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Amish, English. Jewish, Goyish

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Publication Date: July 2009

Publisher(s): National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (U.S.)

Author(s): Robert Rabinowitz

Series: CLAL on Culture Archive

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Community Relations; Cultural Sensitivity; Race; Religion

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


The author discusses how the Amish have set up boundaries between themselves and others and compares these methods to those of the Jews. For example, the Amish call those who are unlike them English, and in a similar manner, Jews refer to anyone who is not Jewish as Gentiles. He argues that too many differences between people exist to clump them all into one "other" category. He acknowledges how even Jews have a boundary between Jews who are from New York, and Jews from anywhere else - the latter now being referred to as "Goyish." The author ultimately asserts that while boundaries inevitably exist, they should not be static and be able to shift with the times.