The de-conversion story of an Ashkenazi Jew

August 31, 2008 at 6:25 pm 37 comments

Hi everyone!  My name is Shai, I am 23 years old, I live in a city near Tel-Aviv, Israel, and I am an atheist. As an atheist, I lack the belief in a god, gods, or any other supreme/supernatural being. I believe that everyone on the planet earth are godless creatures that were not created by anything and that the origin of life and its evolution are the product of purely natural processes.

Now that I’ve firmly depicted my worldview, I want to share with d-C’s readers why and how I adopted this rather unusual worldview. (if you lived in Israel, you’d know that it’s quite unusual, although, as far as I know, not illegal, to be an atheist)

I was born and raised in Israel. Since I read that this blog is mainly about Christian de-conversion, my story is probably going to be a bit alien to you. My atheism owes itself to 3 major factors: My personality, my upbringing, and some atheist asshole who sent me some websites about critical thinking and atheism.

First of all, let me tell you a bit about religion in Israel. Israel is defined as a “Jewish democratic state”. Although I bet it sounds to any American/Anglo-Saxon reader to be some sort of cynical euphemism for “Jewish Theocracy” – it’s not entirely true. Israel, on the whole, is a fairly secular nation. But that’s not because Jews are a jolly good bunch who know that personal freedom should trump religious dogma at all costs. First of all, we have organizations here in Israel that are entirely dedicated to removing religious impositions upon Israeli citizens. It is against the law to eat unleavened bread during Passover, whether or not it’s against the law, using a car during Yom Kippur is a creative way to commit suicide.

Jews, you see, were usually a persecuted people, we’re not very experienced at being goons, although pro-Palestinian activists might disagree.

The most important thing to realize about Israel, before I will tell about my own personal de-conversion story, is that secularism is very widespread in Israel. The reason it is so widespread is because a persecuted people does not have time to mince around with silly, useless dogma and mainly has to focus on staying alive. The fact that we’ve survived this long as some sort of homogenous identity (and I’m not a historian, but we do take mandatory Jewish history classes in high school here) is because survival as a people has always been some sort of major activity.

Jews, to my opinion, are a lot more obsessed with remaining a self-identified people (and even more importantly, a non-extinct people) than they are with God. That is Yahweh, the Jewish God.

It is also important to note that Jews have been persecuted for centuries, not just during WWII. A lot of Jews became assimilated into the European or Asian or African lands they migrated to (some 2000 years ago) – but a very large amount of exiled Jews remained Jews, to an extent, in secluded, xenophobic congregations spread throughout the entire old world.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because there is a very practical reason for Israeli Jews to be secularists. And, case in point, most of the Jews that migrated to Israel in the past 120 years (in Hebrew we call it “Aliyah” or “emigration to Israel”) were secular, mostly bourgeoisie Jews. Yes, a fraction of them were, truly, communists. There was some sort of pan-social worldview among these very secular Jews that dictates that all of us who migrated here should live a hard-working life and be, to a greater or lesser extent – equal.

This, of course, applied only to Jews. And frankly, I have no qualms with that. Jews were being asskicked throughout the pages of history up until we got our little patch of dry, bog-filled scrap of land. To be honest, we couldn’t have received a worst territory to colonize. But hey, the bible sez what the bible sez.

In any event, due to this culmination of circumstances, the Jews that actually built this country, and the Jews who are, more or less, the majority, the more well-to-do and basically, the most historically “senior settlers” are former European and Russian Jews. Or as we call them here – Ashkenazi Jews.

I won’t (unless there’ll be some popular demand for it, hmm?) dive any deeper into Jewish and Israeli history, since now my point has been made.

As an Ashkenazi Jew, I haven’t suffered the inoculation of religion that non-Ashkenazi Jews receive more vehemently. There are all sorts of sects in Judaism (I bet this reminds you Christians of something like Christian denominations) and Ashkenazi Jews are probably one of the most secular ones, although we do have our fundies, as well.

