Who is a Jew?


“Who is a Jew?” is a question that you’ll see come up countless times in books, in online discussions et cetera. My answer to this question is mine alone, just as most other answers are that individual’s alone, but to me, this is more or less a question of what, more so than who. So what is a Jew, what constitutes one as a Jew, and why would a DNA confirmed individual need to undergo conversion if their own DNA says they are a Jew?

A Jew is a part of the Jewish people, they live as a Jew in the shared culture, most practice a branch of Judaism, and are a part of the Jewish community. As mentioned in previous writings, being a Jew means being a part of the peoplehood of the Jews, being a part of the national identity of the Jewish people. It’s because of this, that even with DNA results in hand proving one’s ethnic Jewishness if the individual has not been wholly exposed to Jewish culture and yet wants to be counted as a Jew, they will need to seek conversion.

So when asked “Who is a Jew” the answer is not a simple one or even an agreed-upon (universal) answer, and no Kvetching doesn’t qualify one as a Jew!

The Jewish people are diverse; there are Jews of every hue, sexual orientation, nationality (though all belong to Israel) in the diaspora, gender, socio-economic class, and the like. Jews are not a homogenous grouping, but rather a grouping of people with a shared cultural bond and often times a share religious bond as well. When going through the conversion process, you’re not joining a religion, you’re joining the Jewish people, it’s no different from moving to another country and going through naturalization. 

So who is a Jew in the grand scheme of everything? It depends on who you ask!