The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Jewish is a religion AND a race.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,201 times Debate No: 31664
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




There has been debate on the question of whether or not Jewish is a religion or a race. I am not Jewish by religion or race, but I definitely believe that it should be labeled as both.
There is the Jewish religion, made up predominantly by Jewish people. Jewish people are a race as well as a religion.

ex. Einstein was Jewish in race, but pantheist or deist in religion.

Also, you cannot be born into a religoin, but you inherit your Jewish race from your mother and cannot 'quit' that. You can, however, convert to the Judaism religion.


No religion can be actually be considered a race because no religion comes from one specific part of the world. Putting the Jewish faith into a race would imply that it has become a seperate ethnicity. Anybody anywhere can be Jewsish, just like they can be Christian, or Aethiest, or any other religion on the face of the planet. The definition of race is as follows: Any of the traditional divisions of humankind, characterized by supposedly distinctive and universal physical characteristics. In a simpler form of this, a race is a people that have come from a particular place in the world. Whereas, on risk of sounding like a broken record player, I repeat theat no religion can actually be a race.
Debate Round No. 1


Judaism is a religion in that it is a belief system with ritual and practice, and an underlying philosophy aimed at a connection to the divine and an adherence to divine command. Judaism is also a race in that membership in the system (even without belief) is passed through a genetic connection through the mother. You cannot choose not to be Jewish if you are born in.

However, because Judaism recognizes conversion, the religion cannot be purely racial as you cannot convert to another race. Therefore, it is easiest to say that it is a religion with racial/genetic components.

When defining anti semitic:
anti semitic
Web definitions
relating to or characterized by anti-Semitism; hating Jews.

Then, defining Jewish:
S: (adj) Jewish, Judaic (of or relating to Jews or their culture or religion) "He is Jewish"; "a Jewish wedding"

But what's a Jew?

Web definitions
(Jew) a person belonging to the worldwide group claiming descent from Jacob (or converted to it) and connected by cultural or religious ties)

Defining Christianity:
The religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or its beliefs and practices.

Jewish referred to denoting or associating with Jews or Judaism. Christianity, however, was described as a religion. Christianity is not a race - it's a religion. But Jew is a race as well as a religion.


You are just furthering my point, you cannot be a Jewish person as a race. You are saying that Jewish people genetically inherit being a Jewish person. Jewish people can be completely African or they could be an Eskimo, there is no such thing as an ethnc group of Jewish people, yes they may be connected, but only in religion.
Debate Round No. 2


Clearly, there is a religion called Judaism, a set of ideas about the world and the way we should live our lives that is called "Judaism." It is studied in Religious Studies courses and taught to Jewish children in Hebrew schools. There is a lot of flexibility about certain aspects of those beliefs, and a lot of disagreement about specifics, but that flexibility is built into the organized system of belief that is Judaism.

However, many people who call themselves Jews do not believe in that religion at all. More than half of all Jews in Israel call themselves "secular," and don't believe in God or any of the religious beliefs of Judaism. Half of all Jews in the United States don't belong to any synagogue. They may practice some of the rituals of Judaism and celebrate some of the holidays, but they don't think of these actions as religious activities.

The most traditional Jews and the most liberal Jews and everyone in between would agree that these secular people are still Jews, regardless of their disbelief. Clearly, then, there is more to being *Jewish than just a religion.

In the 1980s, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Jews are a race, at least for purposes of certain anti-discrimination laws. Their reasoning: at the time these laws were passed, people routinely spoke of the "Jewish race" or the "Italian race" as well as the "Negro race," so that is what the legislators intended to protect.

But many Jews were deeply offended by that decision, offended by any hint that Jews could be considered a race. The idea of Jews as a race brings to mind nightmarish visions of Nazi Germany, where Jews were declared to be not just a race, but an inferior race that had to be rounded up into ghettos and exterminated like vermin.

*Who is a Jew?

A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism.

Being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe and observes every law and custom of Judaism is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism, and a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox.

