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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jewish, Ethnic and Racial Identity in America - The Future of Reform Judaism is Chinese



As the evolution or rather devolution of Jewish identity in America continues we are approaching a crossroads leading to two paths.

The first path is the original understanding of the Jewish people as a people and a nation following a covenant with G-d. Orthodox Jews remain closest to this, though they often tend to be weak on the nation part.

The second path is that of a Post-Jewish ethnic identity, which is to American Jewish identity what Post-Zionism is to Israeli identity. It disposes of any real Jewish identity in favor of a universalized Jewish identity. It is what we see being adopted among secular and liberal streams of American Jews.

To understand this second path it is necessary to look at the nature of ethnicity and race in America. For a long time race in America was defined as a contrast between black and white. These were not real categories but artificial ones created by the dominant culture of the time.

A wide variety of peoples usually but not always originating from Africa were classed under one category for the convenience of the Arab and European slavers who trafficked in them. Many of these peoples hated each other and had very little in common. By the 20th century many of them were mixed with White and Indian and other groups. Some in these categories were actually whiter than those officially considered White. Black or rather Negro was a convenient category for the dominant culture to class everyone they considered other.

Much the same thing has happened with the various Latino/Hispanic categories which piles in people who are Indians, Europeans, Africans and often a mix of the three into one box. Modern day Indians are quite often mixed up with Africans and Europeans creating altogether artificial tribes for financial benefits.

These categories were not originally based on the real identities of these peoples, but out of ignorance and a convenient way to file them all into one category. As the 20th century hit its latter half, they began reclaiming their identities, trying to turn negative identities into positive identities. These identities as Black, Indian or Hispanic, were just as much artificial constructs as before. These were not real peoples but chaotic conglomerations classed together out of ignorance.

The devolution of liberal streams of Judaism began with embracing secularism, deemphasizing a unique identity and destiny and seeking to universalize Judaism and the Jewish experience. To their shock of course they discovered that they couldn't take that course and still avoid intermarriage. Facing the choice between changing course to preserve their part of the Jewish people and liberalizing further, they liberalized further. Reform Judaism has taken the tack that intermarriage is perfectly normal and should be embraced in the hopes of getting the non-Jewish partner and their children to come to Temple too. Federation surveys only ask whether the person has some form of Jewish identity or connection to their roots.

Reform Judaism shows enough growth to prove this approach bears some fruit but all it really does is usher in the Post-Jewish era in which being Jewish is no more real an identity than Black and no more authentic than the Indian Tribes of the Great Casino. Jewish stops being a national covenant and becomes a matter of anyone who has some Jewish roots or is married to someone Jewish and sorta kinda considers that they might want to come to Temple some time. Jewish identity becomes optional, something you choose if you feel like it and discard if you don't.

It's a small step from there to simply tossing out any ethnic and national identity altogether and universalizing liberal Judaism into another liberal Christian denomination, something that was pretty much the goal of Reform Judaism all along. You can only toss out so many things in the name of reform, before you have nothing left except vague slogans and a borrowed identity.

And that doesn't work anyway. Unlike being Black which is designated by the perception of skin color, Jewish appearance isn't all that definitive. Unlike the Indians or any other minority for that matter, there's no real financial benefit to being Jewish. When you discard religion, the only appeal for remaining Jewish is to try and make Jewish identity seem hip or cool. And that can work for a bit but not for very long because being Jewish for real is more a painful reality than anything else. And without religion to define the context for all the hatred of Jews and discrimination and violence directed at Jews, the entire thing becomes the sort of meaningless horror that drives people to self-hatred or philosophy; two common occupations among Jews.

When liberal Judaism turns Judaism into another option in a religious landscape in which they can expect the majority of their congregations to be intermarried, they cease to have any meaningful attachment to the Jewish people. To see the future of Reform Judaism, simply think Chinese.

Asian-Americans have the second highest rate of intermarriage compared to Jews. It's at over 70 percent for Japanese-Americans. 40 percent for first generation Chinese. 60 percent for second generation Chinese. Combine a high intermarriage rate for both Jews and Asians with more cultural similarities between Jews and Asians, than between most other groups, a high presence in colleges and universities and the large result of Jewish and Asian intermarriages is no surprise. Most people I suspect have seen no shortage of such couples. Even in the Orthodox world, some of the more high profile converts via marriage have been Asian.

