irish Catholic.

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    That's as logical as calling one's self a Jewish Christian. If you were raised Christian & converted to Judaism, would you expect the person to still call themelves a Christian because they USED to celebrate Christmas?

    She could say her background is that she was Jewish & has converted. She could say she was raised Jewish. She's choosen to move away from the heritage, so she can only reference that as a past tense. Example: My Jewish upbringing influences me this way even though I am a Christian.

    Why do people have such a hard time giving up being Jewish when they convert? Do we have something that sinks in deep & keeps you committed to the religion, even when you think your not? She really should be more embracing of her new heritage, the one she'd be passing down to her children.

    Judaism is a family, community religion. She's left it. It's her background. The heritage IS the religion, so that doesn't work as well. Heritiage is something you inherit & own... So it works only as long as she's clear about it being past tense...

    Why it's a problem: Judaism is currently under assault from groups that claim to be practicing Judaism while they aren't. They say they have a right to call themselves Jews, even though most weren't raised Jewish AND it's not the heritage they are referencing -- they say they are practicing. It gets convoluted fast, & the best way to be respectful of Judaism is to not call yourself a Jew when you aren't a member of the community/religion any more. You aren't counted in minyan or buried in a Jewish cemetary.

    I hope she can come to more terms with her family over time.



    You can claim it as part of your family's background & it's cool that you found out. I'm glad your excited. There's a problem going on with messanics invading judaism that's making us Jews all cranky about using the words more carefully than we ever did before. Add to it that it was Hitler who defined Judaism as a race & ethnicity, not Jews, & we were killed for it. Sadly, you would have been too, even though your Christian. We don't want to use Hitler's definitions, hence the crankies!

  • marcus
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The person in question is no longer a Jew

    dpete33's answer is quite obnoxious and bigoted and displays a total ignorance of OUR religion as well as a hateful attitude toward it. He assumes that all Jews are descended from one person (Abraham) and thereby ignores the fact that one may convert into as well as out of the religion. One thousand years ago, my ancestors could have been Christians or pagans or anything else--I have no idea what their religion was and I don't care. Whether my ancestors became Jewish 500 or 5000 years ago I don't know and I don't care. I'm Jewish--that is all that is important to me. I also happen to be white if you want to classify me by race (but I am sure dpete33 would recognize no Jew as a member of any race other than "Jew" as do thankfully only a very few bigoted people).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    answer: she can describe herself as a child of Jews. She is NOT Jewish. She is now a Christian.

    If a Christian converted to Islam would you still consider them a Christian? If a devil worshiper converted to Christianity would you still call them a devil worshiper?

    Same thing.

    I'm sorry her family has disowned her, probably because they consider Christianity an idolatry religion. The truth remains - she's no longer Jewish because she no longer holds true to the covenant the Jews have with G-d.

    # # #

    Push - no, they are not Jews. They are Christians pretending to be a Jewish sect and J4Jesus are the worst, they intentionally deceive others. Calling yourself a toaster doesn't make you one.

    We acknowledge their existence and stand against them and their deceptive tactics when we can.

  • 1 decade ago

    Whoever said there are no such thing as Christian Jews is very wrong. There are plenty of groups that call themselves Jews for Jesus they have temples all over the country. Not that I feel this is right at all but there are

    Also no matter what she does she will always be a Jew because her mother was a Jew and in the Jewish religion if you mothers Jewish you are

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Judaism is as much a culture as a religion. She is no longer a practicing Jew, she has decided to become Christian. She can claim a Jewish heritage, but not claim herself to be Jewish at this moment, only Christian.

  • 5 years ago

    You are asking an opinion in the wrong category. Genealogy is the study and research of people within the same family lineage. It has very little to nothing to do with a persons religion. Jews are not a race called Hebrew, as that is a language and not a race. There are people who practice Judaism all over the world as it is a religion. If your friends cousin's ancestral background is French or Spanish or German and her family is Jewish then she is of that ancestry.

    She can consider herself anything she wants, but there is no such thing as a "Christian Jew" you see Christ was a Jew, he died a Jew and it was only after his death that the Christian religion evolved.

    Source(s): Genealogical researcher 40+ years and have extensive study in Judaism and the early history of the Jewish people.
  • 1 decade ago

    Here's how it works:

    There is NO SUCH THING as a 'christian jew'.

    Are there 'muslim catholics'?

    Are there 'protestant hindus'?

    No. And there are no 'christian jews'.

    Your cousin was born a Jew. Then, as is her right she *changed* religions. She is now a CHRISTIAN. Simple as that.

    And the Christian Evangelical Cult that calls itself Messianic 'judaism' is just that: CHRISTIAN.

    90% of Messianics were NEVER Jewish to start with.

    Your cousin does not unilaterally get to decide that suddenly, worshipping a dead Jewish preacher is a 'jewish' thing to do.

    It is not. It never was. It never will be.


    How can we be an 'ethnicity'? Which 'ethnicity' do a Black Ethiopian Jew, a Japanese Jew, an Indian Jew, and a white Swedish Jew share....?

    We are not an 'ethnicity'.

    We are a family, a religion and a people.

    Your cousin is now an EX Jew. I don't agree that her relatives should have disowned her, no.

    But you know what? They probably wouldn't have if she'd just be HONEST enough to define herself as what she now is: CHRISTIAN.

  • 1 decade ago

    I just found out last month that I am of a Jewish Heritage. It may be a religion but it also tells you about where your ancestors are from. Race, if you want to be technical, is a myth.

    I still consider myself a Christian but it's nice to know where my Grandmother's family is from and what they experienced...

    and if I can claim it after just finding out, why couldn't she?

  • 4 years ago

    Your African American by the way I think everyone in the world has a mixed ethnic heritage you say Nigerian though there is over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria so if you can call your mother Nigerian I dont see why you cant call yourself an African American or Black American

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If I became a Buddhist, then I would still be white. Right? Jews are the descendants of Abraham, and are an ethnicity. The RELIGION followed by most Jews is Judaism.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.