Traditional Judaism maintains that a person is a Jew if his mother is a Jew, regardless of who his father is. The liberal movements, on the other hand, allow Jewish status to pass through the mother or the father if the child identifies as Jewish.


The supreme court may have ruled their religion to be a race, but 40 yeas back they also erased the legal definition of race because A.) It was discriminatory. and B.)It has no legal base, race is more social and geographical than anything. So legally there is no such thing as a race. "More than half of all Jews in Israel call themselves 'secular,' and don't believe in God or any of the religious beliefs of Judaism." So are you, by stating this, saying that Jewish people aren't Jewish? If you are instead saying that being Jewish is not a religion, then you are opposing yourself in saying that "Jewish" is both a religion and a race. "They may practice some of the rituals of Judaism and celebrate some of the holidays, but they don't think of these actions as religious activities." So, again, Jewish people in America aren't Jewish? To end the point on the one thing I have been driving, Jewish people do not come from a geographical location on Earth, I know the mother passes on "being Jewish" but that was originated in the religion. There is no such thing as the Jewish race, at best it is a culture, which also is not a race.
Debate Round No. 3


My bad, I didn't deliver that last argument as clearly as I could have.
I never once stated that Jewish is not a religion. Readdressing what I stated earlier, "more than half of all Jews in Israel call themselves 'secular,' and don't believe in God or any of the religious beliefs of Judaism. Half of all Jews in the United States don't belong to any synagogue. They may practice some of the rituals of Judaism and celebrate some of the holidays, but they don't think of these actions as religious activities."
What I meant by this was, although people call themselves Jewish, which you are claiming is only a religion, half of the Jews in America do not practice Judaism religiously, but are still referred to as Jews because of their race. In simpler terms, if my mother was Jewish (making me Jewish), and I did not go to synagogue or practice the Jewish religion, I would still racially be classified as a Jew - but not religiously classified as Jewish.

"According to Jewish law, a child born to a Jewish mother or an adult who has converted to Judaism is considered a Jew; one does not have to reaffirm their Jewishness or practice any of the laws of the Torah to be Jewish. According to Reform Judaism, a person is a Jew if they were born to either a Jewish mother or a Jewish father. Also, Reform Judaism stresses the importance of being raised Jewish; if a child is born to Jewish parents and was not raised Jewish then the child is not considered Jewish. According to the Orthodox movement, the father"s religion and whether the person practices is immaterial. No affirmation or upbringing is needed, as long as the mother was Jewish."

This stresses my argument that Jewish is not only a religion, but also a race.


To reiterate, the Jewish mother-to-child "law" was born from the religion, which makes it more of a passing of the religion, not any actual gene that is passed. In races, every one has advantages and disadvantages. For example people of Scotland have lighter skin, because half of their year is pitch black, so they have fair skin to absorb more Vitamin D from the sun. The native people of Australia have darker skin, to deflect UV rays, since Australia gets too much sun. This is passed down in genes that change, according to the environment. The Jewish religion does not have a particular environment, and the argument that it is passed down from mother to child is somewhat irrelevant. It may be passed down, but nothing substantial is passed down, the faith is passed down, no genes are changed. To conclude, the Jewish religion does not:

1.) Come from a geographical location on Earth.
2.) Have any genes passed that are distinct to Jews.
3.) It is not defined by any physical features, they can vary from Caucasian to African American to Asian to Alaskan.

To bring up yet again the definition of race:
Any of the traditional DIVISIONS of humankind, characterized by supposedly DISTINCTIVE and universal PHYSICAL characteristics.

The closest thing to a race that can describe the Jewish religion is a culture, but definitely not a race.
Debate Round No. 4
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Yraelz 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Voting Pro. I think Pro is making a conclusive argument that Jews can exist outside of the religion and in fact that not Jews can convert to the religion but still not be Jewish in race. Con says in the final speech that the mother-to-child is purely religious but that doesn't preclude genetic passages which thwarts the arguments about 'like people'.