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Who is a Jew? facts for kids

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Who is a Jew? (Hebrew: ?מיהו יהודי) is the basic question about the identity of Jews, or in other words: which people are considered to be Jewish.

Question of race?

The definition of who is a Jew may depend on a few things. Because Judaism has no specific race, it can include characteristics of an ethnicity, religion, and citizenship, and so the definition of who is a Jew is not specific.

This question has been a subject to legal arguments, especially in Israel but also outside of it. There have been court cases in Israel since 1962 which had to address the question. In addition, the United Kingdom and other countries has had to consider whether the question was a racial issue or not.

In Nazi Germany

It was an important question to the Nazi party in Germany. The Nazis decided who a Jew was with the Nuremberg Laws.

My mom is Jewish or I converted

The question is based on the person's genealogy. Simple definition: a person is a Jew either by birth (in any case if one's mother is Jewish) or by religious conversion.

Other ideas

However, some disagree. Therefore, the following need to be taken into account:

  • Are the parents mixed (Jew and Gentile)?
  • What is the conversion process?
  • Has there been a loss of Jewish identity?
  • What is the person's diaspora identity?
  • Do they have an Israeli citizenship?

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