Now, just because I wasn’t inoculated with religion, doesn’t mean I wasn’t taught religion and forced to recite OT verses in class starting from 2nd grade. As a child in a school filled with all kind of Jewish peers – we all believed because Judaism and Jewish religious classes are mandatory in Israel for 11 out of the 12 mandatory years in elementary, junior, and high school.

That said – we all believed. Us secularists believed in it in the back of our heads, we spent holidays together and went to the synagogue and circumcised our sons (yes, I AM circumcised, if anyone’s been wondering) and we all did our bar-mitzvahs. I wouldn’t call it religious oppression. All in all, we didn’t suffer much and frankly, it could have been a lot worse, although in retrospect, I would much rather having a choice in the matter.

I was a secular Jew throughout my theistic years. As a secular Jew, I was also highly spiritual and had very strong faith in God (the Yahweh version, not the Jesus-fondling version) as the True God of the True People ™. A ridiculous idea, now that I think of it, as there are probably millions of “Jews” who are probably not Jews at all (if genetics have anything to say about it. Religion just says that if the mother is Jewish, then perforce so is the son. Never mind that the mother might herself be a result of a pogrom-related rape, something that Jews have endured for centuries)

If anyone here is still reading this lengthy foray, you might be thinking, and you’d be correct, that such a “lax religious environment” is high grounds for de-conversion. That’s right. Although I was religious up to the point where I started digging into critical thinking and science, I was always a very practical sort of person. I always wanted to adopt to myself any method of living that produces repeatable, evidence-based results. In that respect, I always had an itch for science. This is because besides being an atheist, I’m also a child of deaf adults. And being a child of deaf adults (CODA) in Israel is NO CANDY.

Since I was very young, my sister and I pretty much had to take care of the house and our parents. Their deafness and the problems it entailed were major factors in shaping my personality. As a child, I was forced from a very young age to produce results. Another good method of producing results is the scientific method – which is why this method has appealed to me so eagerly when I first came across it.

What eventually nailed the last nail in my Jewish coffin was being exposed to science (mainly Biology, can you believe that?) and to critical thinking. I became obsessed with questions relating to origins and evolution. I think I still am.

I think that atheism is the only product possible for an evidence-based worldview. I think it is easy to de-convert anyone who desires affirmable results. In that respect, these are good AND bad news. Those capable and skilled enough would never need the appeal to atheism because they will achieve their own ends anyway, and if they’re emotionally bound to either their figures of authority (who might be religious), then I can, with quite some certainty, predict that they’re “doomed”. Religion is not only the scourge of the ignorant. I think that anyone who is too deeply attached to those who have poisoned their minds with religion are almost never going to de-convert.

The reason I’m writing this epilogue is because I wish to share a message to anyone who is a de-convert . A message that is a call-to-arms and also a message of warning: religion or any other form of malign irrationality is not going anywhere because the bell-curve of humanity will always allow for individuals who will favor religion or irrationality over atheism and science. That said, atheists of all nations should unite in the struggle for rationality or, in the more extreme cases (if I was an atheist in Iran, I’d be hung) – a struggle for survival.

– freidenker85 (guest contributor)

Entry filed under: ~Guest. Tags: , , , , , , .

The sum of our hopes and fears Reasons why I de-converted and now consider myself an atheist

37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  August 31, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Welcome, Shai, and thank-you for sharing your story. It’s good to hear about how deconversion might come to, and affect, someone from a non-Christian background.

    It’s unfortunate that atheism can still be fatal in so many areas. While I have a hard time joining an atheist group (gathering together because of what we don’t believe), it is important to support each other’s right to not believe in what we have no evidence for.

  • 2. DeeVee  |  August 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Welcome Shai… an Israeli you maybe interested in knowing that there are more Atheist Muslims coming out of the closet. I truly think that all the problems in the middle east will be solved when there is NO religion in the ME or on this planet. I belong to a number of forums, and pay attention to MEMRI and Jihad Watch, etc…and astoundingly….more Muslims are professing great down up to and including there “is no god.”