Take a high Asian birth rate and immigration rate to America, combine it with a high intermarriage rate with a shrinking Jewish population and you wind up with a Jewish population in America that looks increasingly Asian. Then pile on the adoptions of Asian babies by liberal Jewish couples that don't want the hassle of actually having their own children. Then walk into a Reform Temple 50 years from now and don't be surprised if it looks rather Chinese.

Converts, legitimate converts who seek to become Jewish in order to be close to G-d and the Jewish people, are a wonderful thing. However conversion as a means of legitimizing intermarriage is worthless. By throwing up their hands and responding to intermarriage by treating being Jewish as an option, liberal streams of Judaism have made their own extinction inevitable one way or another. More likely both. The first way is demographic death through intermarriage and assimilation away from Judaism. The second way is through intermarriage and assimilation into Judaism until is loses all attachment to a specific people and becomes to Judaism and the Jewish people, roughly what Christianity did. An alien identity and faith distantly attached to some Jewish ideas.

Thus the future of Reform Judaism is Chinese.

36 comments:

Keliata said...

I think in many reform temples conversions are done strictly for the convenience of a Jewish spouse who wants to get married in a temple and by a rabbi but can't unless the non-Jewish spouse agrees to convert.

Conversion is the means to an end. That being, the use a temple as a wedding location. Nothing more. The temple is otherwise used only for major life events but that's the extent of it.

In fact, it's so common that someone converting for religious reasons is regarded as a novelty or with suspicion. People ask, why, if you're not converting for marriage would you even want to convert? Conversion for marriage has become the norm and any other reasons are regarded with suspicion.

A liberal Jew born of a Jewish mother (and convert to reform judaism) can self-identify as Jewish on polls but these polls need to be more specific. The need more specificity: ask if the person was born to a Jewish mother, raised Jewish, had a valid conversion, and is Torah observant.

Many Messianic Jews, who may have been born of Jewish mothers, would self-identify as Jews on polls though religiously they aren't because of their belief in J.

Others say "once a Jew, always a Jew", even one in a state of apostasy via their belief in J. Adn yet, anusim are facing opposition because while they may have Jewish ancestry, centuries have passed from when their ancestors last practiced conventional Judaism.

I saw a messianic television program a couple Sundays ago. The founder of a Jerusalem justice organization or something like that lamented that messianic Jews who love Israel aren't permitted to become Israeli citizens because they believe in J. I'm not an expert on the law of return but this is what I recall the man saying:

They could only return provided their mothers were Torah observant or could demostrate involvement in an authentic Jewish synagogue or lifestyle and NOT believers in J.

DNA going back centuries isn't enough in the case of messianic Jews under the law of return. Israel wants proof that at least the last two generations have some ties to authentic Judaism--a Ketubah, testimony of a rabbi. Something. Anything.

Very confusing.

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Yes , Keli.
Yet Israel allows thousands of Russians who have no proof at all of any jewish background to come freely to Israel alongside Hindus and Africans who claim some dim distant association with a Jew somewhere.
But real Jews are excluded because they don't have the same beliefs.
Odd since an atheist Jew is accepted readily! Even a Buddhist Jew!
Its filth.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

A liberal Jew born of a Jewish mother (and convert to reform judaism) can self-identify as Jewish on polls but these polls need to be more specific. The need more specificity: ask if the person was born to a Jewish mother, raised Jewish, had a valid conversion, and is Torah observant.

Torah observant by whose standards? Orthodox halakha? That disqualifies everyone in the Reform movement as a matter of course. The same would be largely true for "raised Jewish"- whose standards are we using? Do you count a Reform family's observance of Shabbat as observing Shabbat, for instance? Where is the cut-off point?

Sultan Knish said...

Messianic Christians who pretend to be Jews self-identify as Jews only for the purposes of infiltration and deception. They're most certainly not real Jews. A handful of them may have a Jewish parent but then again so did some Nazis and Torquemada was of Jewish descent. Bringing our worst enemies into our own country would be the worst kind of filth imaginable.

Bringing a Nazi who murdered Jews to Israel is more legitimate than a Messianic. The Nazi at least murdered Jews in the past, the messianic is working to exterminate Jews today in the here and now.

There is a difference between a lapsed Jew and one actively working to exterminate the Jewish people. That difference cannot and must never be played down.

Sultan Knish said...

To K.A.:

The problem is indeed that conversion for marriage has become too widespread and it's an assumption some are all too ready to make in the case of a woman especially.

