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Religious Studies

Judaism: prejudice and discrimination

Jewish attitudes towards prejudice and discrimination

Judaism teaches that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and that everyone should be treated well. The Jews have experienced times in their history of being the 'stranger' or 'outsider' without a homeland. Jewish scripture reflects this experience:

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your G-d.

Leviticus 19:33-34

They also believe that everyone is descended from Adam and Eve and so should be given equal respect:

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

Genesis 3:20

Judaism teaches that everyone should follow their own religion to please G-d. The only rules that apply to all people are those of the Noachide Code, given to Noah by G-d after the flood:

  • Worship only G-d
  • Do not blaspheme
  • Do not murder
  • Do not steal
  • Do not commit adultery
  • Do not be cruel to animals
  • Establish a system of law and order so that everyone can live together in harmony
Discrimination against Jewish people

Writing on a shop window identifed a Jewish-owned shop.

Although Jewish people have been the subjects of discrimination [Discrimination: Treating someone unfairly based on prejudice. ] for many years - particularly in the 20th century Holocaust [Holocaust: The suffering experienced by European Jews at the hands of the Nazis, including the systematic murder of 6 million Jews between 1933 and 1945. See Shoah. ] or Shoah [Shoah: Desolation. The suffering experienced by European Jews at the hands of the Nazis, including the systematic murder of 6 million Jews between 1933 and 1945. ] - Judaism teaches peace:

The world endures on three things - justice, truth and peace

Ethics of the Fathers 1:18

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14

No one can follow these teachings perfectly, and there will be occasions when Jewish people, like those of other faiths, are guilty of prejudice and discrimination.

But there are many examples too of Jewish people challenging injustice when they see the laws of G-d being broken.

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (J-Core) works with the Jewish and wider communities to promote a positive multi-ethnic UK free from all forms of racism. They have a passionate concern for social justice and work closely with a wide variety of people and organisations eg

  • other minority ethnic communities
  • refugee organisations
  • anti-racist organisations
  • interfaith groups
  • schools and colleges
  • community and youth groups
  • agencies such as the Refugee Council
  • the Equalities and Human Rights Commission
  • the Runnymede Trust

Back to Prejudice and discrimination index

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