Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/11-09-01.html
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< Q11.8.4 TOC Q11.9.2 >

Question 11.9.1:
Symbols: Why are Jews called Jews?

Answer:

The word Jew is English and is only used by Jews who speak English. It is derived from the Hebrew word, yehudi meaning Judean, which comes from the name of the tribe of Yehudah (Judah). Before the Babylonian exile, the Northern Kingdom of Israel essentially disappeared and only the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained. As a result, the name of the Southern Kingdom began to be used to refer to all the descendants of Jacob (Israelites).

Note: Arabs are also descended from Abraham, but they certainly do not call themselves Jews. Why? Because they were not part of the tribes of Israel. Rather, they claim lineage through Abraham's son Ishmael.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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