Originally posted by bluemirage5
reply to post by Kokatsi
Jews are not an ethnic people. They are unified only in religion and not by a unique culture but of many cultures.
The only Jews who share the same culture of the Arabians are the Middle Eastern and North Africans; they are the Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews.
I like your definition of "many cultures" but I probably interpret it slightly differently. There are many Jewish cultures in Budapest, for example.
You could say there are some common traits of Jewish cultures here: a bit more education, culture, a fondness for international novelties, languages,
psychology, radio and the arts... You could say in a positive sense that Hungarian Jewry is an important segment of Hungarian cultural elite. Nazism
all but exterminated the more uneducated Jewry - outside of the capital, in villages - Jews survived mainly in Budapest and a few larger cities
(although I have heard of know people who refused to wear a yellow MagenDavid during the war and survived).
It is rare to find the simple Eastern European Jewish shopkeeper these days. Most Budapest Jews (secular or religious) oppose and fear right-wing
antisemitic nationalism, and a lot of people have ties or relatives to/with Israel or America.
Religion is having a comeback, if for nothing else, its beautiful, life-supporting communal life, meaningful rituals (e.g. the elaborate P'sach
ritual) and a noted tolerance for children. I thought for a while of converting myself.
I met some religious Jewish people from Israel who did regard Jewry as an ethnicity.
Some strict Orthodox people - mainly those that lived abroad, e.g. in Israel, would go as far as saying that even Reformist Jews were not Jewish. Most
rabbis I met here were not like that though. However, definitions are manifold! In my town of birth, a Central European capital of about 2 million,
there are hundreds of thousands with Jewish heritage. For historical and cultural reasons, not a lot practice religion or now Hebrew but since
discovering roots have been a theme for quite a while, more and more people participate in traditional festivities. I take my daughter frequently.
So it is kind of complex to identify Jewish Hungarians. People who have Jewish fathers will say they are half-Jewish. People with a nonJew father will
not, but they used to, because by now they now they would count Jewish according to halacha.
One thing is sure: being a Jew is a definite identity here, it is related to the Mosaic religion but it is not simply identical with it, it exists in
the psyche, being a Jew matters and - it is difficult to define. Here Jewish people frequently have weird, German-sounding names - the Austrian
bureaucrats of the 19th century are said to be responsible for that.
The truth is found in many narratives. Let me reconstruct something I heard from several friends of my wife.
The friend learns late in her life that she came from a Jewish family. They were hiding as Christians for a while and they pretty much were not
religious in the late Soviet dictatorship. Jewishness was still not emphasized in the family during the seventies and eighties due to the still
existing antisemitism. Maybe an antisemitic classmate taunted them that they must be Jews then tehy went and asked their parents. Israel was far away,
expensive to go, few could make the journey, and the government frowned upon Zionist organizations. She says, "since I am basically Jewish, that
explains a few things in my life! So I might go look around in Israel..." When she arrives, she finds there that people will also speak English and
she will be classified "Hungarian". "How odd, she says, I never thought of myself like that at home, but maybe because I am Jewish..." On her
return, she finds that her pop was only half Jewish. OK. Still here. Contemplating aliya, boyfriend is a factor who does not take this seriously but
has probably some Jewish roots themselves... Etc.
You read stories like this in Jewish socilology and you could soon coin the following beautiful slogan:
To be a Jew, it means a thousand cultures.
People that see me here frequently assume I am Jewish. (Actually people still find out hidden relatives from over a hundred years back.)