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To be a Jew...

by Rabbi Dov Greenberg


Library » Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew? | Subscribe | What is RSS?



Practically speaking, what does it mean to be a Jew?


To be a Jew is to be a moral and spiritual heir to those who stood at Mount Sinai, an heir to the world’s most ancient, resilient and awe-inspiring faith.

To be a Jew is to inherit a legacy which has shaped moral civilization and earned the universal admiration for its dedication to family, its commitment to education, its values of charity and social justice, and the belief that human life is sacred.

To be a Jew is to be part of a journey begun by Abraham and Sarah and continued by their children until today. This way of life can only be sustained through the Jewish family, and a conscious choice to build a Jewish home. A child who has been touched by Judaism's spirit of eternity would never willingly snap the link between the past and the future.

To be a Jew is to study the Torah and strive to follow in its ways. The renewal of Torah education is the only route to the renewal of the Jewish people. This is the greatest gift we can give to the Jewish past and the Jewish future.


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.