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“Jewish peoplehood refers to the cultural, historical, and religious ties that bind Jews together as a people. The concept of Jewish peoplehood has been central to Jewish identity for thousands of years, and it continues to play a critical role in the lives of Jews today. However, the way in which Jews in the United States identify themselves can vary, with some choosing to refer to themselves as American-Jews, while others prefer the term Jewish-American. In this essay, I will argue that Jews in the United States should refer to themselves as Jewish-Americans, rather than American-Jews, as it reflects the centrality of Jewish identity to their lives and the importance of the wider Jewish community.
The Jewish community in the United States is diverse, with Jews coming from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. However, regardless of their individual backgrounds, Jews in the United States share a common history and cultural heritage that forms the basis of their Jewish identity. This shared identity is what connects Jews to each other, and it is what makes them part of a wider Jewish people. By referring to themselves as Jewish-Americans, Jews in the United States are acknowledging the importance of this shared identity and their place within the wider Jewish community.Furthermore, referring to oneself as a Jewish-American also reflects the fact that being Jewish is not just a religion, but it is also a culture and a way of life. While some Jews in the United States may be more religious than others, their Jewish identity is not limited to their religious practices. Instead, being Jewish is a central aspect of their identity that influences how they view the world and how they interact with others. By referring to themselves as Jewish-Americans, Jews in the United States are acknowledging the importance of this broader cultural identity and the ways in which it shapes their lives.
In contrast, referring to oneself as an American-Jew puts the emphasis on being American first, and Jewish second. This implies that one’s Jewish identity is less important than their American identity, which is not necessarily the case. For many Jews in the United States, their Jewish identity is just as important, if not more so, than their American identity. Referring to oneself as a Jewish-American reflects this reality and acknowledges the importance of both identities.
Another reason why Jews in the United States should refer to themselves as Jewish-Americans is that it reinforces the idea of Jewish peoplehood and the importance of the wider Jewish community. While Jews in the United States may have different backgrounds and traditions, they are all part of the same Jewish people. By referring to themselves as Jewish-Americans, Jews in the United States are acknowledging their connection to the wider Jewish community and the importance of supporting and maintaining that community.
Furthermore, by emphasizing their Jewish identity, Jews in the United States are also acknowledging the history of anti-Semitism and discrimination that they have faced throughout history. Anti-Semitism has been a persistent problem for Jews throughout the world, and Jews in the United States have not been immune to this. By referring to themselves as Jewish-Americans, Jews in the United States are asserting their right to be proud of their Jewish identity and to stand up against any form of discrimination or prejudice.
Of course, there are those who argue that referring to oneself as an American-Jew is a way of demonstrating loyalty to the United States and a commitment to being an active member of American society. However, this argument misses the point that being Jewish and being American are not mutually exclusive. One can be both Jewish and American, and in fact, many Jews in the United States are proud to be both. Referring to oneself as a Jewish-American is not a rejection of American identity, but rather a recognition of the fact that being Jewish is an important part of who they are.