Common Questions and Myths About the Jewish Culture

Common Questions and Myths About the Jewish Culture

From the days of Moses to present, Jews have been stereotyped and referred to in many ways that are still hard to believe nowadays. Yosef Meystel knows that thanks to numerous misunderstandings and the lack of knowledge about the Jewish culture, tens of questions and myths have been placed around Jews making them look like they were from outer space or belonged to a different species. The truth is that Jews are just as humans as Christians or Islamic people are. They simply share different customs, traditions, and teachings –just like any ancient community would do.

In this article, a list of questions and myths about the Jewish culture will be shared. Let’s keep in minds that only because Jews have different customs it doesn’t mean they are weird. In fact, Jews have always done an outstanding job preserving their culture and tradition over the years by teaching it to their descendants and focusing on education as one of the higher values of being Jewish.

Jews Don’t Eat Pork because when untreated, it can cause trichinosis

Jews don’t eat pork because it is part of their dietary laws (Kashrus). It has nothing to do with health concerns or measures. It has nothing to do with the fact that the pork’s meat is clean or has been treated to prevent the contagious of trichinosis. It simply is written in the Leviticus as a commandment of G-d, where Jews are not allowed to eat animals who don’t chew their cud.

As hard as it sounds to believe, this law serves Jews to learn about disciple and self-control. Not every Jew in the world follows this commandment and following it is highly linked to the many denominations of faith among the Jewish culture. In other words, not because you are a Jew you are forced to eat Kosher or stay away from pork.

Can All Jews Speak “Jewish”?

There are many people in the United States who believe that Jews have their one code language and use it to communicate with each other so no one can understand what they are saying. The truth is that Jews living in America who came from Europe are Ashkenazi Jews who happen to share a common tongue called Yiddish. However, most American Jews don’t speak fluent Yiddish and tend to share a few words and sentences mixed with the English language when they use it.

Image courtesy of angus mcdiarmidr at Flickr.com

Other than Yiddish, Hebrew is used as the language in which ceremonies are held. Probably Jews living in Israel have more chances of learning Hebrew than those living in America. Hebrew is a complicated language and most Jews know how to read it but have a difficult time using it.

Related: 6 Common Misconceptions About Judaism

Hanukkah Is The “Jewish Christmas”

It is common to think that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas because the two holidays tend to take place around the same time of the year. However, this is far from reality since Hanukkah does not celebrate the birth of Jesus and does not consider any type of pagan customs. Hanukkah basically celebrates the miracle of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Some Jews have adopted pagan customs like having a Christmas tree and have called it the “Chanukah bush”. Nevertheless, it is not common to find Jews who celebrate Hanukkah as the counterpart of the Christian Christmas. To Jews, the most important holidays are Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur which take place during the Fall.

It is important to clarify that there are some interfaith families who can celebrate a hybrid between the Christian Christmas and Hanukkah regardless the marked differences between the two holidays.

Do Jews Reject the Bible?

Among the Jewish beliefs, it is easy to highlight the fact that they don’t believe Jesus was the son of G-d. This idea has probably led to the idea that Jews don’t believe in the Bible. The truth is that the Bible is formed by two main books The Old and The New Testaments. Jews were the ones in charge of writing The Old testament and it makes part of their sacred book. This testament is called Tanakh in the Torah and besides some differences in translation, it looks pretty much like the one read by Christians.

The New Testament, on the other hand, is the one that talks about Jesus being the Messiah and was written by the prophets after Jesus was born. Jews do not believe in this book and their faith is not based on it. Despite this, both books talk about pretty much the same things: be kind to others, love your God and try to be the best possible version of yourself.

Related: Know one of the most important Jewish writings: The Torah

It is either all or nothing for Jews

As it was already said, Jews are ordinary people who have different beliefs. Thinking that Judaism is an all-or-nothing proposition makes no sense at all. It is a process and a journey where every step counts and takes place collectively.

In order to be (or become) a Jew, you must follow some rules and customs. However, not following all of them won’t exclude you from your culture. In the end, there are different types of Jews some more or less Orthodox. But ultimately, it is not about being “all or nothing”.