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I know Judaism is not "Christian", but I am under the impression that there are some differences amongst Jewish traditions.

At the extreme, I have even heard of "Messianic Jews" who believe Jesus was the Messiah. What I am wondering here is whether that is more of a Christian concept, or if Jews would also recognize "Messianic Jews" and/or Christians as "Jews"? (Are these two considered "sects" of Judaism by Jews, or is this just a Christian idea?)

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    Once a Jew, always a Jew. There's nothing that can change that. Jews who practice Christianity (which is what Messianic Jews are (and by "Messianic Jews," I mean people who are actually Jewish by birth but practice the religion of Christianity) are simply considered to be Jewish apostates by mainstream Judaism. (And, for the record, I am not a Messianic Jew by profession. I am Jewish by birth but refer to myself as a Christian in the context of religious discussions where my beliefs require acknowledgement to others). – user2088 Apr 11 '13 at 20:37
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    Judaism does not consider "Messianic Judaism" or Christianity to be sects of Judaism. – Daniel Apr 11 '13 at 21:10
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    You seem to be conflating whether such people are considered to be practicing Judaism and whether they're considered Jews. The comments above, taken together, allude to this, and presumably an answer will explain more fully, but I thought I'd disillusion you even before an answer came in: those are two different questions. – msh210 Apr 11 '13 at 21:35
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    Hi and welcome to Mi Yodeya. I hope an answer will cover this more fully, but Jewish status is not as strongly coupled with beliefs as it is in Christianity. If you're born Jewish, you're a Jew under halacha no matter what you believe. And if you're born a gentile, you're a gentile no matter what you do or don't believe, unless you formally convert. – Monica Cellio Apr 11 '13 at 21:44
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In an nutshell and as was stated, a person born a Jew is a Jew for life and a person not born a Jew isn't a Jew until he goes through a formal conversion process. While one who adheres to certain tenets of Christianity is removed from the Jewish community (ie his "Jewish" status is compromised) he is still bound by Jewish law (assuming his adherence is a choice and not the result of an upbringing which deprived him of knowledge of his Jewish lineage).

As of (IIRC) the time of Paul who preached to the Gentiles, the notion of Christianity which might have initially been thought of as an offshoot or even sect of Judaism became one of a competing theology which replaced and rejected Judaism. Thus, historic Christians would not be considered Jews even if they chose to adopt some (most or all even) of Jewish beliefs. "Messianics" who want to have the title Jew are coopting the term and are not considered Jews unless they are so by birth.

  • "Once a Jew, always a Jew" and "Born a Jew, always a Jew" does not seem to take into account God's assertion that if Israelites did not obey Him in certain instructions they would be cut off from their people. – user2411 May 12 '16 at 12:11
  • It depends what you mean by "cut off from his people." Someone, according to Judaism, who has been excised or communicated is still Jewish and bound by Jewish law. – rosends May 12 '16 at 13:57
  • That would have been a question I would ask you. What does it mean to be cut off from your people. What you say makes sense. God consistently wanted Israel to return and obey. But I have often wondered what cut off means. Obviously it is a euphemism either of death or of expulsion from the land. One, a person can return from, the other, well... – user2411 May 12 '16 at 14:56
  • There are two words that are commonly used for that concept, "karet" and "cherem". The former is an excision and the second a communal ban (sometimes called "excommunication"). Here is a resource for karet en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareth and here, for the second en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herem_(censure) – rosends May 12 '16 at 15:38
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Are these two considered "sects" of Judaism by Jews, or is this just a Christian idea?

No. These are not Judaism, and someone practicing them is not practicing Judaism, regardless of whether they are a Jew or not. (Being a Jew is not dependant on practicing Judaism, as stated in Dan's answer.)

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