Because Judaism is the racist of all religions. Because if your mother’s a Jew, then you’re a Jew, no matter what you do; you can covert to Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hari Krishna, and it won’t help you. You are still a Jew.
And, if you’re mother’s a Gentile, no matter if your father’s Jewish, you’re still, and forever, a complete Goy, Gentile, non-Jew.
And there’s no question, in Jewish law, of mixed marriages. It’s strictly forbidden.
So it’s all in the blood, a matter of race.
On the other hand, if you wish to become a Jew, if you’re crazy enough to join this crazy lot, and you like the philosophy, the way is open to you. And you may be white, black, Chinese or Hindu, you may well become a Jew. It won’t be easy – our religious courts would check & double check your sincerity, because we do not wish to Jewify the whole world. But if you persist – you’ll get there.
So, from that point of view, it’s all in the mind – and race & blood do not matter.
But what does it mean?
It means that blood “carries” philosophy in it. That someone who has real Jewish blood in him, in whatever he does or says, there would be something of the spirit of Judaism – even if he totally disassociates himself with it.
As musician and teacher, in this context I’m always reminded – and present as a good example – the music of the Jewish composer-genious Felix Mendelssohn. That guy had baptized his children (his granddad was founder of Reform-Judaism) and changed his name to Bartholdy, so as to hide his Jewish identity. But just listen to this and tell that’s no Jewish music!
No doubt, were he alive, it would not come to him as a compliment, but life’s tough.
On the other hand, our sages tell us that
מרדכי היהודי??? – ללמדך שכל הכופר בעבודה זרה נקרא יהודי
Why was Mordechai called “The Jew”? That’s because any one who denounces pagan worship is called “Yehudi”
The word for Jew in Hebrew is” Yehudi”. That word has a resemblance to the word for uniqueness – “Yechud”; so Mordechai, even though he was not of the tribe of Yehuda, is called nevertheless “Yehudi” because he denounced paganism in his refusal to bend down before Hamman the Evil. But we learn from this that any denunciation of pagan worship counts as a kind “Judaic act”.
Now listen to the beginning of this violin concerto by Jean Sibelius:
Doesn’t it sound Jewish, too?
But Sibelius was not Jewish!
Could it be that something in his soul rejects paganism, naturally, instinctively, so it sounds “Yehudi” – Jewish?
Title picture courtesy