    Also, I just a Turkisn film about how Islam drove a man insane. But, instead of calling him insane, a religious “sheik” states that he was on the path to enlightenment. It gets better….the man who went insane had a younger brother who was in some kind of war….and said: “I saw I saw babies and women die, begging Allah to save them. They died. Where was Allah?”

    Of course, the insane brother went further insane and began slapping the now doubtful brother in the face. But, what the real message is, is that the younger generation in such a nonsecular nation as Turkey is beginning to openly doubt there is a god/allah. Its about time.


  • 3. orDover  |  August 31, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing you story, Shai!

    I wonder if anyone is going to come here and say that you weren’t a “true Jew,” since that seems to be the most common line of defense for the religious who can’t understand why anyone would de-convert.

  • 4. freidenker85  |  September 1, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Thanks so much for all your comments. I’d like to comment on the third one, first, since that one really hit a nerve:

    In Israel, amazingly enough for such a small country, we have an almost unbelievable (if it weren’t true) political and religious divide. I’m talking only about Israeli Jews, here. In a way, it’s almost safe to say that Atheist Jews are just another sect in Judaism, since some secular Jews are tellingly careless about their religion and more to the point: about their belief in God.

    Some Jews would say it’s even worse than Atheism.

    In any case, I believe religious Jews might say that I was never a true Jew, but secular Jews won’t say it at all, being “just as Jewish as I was”. There is, however, one branch of the Jewish population that I’m sure would unanimously say that I was never really Jewish, and that is the “Haredim” or “ultra-orthodox” Jews.

    I was working as an interpreter in Jerusalem last year, seeing these guys every day as I passed by their creepy neighborhoods on my way to work. These guys are sure that they’re only real Jews on the planet, and they’re actually AGAINST the Jewish state because it was “built by humans” and not brought up by the Messiah (we’ve been waiting for that dude for a while) – so to them, it’s a horrible sin to build a Jewish country without God’s approval. In some cases, they even called “us” (that is “secular Jews”) heathens.

    Regarding the first and second comments:
    I think Atheists should stick together. Not because of what we don’t believe, but because of what we DO believe: we all have faith in an evidence-based reality. Such faith is fragile in the face of a huge majority of believers in a non-evidence based reality. That is why we must unite for a common cause for what we DO believe in. Not believing in God is just a consequence of our worldview.

    To DeeVee, I just want to say that I am shocked to hear about Muslim atheists… If I was living in an Arab country, I would probably NEVER de-convert. In Islam, sacrilige is a lot more dangerous than in any other religion.

  • 5. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    we’ve been waiting for that dude for a while

    Funny, since Christians have been waiting for him to come back for a while, too, ignoring the Preterists.

    It’s really a shame the No True Scotsman fallacy is so ubiquitous.

  • 6. jfatz  |  September 1, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Raised in Reform Judaism here, myself, though as you can imagine the experience is quite different than Israel. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’d piggy-back off it if my own wasn’t so boring (more of a “redefining what I was as I got more exposure as I grew up” than anything else), but it’s always nice to get exposure for all faiths and all countries.

    I wouldn’t mind hearing more about your experiences with said “atheist asshole,” though. 😉 I’m sure a lot of us come off that way, but it’s always nice to hear from people who appreciate the debate and critical thinking we tend to get into online.

  • 7. edwinhere  |  September 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Welcome aboard.

    Atheism never took foothold in minds because we did not evangelize it. Instead we remained complacent thinking that reality would defend us. Who would have thought that reality would need defending?

    I propose a massive counter apologetics program deep into the middle of the bell curve. Down there people are complacent like we were and assumes everything gets defended by somebody who knows better than them.

  • 8. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Could someone help me out here. The writer identifies himself/herself as a Jew. Now isnt Judaism a religion, so calling yourself a Jew is the equivalent of following Judaism isnt it? If they are to classify themselves, wouldnt Israeli being a more apt description?

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  September 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm


    The writer identifies himself/herself as a Jew. Now isnt Judaism a religion, so calling yourself a Jew is the equivalent of following Judaism isnt it? If they are to classify themselves, wouldnt Israeli being a more apt description?