It is worst in the more liberal spheres where religion isn't taken seriously and conversion is a matter of self-identification. And at that point the exact distinctions between a Reform Temple and a Unitarian Church can be pretty vague anyway allowing people to move back and forth comfortably.

Jewishness meanwhile is part of a familial religious national covenant. That makes it multidimensional and can be somewhat confusing.

In some ways citizenship is a good metaphor for it. You can be born an American, leave America and move elsewhere but still be thought of as an American even if you've given up your citizenship. By contrast others can move to America and become Americans.

There can be Americans who place no value on America and being Americans. There are others who are apathetic. Still others who are willfully malicious towards their country.

Sultan Knish said...

To Friar:

Let's simply look for a standard of consistent observance, however limited in breadth. A Reform family that weekly observes the Sabbath in more than just 'having a meal', in a consistent way is religiously observant, even if not to the proper extent.

It is at least an element of religious observance that is a part of their daily home life.

Keliata said...

Thank you, Sultan. I agree entirely, especially with what you said about the difference between a lapsed Jew and a messianic Jew. Messianic Jews are out to destroy Judaism and no doubt if granted Israeli citizenship would steal many Jews away from Hashem.


Friar--I wasn't trying to judge among Jews or standards of observance. But as Sultan stated in many cases the lines between reform and the unitarian universalist churchs do kind of mesh together to the point where you ask, "Which G-d are you really worshipping and serving?"


I know that some reform Jews are trying to become more observant and congregations are using hebrew in their services more often. And they should be encouraged in this. Absolutely.

But other things I don't understand...

Example: the siddur reform congregations use omits any reference to a resuscitation of the dead. The orthodox siddur includes it in the Amidah. And resuscitation of the dead is cited in the book of Ezekiel. So why did the reform siddur remove it? I know, I know, it sounds like a christian concept but it's Jewish.

If there is something wrong about saying that Hashem is the resuscitator of the dead then I'm in trouble because I recite this everyday. It's in my siddur.

This particular issue is something groups like Jew for Jesus use to attack ALL Jews, saying we all tamper with G-d's word, but it's the reform congregations that has changed it, not all Jews.

I'm not questioning individual Jews so much as the organizations representing them that establish practices and ideology.

Is one item in a siddur a big thing? Well, yes, if it changes G-d's word to mean something entirely opposite than what He intended. To observe Hashem's laws don't you have to have an accurate understanding of them?

Likewise, look at messianics Jews. They've accepted a lie about what the shema really says in "The Lord Our G-d, the Lord is ONE." That single, essential truth has been distorted and led many Jews away from Hashem.

Keliata said...

Re conversions of convenience/marriage, I think too many people rely on only part of what Ruth said. Your people will be my people, and your G-d will be my G-d.

It's not an either or.

It's essential to know exactly which G-d will be your G-d, who the G-d of your people worship and serve. That takes study, understanding, accurate interpretation of G-d's word.

For me, understanding beyond any doubt that echad means an absolute ONE, singular, not compound one was critically important.

scott said...

So what? It doesn't seem to bother most Jews that Moses would not be able to recognise a modern day Rabinical Jew as any kind of Jew he ever invisioned.

And why indeed should it? The change took 3500 years to transpire and nobody lost anything in the process. As far as we can tell. The change that bothers you so much is similar.

Will these chinese Jews you worry about cease to be monotheists? Will God have to assume the form of a burning bush one day to straighten them out? Very likely. What IS a Jew these day anyway? I certainly can't tell. I mean its gotta be those guys in the funny fur hats, right? Those must be the REAL Jews. The black fedora wearing guys? The half beanie guys? The no-button-pushing-on-Shabbat guys?

Sultan Knish said...

K.A. - it is what they're doing, part of Sharon's corruption has been to let them get a major foothold inside the country, missionary activity has exploded as never before

As to Reform Jews, there are occasional noises about restoring observance but that's just not actually happening on the ground, it's more of something their clergy talk a lot about and debate.

Considering that Reform Judaism originally removed the return to Israel from the siddur, as well as most of the Hebrew, threw out the commandments, changed services to mimic churches and so on... the resurrection of the dead is the least of their problems.

And of course Ruth's conversion did not come with her marriage, it came after it, when she had no prospects to expect and no husband

Sultan Knish said...

Scott, religious Jews are religious Jews. Moshe was the first Rabbi and he gave us G-d's commandments. They were passed down to Yehoshua and from him to the elders and the prophets and the men of the Great Assembly until this present day.

Since the covenant is a covenant with the family of Jacob, the "Chinese Jews" would not be part of the Jewish people.

