What are strengths and weaknesses of Jewish people?

I find that the more Orthodox Jew, the more comfortable he is with this kind of discussion. The Orthodox Jew knows who he is and he usually has no problem noticing that different peoples have different gifts.

The assimilated Jew, on the other hand, is often hyper-sensitive about this discussion and will likely reject any stereotype of Jews, be the stereotype positive or negative.

From a discussion on Quora:

Joshua Mason-Barkin, MA, MA Jewish Education & Nonprofit Management, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (2007):

I think the question is, at its core, problematic. (I don’t think it’s intentionally anti-Semitic. But it’s leaning in that general direction.)

Some Jews are smart. Some Jews are stupid. Some Jews are wealthy. Some are poor. Some are good athletes. Some are not. Some are funny. Some are not. To suggest that Jews, as a group, share certain common traits reflects an ignorance about Jews and Judaism — and maybe also about ethnicity, religion, and people.

Imagine asking: “What are strengths and weaknesses of black people?”

The problem is that the very fact that you’re asking the question suggests that you’re comfortable with (potentially racist) generalizations based on stereotypes, such as, “Blacks are good at basketball.”

Furthermore, such generalizations are logically falacious. (No, not fellatio — get your mind out of the gutter.)

When taken as a percentage of the total number of people currently listed on NBA rosters, it is probably accurate to say that there are many blacks who are very good at basketball. But based on that information, I actually know nothing about the chances of finding a good basketball player if I were to walk up to a random 25 year old African American on the street. (And statiscally speaking, the chances of that person being any better at basketball than a randomly chosen white person are actually pretty slim.)

Many Jews work in financial industries. This does not mean that Jews are good with money, that Jews are good at counting, that Jews are excellent bankers, or that Jews know some secret about the stock market. (I can introduce you to hundreds of Jews — if not many thousands — who are not good with money.)

Jews are strong and weak at the same things as white people, Arabs, left-handed people, Pacific Islanders, and Roman Catholics. In other words: like any group of people, individual Jews vary greatly from each other.

* Joel V Benjamin, I’m a secular Jew who admires Israel for its high ethical standards and technological achievements.

Their main strength is their strongly held ethical values which include a respect for:
– civil liberties for all people
– learning
– law
– ideas
– truth
– history
– tradition
– generosity

They have a strong determination to:
– persist in times of trouble
– help others when they are in need.

Some individual Jews or Jewish groups have the same weaknesses as the members of any other large selection of humanity.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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