I don’t think any of the Christians going “how can someone lose their ethnicity?” re: Jews converting to Christianity are in good faith, but on the off chance that any of them are:

Jewishness probably maps more closely to *citizenship* than anything else.
Like the Jewish conception of peoplehood predates modern conceptions of race, ethnicity, and religion by a lot, which is why if you try to pin it down to any one of those things, it gets weird.
Membership isn’t defined by religious practice, and religious practice isn’t required, but religious practice can, in some circumstances, get you kicked out (if you choose to follow an incompatible religion).
Like, the reason there’s disagreement among Jews as to whether you become not Jewish (in the peoplehood sense) upon converting to an incompatible religion isn’t because the religion is actually compatible with remaining in the community.
It’s because, as dark as this is, the Torah doesn’t conceptualize Jews continuing to live while practicing idolatry. It’s very clear: they’re removed from the community.

Via execution.

So the question of whether they remained “ethnically” Jewish isn’t really one it deals with.
Now most of us would be PROFOUNDLY opposed to the idea of killing someone for converting to an incompatible religion, so instead we basically opted for disowning/exile. You’re not dead, but you’re not part of the community any more.
There's disagreement among Jews whether Jews who convert to Christianity stop being Jewish or not, but mostly this is because we're trying to navigate contemporary framings about ethnicity--we're accepting those terms and definitions.
Like, I think I can say with certainty that no Jew (who hasn't converted to Christianity) is going to agree that a person of Jewish descent who is practicing Christianity is practicing a form of Judaism.

If you put it in *those* terms, there's not a lot of fuzziness.
And most of us are fine with the idea that a person who is born to Jewish parents and starts practicing Christianity doesn't have to jump through as many hoops as someone with no connection to a Jewish family or community if they want to return to the community.
The disagreement is really in terms of whether they lose their Jewish "ethnicity" by becoming Christian.

But again, in debating it in those terms, we're basically accepting a non-Jewish framework for peoplehood.
But as I said, modern conceptions of race, ethnicity, and religion (or religious identity) don't really map to Jewish peoplehood.

Like, back in ye olden Bible days, you could marry in (at least if you were female). And you could sort of marry OUT, even as a man:
Esau marries a bunch of foreign ladies instead of a girl from the old home town, and his family becomes a whole separate people very rapidly.
Like, midrash assumes that he didn't continue to practice the religion of his parents, but all we KNOW he did for sure was marry women they didn't approve of, whose culture was too different.
So, you can be born to it, but you also can marry in or out, you can be adopted in, you can be removed from the community (via execution or something mysterious called karet) for practicing the wrong religion--those aren't borders that map neatly to anything we have today.
Returning to my original point:

The thing it maps most closely to is citizenship, not race, ethnicity, or religious identity.

Most people get it by being born to it. Some people get naturalized. You don't lose it by passively not participating (e.g. not voting/not practicing).
But you CAN lose it for taking on a conflicting allegiance. That doesn't change that you *had* it. It doesn't make you not your parents' kid. It doesn't change your history or your blood or anything like that.

It does change your *membership.*
And to be clear, I'm talking about Jewish responses to *Jews* who convert to incompatible religions, not people who come into Jewish communities without converting (e.g. through interfaith marriages). The responses to that are obviously through a different lens.
The point is that the reason Christians keep thinking the existence of Jewish atheists or Buddhists, or descent-focused definitions of "ethnicity" are gotchas that prove that Jews have to accept Christians as Jews, is because they're using Christian frameworks of membership.
Part of the reason, I think, that a lot of Jews are willing to say that Christianity and Judaism are incompatible practices but get nervous about saying that someone of Jewish descent practicing Christianity isn't a Jew is hope:
having lost so many people--to genocide, to forced conversion, to coerced assimilation--you want to hope that some of them will come back

and the thing is:

we should get to HAVE that hope without Christians pouncing on it to try to force us not to have any boundaries
A few more notes on the citizenship angle:

You can actually see the Torah sort of working it out. Initially, you've got a relatively small family, and the question of who counts is in terms of who's born to membership in the covenant, and whether they stay with it.
E.g. Jacob and Esau are both born to it, but Esau's children aren't part of it, presumably because Esau departs from it in some sense.
There's also the question of people who marry in (all of the matriarchs). There's a sense that the foreign women Esau marries don't really become members of the proto covenant community, and in fact, they may be why Esau seems to become not part of it.
On the other hand, Rachel and Leah DO seem to become part of it, although whether they consider themselves bound by it is another question.

Rachel, for example, steals her father's household idols and it's unclear what happens to them afterward.
I *think* it's actually a parallel to Jacob and Esau, in a way.

Midrash sees the angel Jacob wrestles with as a divine being associated with Esau--ultimately, he wrests a blessing out of the divine being that's supposed to protect Esau.
Similarly, Rachel steals her father's terafim, his household gods.

