What exactly are the Jews? The question baffles the layperson and the scholar alike. If we define them as adherents to a religion, then how can there be Jews who are secular (as most in America are)? And why all the signs of ethnicity—the resistance to intermarriage, the characteristic foods and modes of humor, and the focus on the State of Israel, for example? But if we define the Jews as an ethnic group or race, then why all the religious practices and...
The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.
Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.
Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.
Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School and the author, most recently, of Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Princeton University Press).