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Book: Jews

Chapter: 1. Who is a Jew?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35982


You might think the answer to the question ‘Who
is a Jew?’ is simple. But it isn’t. Jews have been
around for thousands of years, but there is considerable
uncertainty about who is a Jew. Whenever
I try to explain the complexities of Jewish identity
to my students, I take a toy rabbit to class. I hold
it up by its ears. And I ask: ‘What is this?’ They
say: ‘A rabbit.’ And I then ask them to list the
criteria for this toy being a rabbit and not something
else. The list includes: big ears, four paws,
whiskers, and so on.

Chapter Contributors

  • Peter Cave ( - pcave) 'The Open University and New York University (London)'
  • Dan Cohn-Sherbok ( - dcohn-sherbok) 'University of Wales (Emeritus Professor) and Rabbi'