In Hebrew, Arabic, English, German, or any other language, taboo words are curious things.
Contrary to a Times column, the reason people say “he’s Jewish” rather than “he’s a Jew” has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It’s just a quirk of grammar, and it’s not unique to Jews.
Like animals, words have an ecology. As one is driven out of its traditional habitat, others move into the space that has been vacated.