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Scott the promises made to Israel are physical as well as spiritual.
In that sense intermarriage nullifies them.
If jews intermarry til they are no longer true blood relatives of Yaakov, etc. they Israel is no longer theirs. This is part of the agenda of those pusing intermarriage.

Ask yourself why Israel is he only nation around which Tanakh is centered.

PinkDevora said...

I think you may want to investigate the following statement a little more in depth:

"...pile on the adoptions of Asian babies by liberal Jewish couples that don't want the hassle of actually having their own children."

I know a lot of people who are adopting from China, or who have already adopted from China. Not ONE of them is adopting because they don't want the HASSLE of having their own children. Most of them, including myself, have not been able to have any, or additional, children on their own.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

keliata-

Friar--I wasn't trying to judge among Jews or standards of observance. But as Sultan stated in many cases the lines between reform and the unitarian universalist churchs do kind of mesh together to the point where you ask, "Which G-d are you really worshipping and serving?"

But how, on a procedural level, would that realistically be determined, short of blanket disqualifications of Reform Jews based on things like their siddurim? Do you go by theology? Practice? Etc. Part of the problem seems to be that at this point, you really have extremely divergent definitions and terms when it comes to "practicing/believing Judaism", and so the problem must come back to, what (or more precisely, whose) definitions do you use?

Example: the siddur reform congregations use omits any reference to a resuscitation of the dead. The orthodox siddur includes it in the Amidah. And resuscitation of the dead is cited in the book of Ezekiel. So why did the reform siddur remove it? I know, I know, it sounds like a christian concept but it's Jewish.

If there is something wrong about saying that Hashem is the resuscitator of the dead then I'm in trouble because I recite this everyday. It's in my siddur.


I don't know if it has to be an all-or-nothing thing. I find it hard to believe that the Reform omitting the resurrection of the dead from their amidah indicates an actual animus towards people that do say it. And I would point out that there's also the issue that at this point many of the people in the Reform movement are either Reform by many generations, or people who end up in Reform because they could never believe in Orthodox Judaism. The question then becomes how you can realistically ask them to suddenly incorporate elements of theology and/or liturgy that they've never been raised to believe in, or have outright rejected. Pretty tricky.

This particular issue is something groups like Jew for Jesus use to attack ALL Jews, saying we all tamper with G-d's word, but it's the reform congregations that has changed it, not all Jews.

So what? Neo-Nazis use misinterpreted or manufactured Talmud quotes to claim all Jews believe Jesus' mother was a whore. Is that the Talmud's fault? Should we delete those passages?

Is one item in a siddur a big thing? Well, yes, if it changes G-d's word to mean something entirely opposite than what He intended. To observe Hashem's laws don't you have to have an accurate understanding of them?

A fair question, though I would also note that there are probably many members of Reform Judaism who, as Knish pointed out, don't conceive of God or Judaism in traditional terms, and who see it as more of a folk tradition/religion. The biggest indicator of this, I would argue, is the nullification of halakha. I think the question you raised changes significantly if you start dealing with Jews that don't claim to be observing God's laws in the first place.

Likewise, look at messianics Jews. They've accepted a lie about what the shema really says in "The Lord Our G-d, the Lord is ONE." That single, essential truth has been distorted and led many Jews away from Hashem.

I'd argue that J4Js, etc, are different in that they claim to be the sole legitimate interpretation of Judaism and therefore are in competition to disprove and/or convert Jews. As I understand it, this is not the position of modern Reform Judaism, which hails Jewish pluralism as a major tenet of its theology.

Sultan Knish said...

The divergence with Reform begins with the simple facts that Reform abandoned the essence of Judaism leaving behind nothing but a few rituals.

They abandoned the divine origin of the Torah and the chosen status of the Jewish people, without that there's simply no Judaism.

Without the divine origin of the Torah, the entire religion becomes nothing more than quaint customs and folkways. Without the chosen status, there's no real reason to be Jewish except as tradition or one option.

This goes beyond small differences to very big ones. Too many of the Reform Clergy polled who lacked even a belief in G-d, never mind a specifically Jewish belief.

"I find it hard to believe that the Reform omitting the resurrection of the dead from their amidah indicates an actual animus towards people that do say it."

More a general rejection of belief in prophecy and a redemption, considering that Reform Judaism declared that Berlin was their Jerusalem and the redemption had already come in the form of assimilation into civic life.

