The "Who is a Jew?" Controversy: Political and Anthropological Perspectives

Publication Date: January 1986

Publisher: Bar-Ilan University Press

Author(s): Charles S. Liebman

Research Area: Culture and religion

Keywords: Zionism; Public policies; Conversion; Religious Denominations

Type: Report


The author explores the question of who is a Jew, including the question of how Jewish religion intersects with Jewish nationality, how conversion to Judaism is defined, and how this question has resulted in controversy vis-a-vis Israeli public policy. The author discusses the history of the Shalit case in 1970, and the subsequent legislative attempts made in the Knesset to change Israel's laws regarding the matter. He further analyzes the Israeli public's understanding of the issue, including the question of why non-religious Israelis are often reluctant to allow non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism to receive recognition from Israel's government.

Copyright Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.