    For many of the Jews I have known, it’s more of an ethnicity, a shared cultural heritage. I’ve known many who were immensely proud of their cultural traditions, but really didn’t give a flip about the religious practices. Of all the jews I’ve known, only one of them takes the belief aspects seriously. (Or even keeps Kosher! )

  • 10. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Ubi Dubium

    “I’ve known many who were immensely proud of their cultural traditions, but really didn’t give a flip about the religious practices.”

    But the basis of those Traditions are from the Religion. The only reason Jews can have any claim on Israel is if they use their Biblical heritage. And is it any wonder why so many fights start from that Ideology. You cant have it both ways, either youre an atheist or a Jew, not both.

  • 11. Quester  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Well thank-you, John T., for giving your ruling on that. We may all now breathe easily, knowing that a judgment has been made from a knowledgeable source. Surely, all we need for peace in the midst of warring ideologies is to send you into the middle of them, so you can tell them that they are wrong. In fact, it is selfish for us to keep you here when you could be going out and spreading your message of accuracy and peace. Go out, John T., and tell the world. We will survive here, without you, somehow.

  • 12. Ubi Dubium  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm


    But the basis of those Traditions are from the Religion. The only reason Jews can have any claim on Israel is if they use their Biblical heritage. And is it any wonder why so many fights start from that Ideology. You cant have it both ways, either youre an atheist or a Jew, not both.

    The basis of those traditions may have started with a religion, but that’s not necessarily why people stick to them. Somebody can certainly be ethnically and culturally a Jew, and still be an Atheist. (I’m ethnically and culturally an Anglo, but I’m not an Anglican!)

  • 13. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm


    Was I wrong with my statements, and if so, how?

  • 14. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Ubi Dubium

    So are you a Christian Atheist?

  • 15. Ubi Dubium  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    “Christian” is too generic. Doesn’t really include anything about ethnicity, or cultural traditions or anything. Now “WASP” is a better fit for me. Hmm… WASP-Atheist. (Sounds like something out of Doctor Who!)

  • 16. Richard  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Hello, Shai, and welcome. I was expecially interested in your story because I have close family connections to Judaism (reform) and I have studied it a fair bit. I curious what your view and/or experience has been with more liberal forms of Judaism, such as Reconstructionist, who still hold on to all the God-talk and yet explicitly dont believe it God? In the US, a great many reform Jews still consider themselves deeply Jewish, and uphold the values (and some rituals of Judaism), but are , at best, agnostic.

    Judaism, it has always seemed to me, has room for that sort of thing much more than Christianity does — I would guess because Jewish identity is tied to a notion of “peoplehood” rather than adherence to doctrine. As such, it has avoided most of the devisivness and splintering pressures that have characterized Christianity.

    But I find it interesting. God as a selfconscious projection of human values would seem to me (IMHO) to be a viable alternative for those who find the rituals, values, social aspects, inspirational power, etc of religion to be valuable, yet cant rationally affirm the beliefs. Judiasm, it seems to me, does not requiring affirmation of belief, most of the time.

    (Forgive me if I overstep my knowledge — my exprience is entirely with American Jews and (truth be told) with reading, so maybe Im out of touch with Israeli experience.)

  • 17. Richard  |  September 2, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    john t. –
    As a clarification, it is an empirical reality that there are atheist Jews. There is even a society for humanistic Judaism, and one of the main branches of judaism, reconstructionism, is built on the premise that “God” is a way of talking about human values.

    In any evernt, Judaism does not define itself it terms of any particular belief. It *has* traditionally defined itself in terms of adherence to *practice*, but since the Reform movement of the 19th century, that has waned considerably, at least among liberal Jews (which are the majority in the US).

    Traditionally, Jewishness is passed on by rules of birth. Exactly what those rules are is a matter of debate among various groups.

  • 18. Courtney  |  September 2, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Since the subject has to do with Jews can you answer a question?

    If Kosher food has been blessed by a Rabbi, has vulcanized rubber been blessed by a Vulcan? I’m just curious.

