To be Jewish and an Athiest

Your answer to the question “Can an Atheist be Jewish?” was okay until the end, when, by positing that “action is what matters in Judaism”, you conclude that “belief means nothing.” Nothing could be further from the truth. To “walk with G-d” (I’m using the verse you quoted regarding Abraham) doesn’t mean to perform actions mindlessly; it means to follow the commandments of G-d, one of which is the recognition of and belief in G-d.

Someone who’s born a Jew could still be an atheist. But one who has declared him or herself an atheist, regardless of whether they eat Matza on Passover, is not practicing Judaism.

Chaim Mattis Keller

There is a difference between “practicing Judaism” and “being a Jew.” The question was whether one can be an atheist and still be Jewish; my answer was, yes, and I don’t think you are disagreeing.

The deeper question of whether one can practice Judaism but be an atheist is one for debate by theologians. But as far as I am concerned, the belief is invisible, the practice is visible. I cited the emphasis on action to point out a difference between Judaism (which focuses on what one does) and Christianity (which focuses on what one believes.)

The question of belief in God actually didn’t arise until quite late, I think around 11th Century AD, but I’d have to check on that.

CKDextHavn wrote:

This is only true of those parts of the practice which involve visible action (e.g., Matza on Passover). However, the requirement to believe certain things is definitely part of the practice of Judaism.

What you might be thinking of was Maimonides’s drafting of the thirteen principles of Judaism. While this is probably the first specific codification of the belief system of Judaism, he took it all from earlier sources, mainly the Talmud, the tenth chapter of the portion “Sanhedrin” (which deals with judicial procedure). And the Talmud specifically points to verses from the Torah. So belief in G-d as an intrinsic part of Judaic practice was never really in dispute (until recently).

Chaim Mattis Keller

Well, CM, whilst that is probably the orthodox approach, I think both Conservative and Reform would argue differently.

And, no, I wasn’t thinking of Maimonides, I was thinking of Christian writers who began debating God’s existence in (I think) 11th Century or thereabouts. Until that time, the existence of God was taken for granted.

To answer all of you. I am Jewish and atheist. I am Jewish in the sense that I am genetically related to the Hebrews.

I do not practice Judism, however I do speak Hebrew, celebrate Hannukah, eat Matzo Ball soup (my bubbie makes the best) and I was Bar Mitzvah’d.

I do not believe in God or the afterlife.

I hope this helps you out. -mothh

For one thing, being a Jew, and practicing Judaism has absolutely no difference, whatsoever.
People believe that practicing Judaism is eating Matzah on Passover, going to services at Temple, etc. But these people who say this are not all that right. In Judaism, the “practice” of Judaism is in everything that you do in life. As the Torah says in the Ve’ahavta, “You shall love the lord your G-d with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your being. Set these words which I command you this, day upon your heart.teach them faithfully to your childred; speak of them in your home and on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” Meaning: everything that you do in life, is involed in Judaism. Everything that you believe, and teach to your children (your own morales) is involved in Judaism. “Be mindful of all My Mitzvot…” To good deeds in life, and be knowledgeable of them, “…so shall you consecrate yourself to your G-d.” Doing good deeds IS Judaism.
So you may no believe in G-d, but He believes in you. And even if you do not believe in Him, from what the Torah says, you are still practicing Judaism.

And i am wondering. Are you people replying to these questions Jewish? or are you just throwing stuff out there, like CmKeller, CkDextHavn? OH, mothh, YOU ARE PRACTICING JUDAISM! You may not know it, but what I said before: you practice Judaism in everything that you do.


Judaism is the entire system of Jewish practice. If you do part of it and reject part of it then what you are doing might be considered Jewish practices, but to call each individual practice “Judaism” doesn’t compute.

Judaism is a whole system. If someone wishes to pock and choose what parts of the system to believe in, he’s creating his own system…not following the extant one known as Judaism.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective