View Full Version : Amish Jews? Are There any?

10-05-2002, 01:06 PM
The Amish (aka the plain people) are a group of people who follow a religious creed that eschews modernisms. They are generally found in the rural areas of pennsylvania, and generally, they don't offend anyone. My question, is it possible that there are JEWISH-Amish people as well? Were there jews in the germany/switzerland of Jacob Amman's time (ca 1600), who might have taken up a similar lifestyle? I find much in common between the "plain people" and highly orthodox jews-so, are there "Amish" jews?

10-05-2002, 01:23 PM
Amish are an Xian sect(*), ergo one can exclude Amish Jews ipso facto. Converts? Maybe, doubt it though.

(*: if my raki clouded brain is functioning, I think they are an Anabaptist offshoot, but I welcome correction.)

10-05-2002, 01:32 PM
It's possible, given that you can convert to be Amish, and you can be Jewish in descent.
I don't know of anyone thus described. Actually, I don't know any AMish.

Why not call genetic Jews Hebrews?

10-05-2002, 01:44 PM
Originally posted by cdhostage
Why not call genetic Jews Hebrews? What is a genetic Jew?

10-05-2002, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by PosterChild
What is a genetic Jew? The kind that's half-off at Wal-Mart.

You know... store brand.


(He said genetic and not generic? Nevermind.)

Enola Straight
10-05-2002, 02:28 PM
The Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews certainly seem analogous to the Amish to me.

Similar modes of dress, lifestyle, and devotion to scripture.

Wendell Wagner
10-05-2002, 03:00 PM
The definition of being Amish is not "eschewing modernism." The definition is believing in a certain religious creed. This creed is clearly Christian, but it also asserts that certain modern technology is unacceptable. There are actually differences in the various Amish settlements about which parts of modern technology is to be rejected, so it's not useful to try to distinguish the Amish according to their level of technology. Incidentally, if you took the Amish creed and removed the restrictions on technology, you would have the Mennonite Church.

There have been lots of rural communes throughout American history. (There was as many of them in the 1840's as in the 1960's, for instance.) It's possible that some of these communes rejected modern technology just as much as the Amish did. If you took the Amish creed and removed all the religious statements in it, you'd get something like a hippie commune without stereos.

10-05-2002, 04:22 PM
The Amish rejection of technology is not simply a luddite rejection of either "new" things or of technology as such.

The two underlying principles are that they need to hold themselves separate from "the world" and that they will not "exalt"* themselves. This means that they avoid tying in to the electric grid, which would mean relying on society rather than God. (They also have an exemption from participation in the Social Security System, even when they accept hourly employment, because they have demonstrated that they will "take care of their own" and will not rely on the larger society to care for them in their old age.)

The hodge podge of apparently conflicting decisions is the result of their rather loose organization, in which one community may decide that it is OK to buy a tractor in common and use the PTO to drive a thresher or corn dryer for the whole community (but not to allow any individual farmer to plow or reap with it) and another community will decide that purchasing the fuel to power such a tractor will entangle them too much with "the world" and they will refuse even a communal concession.

They are also a fairly practical people and as the world intrudes further into their communities, they do make some adjustments: with the inability to keep extending their farm holdings to accomodate their large families, they have begun accepting jobs as carpenters and, in some cases, in local factories. While working on those jobs, they will use power equipment, simply to stay competitive in the market, but will use hand tools back home.

It is not difficult to perceive inconsistencies (from our perspectives) in their acceptance or rejection of "modern" things, but one does need to follow their line of reasoning to see their perspective--and a simple rejection of technology is not part of their world view.

*I have used the word "exalt," but they use a different phrase in German, that I do not quite remember. Things are shunned when they are seen as "hoch something or other", but I do not remember the exact phrase.

Horatio Hellpop
10-05-2002, 10:23 PM
Not sure about the Amish, but Mennonites (a.k.a. "Amish LITE") actively seek converts (To quote a Mennonite I went to college with: "C'mon, Bob, just join up for two weeks. I'll owe you one!"). I doubt they'd exclude Jews.

10-05-2002, 10:36 PM
Amish are a Mennonite sects, of which there are several. All shun the modern world to some degree, but none so much as the Amish. Some other Mennonite groups can own cars or other luxuries. But they are Christian by definition; a Jew can churn butter and raise barns with the best of them, but still won't be Amish.

Captain Amazing
10-05-2002, 11:08 PM
And putting aside theological differences, just so that you know, Hasidim don't reject modern technology at all. There's actually, for example, a large Hasidic presence in cyberspace.

Wendell Wagner
10-06-2002, 12:26 AM
I have Mennonite relatives, and I haven't noticed that they reject modern technology to any significant respect. The only thing that Mennonites are famous for that's noticeably different from other Protestants is that they are always pacifist. (Well, so are Quakers, but there are significant theological differences.)

10-06-2002, 05:42 AM
The Amish aren't exactly a Mennonite group. Their beliefs are very similar, but not identical. One of the easiest differences for us outsiders to see is that the Amish do not have church buildings or professional clergy. They take turns meeting for worship services in purpose-built rooms in one another's homes, and the meetings are led by a man who has a completely different job the other six days of the week. Mennonites have churches and ministers.

Some Mennonites live in ways very similar to the Amish. Others are difficult to tell at a glance from other conservative Protestants - they dress relatively modestly and religion is an important part of their lives, but they drive cars, have televisions, go to high school and perhaps college, etc.

10-06-2002, 11:10 AM
The Hasidim don't avoid technology, per se. They all have telephones, those that can afford it have cars, all use modern medicine, etc.

What they isolate themselves from is modern culture. Thus many of them do not own televisions, radios, cars, secular books, etc.

Zev Steinhardt

Paul in Qatar
10-06-2002, 01:07 PM
Of course this is off-topic but I wanted to mention I have met Maish folk on the Gran Chaco in Paraguay, in Belize and some in Panama (but I think they were passing through.)

Spainsh with a German accent (at least in Paraguay).

10-06-2002, 09:43 PM
Originally posted by ralph124c
The Amish (aka the plain people) are a group of people who follow a religious creed that eschews modernisms. They are generally found in the rural areas of pennsylvania, and generally, they don't offend anyone. I don't know what you mean by "generally," but they are found throughout the nation. In fact, there is a whole town in Illinois which is basically entirely Amish. Arcola, IIRC.

11-01-2002, 07:08 AM
Well, this article came up in the NYTimes this morning - it's still not "Amish" Judaism, but it may be close to what the OP was thinking.

For Orthodox Jews, an experiment in farming and faith (http://nytimes.com/2002/11/01/national/01COMM.html) (registration required)

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