  • 19. Obi  |  September 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    John T. —

    Yes, you’re wrong. Judaism is a religion. Jews are what one calls the adherents of Judaism, but they are also an ethnic group. As such, there can be and indeed are many atheist Jews. In fact, I know one myself.

  • 20. Obi  |  September 2, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Courtney —

    By the way, vulcanized rubber is named after the Roman god of the forge, Vulcan (with his Greek equivalent being Hephaestus) due to the fact that it’s essentially baked in the process of its production. So, it would be blessed by Vulcan, not a Vulcan. I had this feeling that you were thinking Star Trek…


  • 21. Quester  |  September 2, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    John T.,

    As Shai has already informed you, a person is considered Jewish if his mother is. If you continue to feel you know more about what qualifies someone as Jewish than a Jew in Israel, perhaps check and look up “Judaism”. The religion is part of it, but not exclusively.

  • 22. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Obi, Ubi and Richard.


    an ethnic quality or affiliation resulting from racial or cultural ties; “ethnicity has a strong influence on community status relations”

    Ok Other than the religion, what Cultural or racial ties do a Russian Jew, Polish Jew, African Jew, Asian Jew have in common? There are no ties other than the rituals practiced from the faith itself, is that not correct? So why would the adherents to this faith be any different than lets say christianity? Technically you could have a society for Humanistic Christians, couldnt you?

  • 23. Ubi Dubium  |  September 2, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve never known any evangelizing Jews, or Jewish missionaries. I’ve never heard of Jews actively trying to win converts. It’s just not part of their religion. They are the “chosen people”, and they are not commanded to go convert the rest of the world. Most Jews were born to Jewish families, and they encourage their children to marry other Jews. Converts are rare. They share culture and ethnicity because they share ancestry.

  • 24. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 6:58 pm


    Now you seem to think Im implying I have all the answers, what Im trying to find out is why do some Jews seem to get a pass when it comes to applying their faith. Correct me if Im wrong but you cant be a Jew unless you at least somewhat tie yourself to the religion, Correct?………”The religion is part of it, but not exclusively.”(Quester). Now I know there are other aspects that go along with it( I lived in and around a Jewish community for much of my life). It just seems that some of the bloggers on here are subtley implying that being a Jew is different than being a Christian, and all I see is that they both base their morals and values originally on their ancestral Religion.

  • 25. Obi  |  September 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    John T. said,”…some of the bloggers on here are subtley [sic] implying that being a Jew is different than being a Christian…

    Really? I would have never thought that was the case! Maybe Hindus are different from Zoroastrians too?!?

    Haha, anyway…

    And if that’s not enough,”The Jewish people is an ethnoreligious community rather than solely a religious grouping…“.

    Give up whenever you feel like it, mate. We’re in no rush.

  • 26. Richard  |  September 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    John t.-
    My I gently suggest that your conception of what counts as a “legitimate” group-identity has been heavily shaped by Christian norms?

    That was certainly the case with me, and it was a bit intellectually jarring when I realized that Judaism didn’t work by the same sorts of rules – i.e., group membership based on religious affiliation, in turn based on common belief.

    But Judaism doesn’t work that way. There are no creedal affirmations in Judaism. Even in the most traditional and conservative forms of historic Judaism, there were a relatively wide range of “acceptable” and tolerated views about God’s nature. Proper *behavior* was more tightly defined, but proper *belief* was not (relatively speaking).

    Once you think about it, it becomes clear that religious membership is purely a social construct. In other words, there is nothing “out there”, in nature so to speak, that membership (or lack thereof) correlates to. Its just the variable cultural norms and definitions humans apply that makes one a Christian, or not, or a Jew, or not. It is, in the end, pretty arbitrary.

    Religious membership based on common belief feels normal to you only because youre used to it. That’s the way Christianity works. But its not somehow more “natural” than any other rule that defines membership. Which is not to say its unnatural, either. Christians define membership by shared belief. Jews do it by birth – and, in conversion, by commitment to leading a Jewish life, not affirming a Jewish creed. The usual Jewish term for it is “peoplehood” – implying a common lineage and common sense of familial membership. Not quite an “ethnicity”, not a religion.