"So what? Neo-Nazis use misinterpreted or manufactured Talmud quotes to claim all Jews believe Jesus' mother was a whore. Is that the Talmud's fault? Should we delete those passages?"

I don't see the connection here.

"I'd argue that J4Js, etc, are different in that they claim to be the sole legitimate interpretation of Judaism and therefore are in competition to disprove and/or convert Jews."

J4J doesn't interpret Judaism, it's simply a vehicle for mostly non-Jewish Baptist missionaries, who target non-Jews more than Jews really.

J4J doesn't interpret Judaism, like most Christian beliefs, it supplants it. J4J is more open about this than most Messianic groups, since they're a more straightforward Baptist ministry with complete theological compliance, relative to some messianic Churches. J4J simply fudges their identity for publicity purposes.

"As I understand it, this is not the position of modern Reform Judaism, which hails Jewish pluralism as a major tenet of its theology."

Reform Judaism simply tosses out standards and rules when it comes to Jewish traditions, replaces morality and ethics with liberal politics and that does it.

Scott said...

Sultan,
Where did Moses get his wife? Were Jacob's wives Jewish? How about Joseph? Being Jewish is not about blood. The covenant was given so that its receivers would be as the sand of the sea. You could not be more wrong in your attitude and position. There is a word for it but you'd ban me. Where is it written, "Thou shalt not marry a goyim." If I were you I'd be much more concerned about the First Commandment and teaching all men to accept and follow it.

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Scott,
Intermarriage with the inhabitants of the land is forbidden, according to Deuteronomy 7:3
"and when the LORD thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. neither shalt thou make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son."
Joseph married the daughter of Dina one of his own.
It is all throughout tanakh(bible) that you cannot intermarry with the goyim. Nor can you set one up over you in a position of power.
Ezra had to make the men divorce their wives for this reason once they discovered what had happened.

Jacobs wives were his family.
Avrahams wife was from his own family as was Isaacs wife also from their own extended family.
Being as the sands of the seashore has nothing to do with the nations.
It applies to Israel only....

You would like to change the plain words of G-d to include the entire world, but this is not what is found in tanakh at all.
Neither does your own NT claim such a thing although your church leaders like to ignore that fact.
I will quote you the relevant topics from it if you desire and show you it is a wrong doctrine.

Intermarriage of Israelites with the nations around them is not only a satanic trap designed to waterdown religion, but to nullify the physical promises that G-d made to Israel regarding physical land and physical blessings.
I stress this because most christians have a tendency to spiritualize everything away including the law.
Your anger over it not to the contrary and your name calling of the Sultan aside.. G-d does not change. His words abide then, now and forever.

Kohanim cannot marry converts or anyone outside of the children of Israel..that is also in tanakh if you wish to look it up. This is because the gift of priesthood is a blessing that cannot be shared with outsiders at all. It is only for the tribe of Levi and their subgroup the Kohanim.

yobeeone said...

It's not just Reform that's creating the false converts - it's the ultra-orthodox and orthodox as well. I got partly ostracised for taking on a Chabad rabbi who was being paid enough that he felt the false conversions were worth it. Of course, then he tell the community how awful it was for anyone to marry a goy. Someone forgot that a false convert can go to mikveh as much as they want. They go down a goy and come up a goy.

Our people perish for lack of leaders who fear Hashem.

Der Shygetz said...

yobee - was that the character in Brooklyn Heights? If so you will be pleased to learn that the racket is over and done with.

Keliata said...

"..people who end up in Reform because they could never believe in Orthodox Judaism. The question then becomes how you can realistically ask them to suddenly incorporate elements of theology and/or liturgy that they've never been raised to believe in, or have outright rejected. Pretty tricky."

Friar, I don't see the matter so much as a belief in Orthodox Judaism per se but rather an acceptance of what the Torah and Tannach say. Orthodox congregations are just comprised of people who accept the truth of the Torah and Hashem's word and laws.

These beliefs should and are reflected in the liturgies of the various movements.

Obviously, if a branch of Judaism does or doesn't believe in prophecy for example (eg. resusciation of dead) that will and is reflected in their liturgy. That's just one example.

Again, it's not about Orthodox versus Reform. It's about belief and acceptance of Hashem's word as truth. Either you believe it entirely or you don't. And more often than not, those who do not believe it, change it.

Why change it rather than deny it outright? Changing Hashem's word is apparently easier on the conscience. Take laws about not working on shabbat. A liberal Jew might disagree with this or feel it's too inconvenient. But rather than admitting outright that he's violating Hashem's laws he'd rather change G-d's laws. That way his conscience is cleared--at least in his own mind.

