Are Amish People Jewish?
Their isolated lifestyle means that most people consider the Amish quite mysterious, and people have many questions about them. A common question persists: Are Amish people Jewish?
The answer is no. They aren’t Jewish, but we’ll look at the similarities and differences between the two groups and try to understand where this confusion comes from.
What this article covers:
Are the Amish Jewish or Christian?
Simply put, Amish people are Christians. They certainly can’t be considered Jewish. While technically Christianity did originate from Judaism, their modern-day practices are vastly different. Even their belief systems are different! So there’s a connection, but not one that results in overwhelming similarities between the two groups.
The Amish are a denomination of Christianity belonging to the Anabaptist tradition. The Anabaptists emerged during the Protestant Reformation in opposition to both Protestantism and Catholicism.
The key differences in their beliefs stemmed from wanting to return to the fundamentals of Christianity, following the Bible closely, and focusing more on practice than theology. This differed from the prevailing Christian ideology of the time.
The Anabaptists got their name from another of their beliefs, that of adult baptism. They believe that people should be baptized as consenting adults rather than as infants. While it isn’t all that common, this is a way that you could convert to being Amish.
However, the Amish don’t evangelize, and they remain very insular communities. It’s quite difficult to become Amish. One example of this is becoming Amish if you have tattoos.
The Amish aren’t allowed to get tattoos, and some communities won’t allow you to convert if you have them. Because most Amish people are born into Amish families rather than converting, black Amish people are rare, but they do exist as a result of interracial marriage over the years.
The two main Anabaptist groups that we see today are the Amish and the slightly less strict Mennonites. These two groups resemble one another closely and have little in common with Judaism.
What's the Difference Between Jews and Amish?
Let’s unpack why these two groups are so different, even though they are sometimes confused.
Orthodox and Hasidic Jews vs. Amish People
The big confusion isn’t normally between mainstream Jewish people and the Amish. Rather, the comparison is between Orthodox Jews and Amish people.
This is because Orthodox Jews also have traditional values and dress in a plain way. However, Orthodox Jews are a large group with many subsets. Therefore, we’ll be focusing on one of the more traditional groups, the Hasidic Jews.
This is because Orthodox Judaism is interpreted in a number of ways, and many Orthodox Jews live relatively regular lives, unlike the Amish. The Amish are more extreme in their practices and are separated from modern society.
Hasidic Jews are a subset of Orthodox Jews, like the Amish are a subset of Anabaptist Christians. They focus more on the spiritual than the intellectual aspects of their religion than mainstream Orthodox Jews, who focus on intellectual pursuits.
Core of Their Belief
The most essential difference between Jewish people and the Amish (and all Christians) is their belief in Jesus Christ.
For Christians (including the Amish), Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God. Jewish people don’t have a standard opinion about what Jesus was, but they firmly believe he wasn’t the Messiah.
This key difference means that, no matter their similarities, Amish and Jewish people have very different religious beliefs.
One truly unfortunate trait that Amish and Jewish people share is that they‘ve both faced persecution throughout history for their religious beliefs.
When it comes to Amish communities in the U.S., the reason that there are no Amish people in Europe is that they faced persecution from both Protestant and Catholic groups, forcing them to flee to America.
If you want to know where Amish people live, they’re mostly concentrated in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. However, they’re starting to spread out, with Amish communities in Canada and South America.
However, because they’ve traditionally lived in one place, people wonder if the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish are the same. While many of the Amish are Pennsylvania Dutch, not all Pennsylvania Dutch people are Amish. Other Pennsylvania Dutch people are Lutheran or German Reformed.
Approach to Modern Society
The defining feature of the Amish is their rejection of and isolation from modern society. They believe that it’s a corrupting influence and lures people further away from God and his word.
Because of this, they live in isolated communities and don’t use modern conveniences like electricity and cars. They also uphold tradition in their craftsmanship, making exquisite wicker hampers, Easter baskets, and even wooden bread boxes.
On the other hand, Orthodox Jews focus on balancing their traditional values with a normal existence in modern society. They embrace the use of technology and support scientific advancement.
More extreme Hasidic Jews try to avoid the internet and television because they don’t align with their values, but they’re far more integrated than even the most liberal Amish sects.
This is at the core of the confusion because both Hasidic Jews and Amish people dress modestly.
Hasidic Jewish women don’t wear trousers. They wear skirts that reach below their knees. They also cover their hair in public. In fact, some Jewish sects cover their hair with a wig rather than a headscarf.
This is similar to how Amish people dress, with women covering most of their bodies. Both groups value modesty. However, in some Orthodox Jewish communities, designer clothes are very popular, which is a significant difference from Amish fashion.
Amish people often make their own clothes because things like sewing and weaving are an important part of their cultural heritage. You can find wonderful handcrafted storage baskets for shelves made by Amish women, as well as sewing baskets and cute picnic baskets.
Jewish people follow the Torah, and Hasidic Jews pay particular attention to the Kabbalah, a very mystical text.
Amish people defer to the Bible. It’s their holy book, and they try to live in accordance with it. They also have a set of rules called the Ordnung.
We hope we’ve cleared up this all-too-common misconception. While both Amish and Jewish cultures are incredibly fascinating and historically rich, they’re vastly different.
While there are some similarities in the way they dress, they have different spiritual beliefs, cultural practices, and attitudes toward the modern world.
We always recommend trying to understand more about different people and their religions so that you don’t misunderstand or misjudge them. Being informed about people who are different from us is a way to enrich our lives.
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