    Ther point is, there is no larger right or wrong answer here. There are only the contingent, arbitrary, and shifting human definitions that get applied.

  • 27. john t.  |  September 2, 2008 at 10:44 pm


    Thanks for the outline. Im not actually basing my idea on Christianity per se, Im kind of taking it from an overall view of Religions. People do convert to Judaism although it is quite rare. So how does that fit in. And werent all the early Christians actually Jews because their Mothers were, or are you no longer a Jew if you decide to take on another religion regardless of who your mother was? Im challenged by the descriptions because as I see Israel now, its formation is dependant on its ties to the Religion of Judaism. So im curious how does the author of the post reconcile the fact that his Homeland is only his because his past religion says it is.

  • 28. sequiturblog  |  September 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I’ve never known any evangelizing Jews, or Jewish missionaries. I’ve never heard of Jews actively trying to win converts.

    I guess you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the Jews for Jesus group that frequently proselytizes on my university campus.

  • 29. HeIsSailing  |  September 2, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    sequiturblog, Jew for Jesus is made up, by and large, by Christian converts from Judaism. They are most definitely evangelistic Christians.

  • 30. Mike  |  September 3, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Quester (#21),

    Okay, because it came up and I have been eternally curious, lets discuss the Jewish lineage idea being matrilineal (passing from mother to child). I asked a Rabbi about this once, and she told me that it probably stemmed from the book of Ezra, where the children of foreign women were sent away when the Temple was rebuilt. The thought is that the Jews would not have sent away Jewish children, therefore the children of non-Jewish mothers must not be considered Jewish. The problem with this explanation is that it neglects the Jewish Apocryphal writings. The book of Tobit, written after Ezra but about 200 years before Jesus, clearly discusses Jewish lineage along the male line and not the female. If the matrilineal philosophy originated with Ezra, why reverse it 300 years later and then back again? Can anyone help me out here?

  • 31. Richard  |  September 3, 2008 at 9:26 am

    John t-
    In answer to your questions (and please remember I am *not* an expert, so if anyone out there knows better than me, I invite correction):
    One can convert to Judaism even in nontheistic or “symbolically” theistic branches of Judaism. Its simply a commitment to lead a Jewish life, however you interpret that, according to Jewish ideals, however you interpret that. It’s a joining of the Jewish people, something like, maybe, marrying into a family. Judaism as a whole tends to invite dissent and argument. The old joke: “Two Jews, three opinions.”
    I don’t know what the practice was in early Judaism. Today, most US Jews, at least, apropos the family metaphor, will consider you Jewish no matter what other religion youre in. As I understand it, this is more from a communal sense of belonging and loyalty; it is not a metaphysical claim. I.e., not “youre really a Jew no matter what you think”, but more “Youre one of our own and we always want you back.” Jews – at least the Jews I know – tend to feel personally connected to other Jews, even those they’ve never met. When something happens to a group a Jews (say, a bombing) it tends to feel somehow personal to even very distant Jews in a way that has no real analog in American life. But maybe kind of life you or I might feel upon reading that Americans were being targeted in a foreign country: “hey, they’re one of us!”
    Whatever the causes of the founding of modern Israel, an Israeli’s homeland is now his (the author’s) because it was founded by the UN in 1948 and recognized as a modern nation-state by almost (but not all) other nations. A lot gets confused in all the talk about historic homelands and whatnot, but the bottom line is that modern Israel is a modern nation.

  • 32. Richard  |  September 3, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Mike — let me take a stab at your question. As I understand it (and I dont have my sources here in front of me) the question of Jewish lineage has changed, at least once or two, probably several times throughout Jewish history.

    There were times when descent was patrilineal, at other times it was matrilineal. I dont know why or when they changed, sitting here, but I imagine the reasons for that change were social and communal and perhaps political.

    The authority for these changes came from that fact that in Judaism, authoritative interpretations rest with the current generations rabbinate. There was always, of course, an effort by those rabbis to retrospectively intepret the scriptures as supporting of this position, but the community always (and still does) view the current rabbinate as having legitimate authority to do so.

