The Jew in the West

If you grow up Jewish in the diaspora, you are likely to identify with Jews and develop contempt for the goyim, or you will identify with the goyim and develop contempt for Jews. I understand equally well both of these possibilities. The third possibility — of growing up happy with your Jewish identity and feeling equally happy with the majority culture — is not one I understand. Perhaps that reveals something dark about my psychology. I don’t understand someone identifying strongly as Jewish or Christian or Muslim or black or gay and being equally thrilled with the majority culture around them.

If you grow up on an Orthodox Jew, you will likely continue to grow your Jewish identity and have many negative feelings about the goyim. If you grow up Jewish outside of Orthodoxy, you will likely increasingly identify with the majority culture and develop contempt for Judaism.

Social Identity Theory teaches us that the more you identify with something such as Jewish identity, the less favorable you will be to outsiders.

A friend says: “Two poles, each pole attracts some people. Sometimes both attract the same person.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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