What is Judaism? Throughout the centuries, scholars have looked at and debated the question. How has the answer changed over time? In ancient times, Judaism was considered a nationality with religious rites. In Christian and Muslim worlds, Judaism was seen as a religion. The Nazis defined Judaism as a race. 20th century American Jews and non-Jews alike understood Judaism to be a religion and an ethnicity. Just how different is the definition of Judaism in the 21st Century than in centuries past?
Harry Rosenfeld is the rabbi of Congregation Albert and holds a master’s degree in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He was an adjunct professor at SUNY Buffalo, Canisius College, and Alaska Pacific University.