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The Jewish Community

The Jewish Community - Jewish Community 1 Running Heading...

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Jewish Community 1 Running Heading: JEWISH COMMUNITY Inside the Jewish Community William (Jake) Smith University of Kentucky
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Jewish Community 2 What does it mean to be Jewish? There are many stereotypical representations of the Jewish community through television shows, movies or other media groups. Some portrayals are positive while others are not so constructive. Being Jewish has numerous unseen facets of which the majority of the non-Jewish population is most likely unaware. Researching the Jewish community gave me new insight into the ways that the Jewish community is unique from other communities, struggles that these differences bring, and how my perception of the Jewish community has changed as a result of this project. Typical stereotypes came to mind when I thought about the Jewish community due to various things I have seen or heard through media, or imagined as a result of the media. In my opinion the Jewish community has usually been depicted in a negative way. Wondering whether I was the only one who perceived these negative stereotypes, I asked others what are some common labels associated with the Jewish community. The picture that was drawn as a result of these typecast labels was not positive. Some words or phrases others used to describe Jewish people included: money hungry, wealthy penny-pinchers, out-of-date, conservative, unshaven or unkempt, yamaka-hat wearers, racist against others, bible thumpers, hostile middle-easterners, large nosed, and power thirsty. Hearing these reports created a negative image and made me feel sympathy for the Jewish community. They may have some differences from other groups but different does not mean bad, as many assumed. Many of those classifications were exaggerated and incorrect, again as a result of ignorance. I admit, some of these negative perceptions I held myself, but that changed when I began to find more out about their culture and identity. My assumptions were due to my ignorance. Assuming the stereotypes I held in the past, I never thought I would meet a Jewish person. I thought I would never come in contact with someone from that culture. The discovery that I had met and knew several people that are Jewish came about from this assignment. I learned that my mother’s boss, one of my friends, and a few friends of mutual friends, were all members of the Jewish community. Suddenly my perspective changed. These individuals were nothing out of the ordinary. They were regular functioning members of society. They drove normal cars, wore regular clothes, had ordinary, happy families and lives. (More similarities could be added here if necessary) Their differences were much more subtle or discreet than I had imagined or believed. To the visible eye the Jewish community is not as dissimilar from the western world as most assume. Their diversities run deeper than superficial qualities. They differ from other groups by the beliefs they hold, the holidays they celebrate, the rituals or values they follow, and the history their culture shares.
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