Originally Posted by KTLynn
A correction: The Jewish people are not a race, anymore than Catholic
In the sense that they're descended from one man, Abraham, I think that they can be considered a race. Certainly shared genetic code is a criteria for race. And I'll be interested to hear from Anne, too, because it's my understanding (perhaps faulty) but that most Jews consider themselves descendants of Abraham. Everyone else are Gentiles. Maybe "race" isn't quite the right word for it. In any case, over the several thousand years since Abraham, I'm sure his genetic code has been so diluted so as to hardly consitute a distinct race anyone. So, if Jews consider themselves a distinct race, it's probably symbolic.
Yet, I think you're both right, because also one can be a Jew, one can be included in the Jewish faith (Judaism) without being descended from Abraham. There's a term for converts to Judaism, but it escapes me at the moment. On the flip side, a Jew can certainly be of the Jewish race (ie considered to be descended from Abraham) and not be a Jew (in the sense of not being of the Jewish faith) just the same as a child of Catholic parents can grow up and decide to be (good heavens!!) a Protestant.
Probalby the terminology should be cleaned up and better defined; it seems people use the terms Jew, Judaic, Jewish, etc interchangeably when perhaps it would be less confusing if they weren't. For example, using Jew and Jewish to refer to the descendants of Abraham, and using Judaism and Judaic to refer to the practice of the religion and the faiths and beliefs attendant thereto. Which, come to think of it, would probably still be confusing to non-English speakers because they're both from the same word.
Don't most Jews today (religious and not) still consider the Jewish people (talking race here as well as religion) to be a special people set apart by God? That was the foundation of the faith AND the race; when Abraham was called by God to leave his home and family and move to a strange country where his descendants would become a great nation. And out of his lineage would also come the Messiah. And so in that case, race (ie genetic code passed down) is an important part, as the Messiah must be descended from Abraham, down through all the generations, through David, and so on to Jesus (if he was the Messiah) or still to come (if not).