Judaism is Not a Nationality

Mr. Trump, don’t dare tell me I’m not an American.

When I was 16 in my last year of Hebrew School, the ongoing debate was whether I identified myself as an American Jew or a Jewish American. I can’t recall which way we were to be swayed.

It didn’t matter. It was all semantics to me anyway. I never thought it would enter into a national dialogue or be part of an Executive order signed by a US President.  I was born in New York. In Queens, in fact, not too far from where Donald Trump lived.

In America.

That is my nationality. I also hold seders and light shabbos candles. That makes me a Jew.
They are separate but equal.

Cartoon by Dr Seuss 1940s 1942 Cartoon by Theodore Geisel aka Dr.Seuss. During the war, he became one of the first political cartoonists to publicly suggest the Holocaust and the fate of the Jews under Hitler

Hitler didn’t think so to the shock of German Jews. Now in a disturbing nod to those times, Trump is signing an order defining Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion. Keep in mind that in Hitler’s first written comment in 1919 on the so-called Jewish Question, he likewise defined the Jews as a race and not a religious community.

As the Other.

Vintage anti Jewish editorial cartoon

Vintage anti semitic and anti-immigration cartoon Vintage anti-semitic and anti-immigration cartoon. Grant Hamilton

This only goes to promote the classically, bigotted idea that American Jews are not American.

The thought of that terrifies me. As a Jew. And as an American.


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





  1. Pierre Lagacé

    Will trumpism become one day a nationality Sally? Talk about another diversion tactic.

    As a footnote…
    I can’t even watch anymore how the GOP is defending him. Even Poutine can’t because he can’t control his laughter anymore…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We live in disturbing and terrifyingly familiar times, Sally. Keep raising awareness of this menace.


  3. Beth Feldman

    You are 100% correct, Judaism is a religion! We are Americans practicing religion at whatever level we choose. This a a chilling development!
    Hitler accomplished his genocide by indoctrinating a population with virulent anti-Semitism including marking Jewish people a race, as rats & less than human, to be exterminated to promote an “Aryan” “Master” race.
    How disturbing of trump to make this executive order & endanger the Jewish people!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Colonial_America I was aware of Jewish settlers in America going back to colonial times, but not as far back as 1649…

    Oldest synagogues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_synagogues_in_the_United_States

    Trump’s family has recent roots: “Trump’s ancestry in America goes back three generations. His grandfather came from Germany in 1885, and his mother came from Scotland in 1929”.

    Like most Americans, I have many roots – mostly Scotland, with a smattering from Wales, England, Ireland. I am, proudly – without waving the flag, saying the pledge of allegiance, or getting a bit emotional when I hear the national anthem – an American! Bravo to you, Sally, for identifying yourself that way, too. “Jewish” is no more a nationality that “Presbyterian”, my faith, is. Of course, the president has demonstrated time and time again he is incapable of understanding subtle distinctions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to that Synagogue in Newport. Thank you for providing these links. Jews were here before there was an American “nationality”

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome! I remember seeing a photo of the Newport synagogue years ago, and was amazed to learn how far back there were Jews in what became the US. Your post brought that back to mind, so I did a little Google search to get specific information. That done, I thought it might be of general interest to you and other followers.

        Liked by 1 person

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  7. lindajroth

    I’m beyond sickened over what has happened to this country (USA) over the past 3 years. Yes, one might argue that the antisemitism was rising even before Trump, but, the exceleration throughout his “reign” is beyond frightening.
    Your article is very well written and summarizes the rising antisemitism I feel all around me. I have grandchildren, several of whom are now at an age where they can understand the onslaught of negativity and hatred toward those who choose to participate in the religion known as Judaism. Some have already stated that they will leave this country (Canada, Israel, etc.) once they are able. Where is the pride in being an American which I, and everyone else of my generation (I’m 67) felt? Sure, we railed against the Vietnam War, a very angry and agitated time in our history. But, we (Americans) were united in doing so. What is happening now is beyond divisive and literally destroying the foundation of this once great country. I always felt safe and confident that I was an American whose family followed the Jewish faith and that was just as OK as being a Catholic, or a Protestant, or whatever. I never thought twice about telling someone I was Jewish or walking into a Temple/Synogogue, or wearing a Star of David around my neck. Sadly, very sadly, the feelings of safety, equity, and inclusion for those labeled as “Jew” is gone. I do not believe these feelings will ever return; not just in my lifetime, but for generations to come. This is what keeps me awake at night. This is not the America I know or want! Sadly, I doubt it ever will be again and I miss it dearly!


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