Judaism: Myths and Misconceptions

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Stereotyping is rampant throughout the world and people worldwide are stereotyped based on many factors. Stereotypes are generalities about a specific group of people that can be positive; however most stereotypes are distinctly negative. When a group is stereotyped, a definite and distinct set of characteristics attributed to that group of people based on a preconceived appearance of that group. Stereotyping is particularly problematic since it can lead to further discrimination and prejudice. Obviously, the stereotyped group is left with feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and a sense of being ostracized. While race and gender are some of the most common factors of stereotyping, there is another factor that leads to stereotyping, religion. Most religions and their followers are stereotyped in some form or another, but the stereotyping of Judaism prevalent. Often we wonder where these stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination stem from and how they were originally established. Many times stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice are a result a myths and misconceptions; frequently these misconceptions and myths are historically established and then passed down to other generations. There is such a long history of discrimination of Jews, that there is even a label used to describe it, Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is the label for the prejudice and discrimination of Jews, the term dating back to the 19th Century by those that thought that Jews a separate and inferior race (Confronting Anti-Semitism, 2008). Anti-Semitism is the most extreme form of stereotyping and prejudice toward Jews; many stereotypes are far milder, a simple result of myths purported about Jews. Yet, even the mildest stereotypes can be hurtful as was found during an interview with Mary Cohen, a Jewish woman interviewed for the purpose of this report. Perhaps one the most professed myths about Judaism are that Jews are cheap and wealthy. This stereotype is one that many people believe...
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