In both cases, through trickery, they divest potential opponents of their divine protection, or at least neutralize it. That's why they're well-suited for each other.
So I think that's why that story is there, rather than as an indication that Rachel continues to worship the terafim, but obviously no one can say for certain.
It's also concerned with members of the household that aren't family--e.g. Abraham and his whole household get circumcised. Being a member of the household is enough to get you some sort of membership in the covenant.
So then, in Exodus, we go from being a nuclear family to being a whole *people,* and things get a little more complicated.
But to really drive home the citizenship framing, the Torah becomes very concerned about the rights, status, and obligations of resident aliens: people who live among the community but don't have full membership.
We get whether someone can have "half" status in the tragic story of the unnamed son of Shlomit in Leviticus. His status is usually translated as "half-Israelite"--he's the son of an Egyptian father and a Jewish mother.
He gets into a fight with a "full" Israelite and uses the name of God in a prohibited way, and Moses has to ask God what to do about it.
Ultimately, the answer is that they have to execute him, but before they do that, every member of the community has to lay their hands on him.

At this point, God specifies that the rules are the same for everyone living within the community, regardless of status.
So, you can read this text a lot of ways, and of course people have, but the most popular interpretation is that it's a clarification that there's no such thing as a "half-Israelite."

The community lays their hands on his head: they claim him, even though they're executing him.
And we don't see any more references to "half-Israelites."
In Deuteronomy, we get rules for who can join--Ammonites and Moabites can't join the community, because on the way out of Egypt, they didn't offer hospitality and instead offered hostility.
(Of course, we don't hold to this, because always and forever Ruth.)
On the other hand, Edomites can join, because as children of Jacob's brother, they're still distant kin, and interestingly, *Egyptians* get called out in parallel to Edomites, because we were strangers in their land.
You'd think if anyone's going to be permanently excluded from the opportunity to join the community, it would be members of the people that enslaved and tried to genocide us, but instead, Egyptians are welcome. They may have done that, but they also fed us during a famine.
In both cases, if they become resident aliens, apparently their grandchildren are considered Israelites--after three generations, they're in. Which, again, seems to me to put the Torah's conception of membership as closer to modern conceptions of citizenship than ethnicity.
As a citizen, you have certain obligations to the group, and you have certain rights within it that non-citizens don't have, and it's also possible to be part of the *community* without being a citizen.

That maps pretty well to Jewish communities.
So, *Jewishness* maps best to citizenship, rather than ethnicity, which is why attempts to define it by the modern conception of ethnicity generally fail.

At some point I'll talk about how *Judaism* doesn't map to "religion" because "religion" is a Christian invention.

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More from @Delafina777

25 Nov
I mean, converting to an idolatrous religion so clearly puts you outside the borders of peoplehood that the on-the-books response to it is EXECUTION.

That’s not a response I’m okay with, but it’s notable that the contemporary Jewish response to it is *less* harsh.
Christians are all out here insisting that Jews MUST consider Christians with Jewish ancestry to be Jews (and by extension, their Christianity to be Judaism) because they want to define Judaism solely in terms of blood (which, btw, is literally a Nazi position).
And it’s fascinating that they insist, that in 2021, Jews can’t kick out members of the community that practice idolatry, as if this is some sort of new development, when the Torah literally says we should remove them from the community BY KILLING THEM.
Read 5 tweets
23 Nov
Like I dunno, maybe we should talk about how weird this belief is? And how most cultures’ spiritual practices are centered around living with *each other*, and the world and often ancestors/spirits in *this life* and see consequences as coming from THOSE sources in this life?
Judaism says you leave the corners of fields free for the poor to glean. Why? Because God says so.

What happens if you don’t?

The land doesn’t support you. Your community deteriorates. Other nations abuse you. Your relationship with God deteriorates.
None of that is about what happens after death, except in the sense that you’re also screwing over your descendants.
Read 4 tweets
23 Nov
I also want to say something that’s not going to be popular, but since when have I given a shit about that?
Sara Marie and I did not get along when we worked at Paizo, which was fine because we had very little interaction.

I didn’t like that she accused Crystal and me of exaggerating when we talked about experiencing harassment at Paizo Con, and I’m sure she didn’t like…
…cleaning up the forums in my wake.

I do however respect the hell out of the relationship she built with her team, and how hard she tried to protect them.
Read 6 tweets
23 Nov
And now seems like a good time to repost this and remind everyone that abusive management and abusive fan bases generally work in tandem, whether or not it's intentional:

Like, there's a LOT of good stuff in there, and you should read the whole thing, but I want to pull out a few quotes:
"Angry gamers can easily be understood as a pool of reactionary scabs that serve as a resource for videogame companies that prefer it when its workforce is afraid, quiet, and deprived of the leverage it needs."
Read 21 tweets
23 Nov
don't marry cis men

they can't handle having successful wives
True story: friend was married to a guy who, on the surface, seemed like a Wife Guy.

I mean, if you hung out with them for long, there were tells, like how she was constantly getting up to get him another glass of water or whatever, but he never returned the favor, but...
...if you didn't hang around with them at their home, if you were relatively casual friends, you would have been like "this guy really loves his wife and is proud of her."
Read 16 tweets
18 Nov
It's a cold, dark wintry night in Seattle with a big old full moon, so gather round while I livetweet my readthrough of one of my childhood favorite spookybooks, John Bellairs' Curse of the Blue Figurine
I first discovered this book when I was in elementary school, tucked away in a back corner of the school library. It wasn't like anything I'd read before. It was atmospheric and spooky and smart.

It's the first book in a loose series about my favorite of Bellairs' protagonists.
So it opens up with Johnny Dixon, our hero, sitting and listening to a spooky radio show in 1951.
Read 57 tweets

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