Is George Zimmerman Jewish?

If one begins typing into Google Is George Zimmerman… the first suggestion that pops up is Jewish. The question of the Jewishness of the man who shot to death Trayvon Martin in Florida seems to be a quite popular inquiry. Indeed, news outlets from The Washington Post to Tablet Magazine have considered the question. This, however, is by far missing the point. In fact, it is as far from the point as is possible.

There are many debates to be had about this constantly evolving case. One could discuss the ethical dilemmas of a “Stand Your Ground” law or the applicability of that law to this situation. Yet, the religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds of Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. Martin should not be the focus of the conversation. It is very tempting to turn the entire situation into a battleground for racial, religious, socio-economic or ethnic tensions. Perhaps, a productive conversation could be had later, once this case has been resolved in our legal system, on stereotyping and assumptions we make about others upon observing their behavior, clothing or surname. This, however, is not the appropriate time for that.

The only truly salient points to consider at this juncture are the facts of the case and the applicability of the law to the facts. Is George Zimmerman Jewish? It’s possible but it is also entirely irrelevant.

  • Dimitrios Foulias

    We must always remember that a Man’s actions is a reflection only on himself, No one else.
    I think if we remember this very simple fact we will all be better off.

    • Joseph Christiansen

      It’s true that we should judge everybody individually. However, one by one, millions of examples show that a black kid, especially with a hood, is far more likely to be abused and killed in US, whether it’s police or neighborhood watcher.
      Secondly, it is far more likely that a person with Zimmerman’s background will be treated this forgivingly by US laws. Can you imagine what would’ve happened with the black kid if he’d killed Zimmerman. Would he be granted this cheap bail? Would he even have money to pay for the bail?

  • Drew Kaplan

    How can anybody ignore the important racial/ethnic undertones of a Hispanic shooting a young, black man in Florida? It’s an important opportunity to discuss these societal issues, rather than waiting until later to consider….

  • Vinne S

    It brings up the concern that there is an intentional withholding of this information. If a person is racially profiling another, then taking into consideration racial differences is key. There is a long history of conflict between Afican Americans and the Jewish community dating back to Jews selling black slaves in Europe, and to the Northern States in the USA. Most people agree that there is a large proportion of Jewish Identified people in the media. Its hard to ever see Jewish crime in the news unless the event is so egregious (like Madoff). One can only chuck this up to intentional media bias. Jews committ crimes like everyone else. If racial profiling occurred (as every news source states) then considering his Jewish background is important and cannot be overlooked.

  • A friend

    I must partially disagree with you Rabbi. I agree that this is not a case about race, religion or ethnicity. As a matter of fact I strongly agree with you on that point. I believe that a political group, has hijacked this case and tried to turn it into a battering ram to promote a cynical agenda of racial discord. But I also think that the conversation around the case should not be limited to the case itself. I think it is important to discuss every aspect surrounding the case including any racial, religious or other aspects in order to shine a light on the implications and gain a valuable understanding that can help us better our society. The mobs banging on pots and pans, the politicians grand standing, and the media shilling aside, I am not aware of any actual evidence made public at this time that this is a racial case. But clearly, the reaction to this event indicates that we live in s society that is all to quick to attach that kind of handle to it. And I think it is important for us to explore that phenomena, understand it, and hopefully use that knowledge to prevent such premature accusations — or worse — in the future.

  • Steve G.

    I have to challenge Vinne’s response. Jews are deeply committed to living up to God’s expectations as dictated by the Torah. They have collectively shown great moral courage and instilled it in their children as well. A look at the record shows very few instances of Jews committing violent crime, and the few crimes committed by Jews have been pretty much limited to “white collar” crimes. As for the African Americans, it was the Jewish community that stood beside them in the civil rights struggle in the 60′s and 70′s, which unfortunately, the African American community has failed too return in kind.

  • http://Facebook Mimi

    Now, he is hispanic? but when arrested he was white. Ummm….Think about.

  • priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    I don’t know enough about Jewish life- but to me “Zimmerman” is German (not that that is really the point of your post….)