No, I don't think they were (full of...).
There are Jewish scholars who do not accept that the old testament is the literal word of a god(as do some christian scholars). They think that a god was simply taken for granted by all at the time it was written.
It's a fact: there are Jewish atheists and agnostics...and to them being Jewish is more important than being a theist.
But I'm not the expert, I'm just passing it on....I was quite shocked myself.
A quick google yielded this:
.. but secular Jews, atheist Jews and agnostic Jews produce no shock. In fact, they comprise the largest constituency of the Jewish people.
This suggest MOST Jews are atheists !!!
Judaism is today, a two tracked system.
One track does indeed claim that one is Jewish if one "feels" Jewish. No other requirements are necessary.
Oddly enough, this is the "tribal Judaism," except that it doesn't require a person to be a member of the tribe.
This is not a viable (as in self-perpetuating or able to continue from generation to generation) form of Judaism. It is self-evident that those who have no religious connection to Judaism will cease to "feel" or be Jewish after a generation or so.
This is why there are only about 20 million Jews in the world today, even though Judaism is the oldest, continuous organized religion on the planet.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not simply that Jews were wiped out (although there has been a strong tendency to do that, that continues to this day...
), it is that Jews have always assimilated in large numbers into the native population - going back to Roman and Babylonian times...
Self-perpetuating Judaism is religious Judaism. Those who follow the precepts of the Torah and practice observant Judaism are indeed the Jews that have survived and continued since the time of Abraham.
Therefore, in any given generation, one can always make the claim that large numbers of "biological" Jews (although, as I point out above, most Jews who do not believe in the religion of Judaism reject the idea that one must have a Jewish mother in order to be Jewish, thereby making them Jewish because they "feel" Jewish, even as they reject being Jewish
) are not religiously observant - simply because they have repudiated the religion of Judaism.
This does not mean that "A god is generally taken for granted but not compulsory," in Judaism.
It merely means that there are large numbers of those who call themselves Jews, in almost every generation, that have rejected the religion of Judaism.
Just as, by the way, there are Christians who reject the divinity of Jesus and the resurrection.
Now, for the life of me, I don't know why they call themselves Christians, but they do. (see: John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Bishop and theologian in New Jersey)
As Judaism has biological underpinnings in addition to being a belief system, it is easier to be recognized as a Jew, while still repudiating Judaism.
Again, this is also an oxymoron to me, but... G-d works in mysterious ways... :wink: