Is Freethinking Jew or Jewish atheist an oxymoron?

I’m so excited; I finally got my first “interesting” E-mail from a reader!  Now I know my blog is legit. 🙂


I don’t really know who you are but your site is very curious.  I am wondering if you are who you say you are.
I am puzzled how anyone could use the word Jew and skeptic or atheist in the same sentence.
That Bible bull shit was invented by someone and who ever it was should be embarrassed after finding the truth.  Calling ones self a “Jew” is like calling ones self a hillbilly from Jerusalem in my mind. I just can not get my head wrapped around this concept.  It is like now that I am not a fundamentalist Christian anymore why would I want anything to do with let alone call myself a Christian?
Please help me.  I personally can not see how those who believe in a multi-ethnic congomeration insist on mentioning and whispering that “he or she is Jewish” don’t you know.  Why oh Why?  Are you not a Caucasoid white man?  I just don’t understand.  Enlighten me.
Also because a bunch of lemmings choose such and such why do we have to bless it with the Michael Shermer Kosher blessing as truth without any factual evidence or investigation of our own.

This is extremely puzzling to me.  Please help me!!!

Since the man was kind enough to take the time to write, I shall respond:

a) I use “Jew” in Freethinking Jew following Merriam Webster’s definitions 1b, 2, and, especially, 3, below:

Full Definition of JEW

1a :  a member of the tribe of Judah
  b :israelite
2:  a member of a nation existing in Palestine from the sixth century b.c. to the first century a.d.
3:  a person belonging to a continuation through descent or conversion of the ancient Jewish people
4:  one whose religion is Judaism

b) Wouldn’t the world be so much more boring if we all completely abandon our respective cultural heritages and just call ourselves “Caucasoid white men?”
c) After all the *#@! we Jews have been through together as a family, I’m not going to turn my back on my family, even if I no longer believe in the God we all used to worship.

What do you think, thoughtful readers?  Do you think Jewish atheist is an oxymoron?  Is the name “Freethinking Jew” misleading?

6 thoughts on “Is Freethinking Jew or Jewish atheist an oxymoron?

  1. Doobster418

    I get it. I was born to Jewish parents. I went to Hebrew school. I had my Bar Mitzvah when I was 13. But at some point along the way, I realized that god was a fabrication of man, that man wasn’t created in the image of god, but god was created in the image of man. I realized that the bible was not fact or history, but parables and lessons and stories. I discerned that organized religion’s main mission, aside from collecting reams of dough from gullible worshipers, was to control behavior. I recognized that I had evolved to being an atheist.

    Having said that, I can’t…and won’t…deny my heritage, which is Jewish. I don’t practice the religion at all, but I respect the heritage and the traditions (at least the non-religious ones).

    So I would not be hesitant to call myself a Jewish atheist, or an atheist who is (or was?) Jewish.

      1. Doobster418

        Hmm. What aspect of heritage and traditions to I respect? Well, I don’t “disrespect” any of the Jewish heritage or traditions, but I generally steer clear of those that are religious or are awash in mysticism.

        I love potato pancakes (“latkes”), bagel and lox, and matzah brie. And to me, no sandwich is better than lean, thinly sliced corned beef on rye with Russian dressing and cole slaw. Is that heritage or is it just enjoying some traditional Jewish-type foods?

        We do, as a family tradition, light the candles in the menorah on Chanukah, but no prayers. And I enjoy participating with the extended family for the Passover Seder. But again, we don’t recite the Haggadah. No Rush Hashanah or Yom Kippur observances from me.

        I am very sympathetic to the plight of Jews around the world, the persecution and anti-Semitism that many suffer. Being of Jewish heritage is definitely in my blood and my DNA. It’s only the religious practices and religiously-based observances that I reject. Oh, and the existence of god.

        Yes, one could argue that Chanukah and Passover are religiously-based observances, but to me, I equate them to Christmas and Easter, which I believe most Christians observe not so much for the religious aspects as for the presents and parties at Christmas, and for the fellowship (i.e., rites of spring) at Easter. Hey, same reasons I “observe” Chanukah and Passover (except for the matzah only part).

        Aren’t you glad you asked?

  2. SJA

    Well, obviously I agree that someone can identify as a Jewish Atheist. (See the link in the name). And I agree with the reasons stated above. There is a big difference between Christianity and Judaism. The Jews are a people, a nation who developed a religion. The people can exist without the religion. I don’t think a Native american Indian cannot be identified as such if he doesn’t believe in the old Indian religion. Christianity on the other hand has always been a religion and just that. It is not tied to a people or nation.
    The only question on this would be what about the ability to convert to Judaism. I haven’t researched this, but here are some thoughts.
    I think that came about through the religion aspect of Judaism.
    I have the feeling conversion only became really active at the time of the founding of Christianity, perhaps borrowing from it.
    People can join a nation. See the Last of the Mohicans. The Blacks and all other immigrants to America are part of the American Nation.
    All the best!

    1. Freethinking Jew Post author

      Interesting, SJA. Thanks for reading and commenting. I haven’t thought about that, but it’s interesting to ponder. We were wrongly taught in day school that the Torah talks about converts, because our teachers mistranslated the word “ger” as “convert,” when it actually means someone living in the community who’s not Israelite.

      That would be really interesting if the whole concept of conversion in Judaism didn’t start until Christian times. Please let us know if you find out anything more about this!


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