    I.e., there is no solo scriptura idea in Judaism. Their model is more similar to that of the Catholic Church, wherein the church Fathers (and the current Pope) is seen as having the authority to set official interpretations of the Bible.

    Currently, the dispute within Judaism regarding this issue is between the conservative and orthodox (which recognize the most-recently-“traditional” matrilineal descent) and Reform (mainly in the US, but comprising a very large number of Jews with a lot of financial clout) which, true to more liberal values, recognizes both matrilineal and patrilineal descent. And the issue is important because of Israels “right of return” — i.e., any Jew in the world can get offical citizenship to Israel anytime they wish, if they move there…*providing* that they meet Orthodox (who have influence in Israel) standards of lineage.

  • 33. Mike  |  September 3, 2008 at 11:34 am


    I knew some of that (nature of Rabbinical authority) but the political aspect as well as the ideological split was unknown to me. I appreciate the insight and clarification.

  • 34. atheistjewingermany  |  September 4, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Glad to hear that the author used his brain and arrived to the conclusion that God does not exist. You call it a de-conversion, I call it rational thinking.

    “As an Ashkenazi Jew, I haven’t suffered the inoculation of religion that non-Ashkenazi Jews receive more vehemently.”
    Could you elaborate on that one ? I don’t see the difference between an Ashkenazi atheist and a non-Ashkenazi atheist…

    Thanks to Obi for the links :)))

    Obi wrote September 2, 2008 at 7:52 pm
    And if that’s not enough,”The Jewish people is an ethnoreligious community rather than solely a religious grouping…“.

  • 35. freidenker85  |  September 16, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    wow, I should have checked back here earlier!

    john t.

    Listen, Jewish is both a religion AND an ethnicity. Jews have been so secluded in the past 2 millenia that we’re actually a large extended family. Especially ashkenazi jews with their own genetic diseases (Tai-Zacks).

    FYI, there were Christian (!) Jews (I know, I’m rubbing my eyes too) that were also sent to death camps in WWII, you can escape your synagogue, but you can’t escape your heritage :/

    ““As an Ashkenazi Jew, I haven’t suffered the inoculation of religion that non-Ashkenazi Jews receive more vehemently.”
    Could you elaborate on that one ? I don’t see the difference between an Ashkenazi atheist and a non-Ashkenazi atheist…”

    Well, there’s a lot of Jewish sects in Israel, many of them highly fundamentalist – as in the Ha’redim (or “ultra-orthodox” as I’ve heard them called in English) and, well, any crackpot orthodox Jew.

    The good thing about Israel is that his country puts religiosity with that cat-in-the-dumpster kind of piggy greed that’s been a survival trait in Jews for millenia – we’d do ANYTHING if it helps us survive – so we’re more scientifically inclined than most of the countries near us (which are, well, enemies. They don’t need science, they got numbers)

  • 36. Parker  |  April 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I think the founding of Israel was derived from an agreement the British made with other neighboring nations in 1916, after they inherited the land from the Ottomans.

    Truth is, if we hadn’t kicked their behinds around the map for 2000 years and lied our asses off, there probably wouldn’t be an Israel.

    Even atheists hate Jews, so that won’t solve the problem. I think they prefer the atheist Jews but that’s still just amounts to a smart “Jew.” Practicing Christians are held to a different light (no bad genetics involved.)

    Let’s face it no one is nearly as hysterical about the invasion of India by Muslims 1000 yrs ago or their on going torture and assaults on Hindus (an estimated 2.5 million slaughtered in ’71.) Hardly a blip on the radar.

    Can it be Christians like and respect the power game? Say what you will about the crusades but it was one hell of a party. We smashed the Cathars into obliteration but those damn persistent Jews…

  • 37. Eve's Apple  |  April 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Well, according to the New Testament (especially the Book of Acts), the Jews of that time had nothing better to do than go around persecuting Christians. But if those early Christians were as obnoxious as some of the ones I know, I’m not really surprised that the Jews got fed up with them.

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Attention Christian Readers

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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