Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

A Jewish man or a Jew?

WW II Star of David with the Dutch word for Jew with Latin letters in the style of Hebrew letters.
WW II Star of David with the Dutch word for Jew with Latin letters in the style of Hebrew letters.

It should not annoy me but it does. I know that many Jews outside of Israel call themselves Jewish. They all seem to assume that Jew is somehow a dirty word.

The recent news report that spoke of a Jewish man attacked in Berlin – why did it not write: a Jew?

Are Christians and homos not persecuted in the Middle East (except in Israel) or are they Christian and homo people? No one says the latter. Do Muslims keep Ramadan or Muslim people? Why should Jews only be adjectively identified?

There are the British and the French, the Egyptians and the Israelis, Native Americans and Jewish people? When I hear talk about Jewish people I always ask myself: do they mean this “people” in contrast with Jewish dogs, Jewish birds?

The most ridiculous of course are Jewish rabbis and Jewish synagogues.

Would you think that others regard you less a Jew when you call yourself Jewish? Or see you more as a human when you adjectivate yourself?

There is nothing uncouth about the word Jew. Get some pride and call yourself what everyone already thought you are, a Jew.

And correct others who call Jews Jewish.


Related: In proper Dutch spelling, the word for Jews (joden) for years, was not to be capitalized, just like the word for Roma (Gypsies) (zigeuners), supposedly because their names were not rooted in geographical names. It could say: Romeinen, Franken, Friezen, Grieken en joden, and no one blinked. It took many years before Dutch linguists admitted that this smells of racism and got a new system approved.

Now all Peoples’ names in proper Dutch are written with a capital.

But in the language of the Netherlands, religious adjective are not capitalized: de christelijke, protestante, katholieke, islamitische en joodse religie (you got that – that was not so hard).

So now, when identifying the People, the adjective is spelled Joods, but when referring to the oldest monotheistic religion, Jewish as a religious and not a national adjective, it must be written joods. So we must spell “joodse les” (a lesson in Judaism) but “Joodse indentiteit.”

But then, should it be a Joodse sjabbat or a joodse sjabbat? Is the Day of Rest religious or does it belong to the People of Israel?

Also, now we can see how christenen en Joden work together to stop anti-Semitism. Too often we hear anti-Joodse woorden van moslims. Now, suddenly, Jews are capitalized when religious groups are not because Jews are often a Nation and other religious groups aren’t.

Complicated as this may be, Dutch Jews often persist in writing about Jews as joden, not Joden. Not only is this now against the prescribing spelling rules, it also is shameful that Jews would (still) be the only People that doesn’t capitalize itself. Jewish Pride outside of Israel is scary.


However, I don’t blame the victim. I count on our Gentile allies to make things so safe for Jews everywhere so that we can call ourselves Jews and in Dutch can refer to ourselves as Joden, always.

And when Pride is too hard, at least we should show that we are fond of ourselves.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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