I'm not a Torah scholar by any means, these are just my opinions. I'm not judging anyone, just trying to understand.

Keliata said...

To Scott: I think I know where you're going with your line of questioning and you're off base--in my opinion. And if you're implying FULLY what I think you are, yes, I believe you would get banned if you said it outright.

Firstly, you are mistaken if you believe Sultan implied in any way that only the blood of a Jew is important as an indentifier of Jewish identity. The SOUL is equally important and Sultan has NEVER implied or stated anything contrary to that in all the time I have been reading his blog.

Also, there is nothing in Orthodox Judaism that is contrary to what the First Commandment states. People who want to convert for the proper reasons are allowed to convert and grow close to Hashem and the Jewish people.

Those who do not wish to convert but want to abdandon idoltry and worship the one true G-d can also grow close to Hashem by observing the Noachide Laws.

In other words, we don't keep Hashem to ourselves because we are ethnically superior. It has to do with the covenant we have with G-d and what we are chosen for (again, in my opinion).

Sultan Knish said...

Being Jewish is not about "blood"

And being Jewish the only way to worship G-d. G-d is not our "exclusive" property. He is the G-d of all mankind, whether or not they choose to worship him.

That said G-d chose us from among the nations to serve him. That's not something we made up on a whim, that's in the Bible. That is a covenant he made with a particular man and was passed down through his descendants. To a family.

The first commandment that you mention is

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery"

That's not a commandment for all of mankind, it's a declaration specifically for us. We were brought out of the house of slavery in Egypt. All of mankind was not enslaved in Egypt. It is G-d stating his relationship to us and our relationship to him.

None of this means racial superiority or exclusivity, it does not mean not letting anyone else in but it does mean maintaining the family. A family that can trace back itself back to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

When G-d first calls to Moshe to go and redeem the Jews out of Egypt, he tells him: "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."

G-d does not simply proclaim that he is G-d, he calls on the family relationship that continued to that day and to this.

Finally Lemon has cited a number of biblical references, I can point you simply to Nehemiah 13:23-30

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

SK,

"So what? Neo-Nazis use misinterpreted or manufactured Talmud quotes to claim all Jews believe Jesus' mother was a whore. Is that the Talmud's fault? Should we delete those passages?"

I don't see the connection here.


In response to the claim that Reform Judaism is bad because missionaries use their changes to halakha as a tool to bash all Jews as nonbelievers in God? You don't see a connection? It's about where blame for idiots gets assigned. What other marching orders should we take from Christian missionaries? That missionaries exploit one movement of Judaism's theology (or lack thereof) for their own purposes doesn't invalidate it.

They abandoned the divine origin of the Torah and the chosen status of the Jewish people, without that there's simply no Judaism.

Without the divine origin of the Torah, the entire religion becomes nothing more than quaint customs and folkways. Without the chosen status, there's no real reason to be Jewish except as tradition or one option.


Well I don't believe in any of that, so where does that leave people like me?

Again, it's not about Orthodox versus Reform. It's about belief and acceptance of Hashem's word as truth. Either you believe it entirely or you don't. And more often than not, those who do not believe it, change it.

Why change it rather than deny it outright? Changing Hashem's word is apparently easier on the conscience. Take laws about not working on shabbat. A liberal Jew might disagree with this or feel it's too inconvenient. But rather than admitting outright that he's violating Hashem's laws he'd rather change G-d's laws.


Well, that's my position. I don't give a hoot about halakha and never have. IMO, Reform is closer to this position than Conservative Judaism. Reform's radical changes (and their early positions) seem to indicate a pretty clear outlook that halakha is not binding. Conservative, on the other hand, tries to "adapt" the law, putting them in a much trickier position.

Anonymous said...

Maintaining the family. I like that. Todah for putting it in words I can understand and relate to :)
Yes, the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people is unique, not general as with all mankind. He gave us a specific covenant.

I'm just trying to figure out where this puts righteous converts, who cannot trace their blood to the children of Avraham.
Yes, Hashem certainly is the G-d of all humanity, including those who worship Him and those who do not. I justes used that term to differentiate between people who wan to convert and those who want to serve Hashem but cannot or do not wish to convert.

Kelia ata posting from work.


Shabba shalom

scott said...

You guys are not being honest. You know full well that Joseph married an Egyptian woman and his two sons Ephraim and Manassah are genitically only half jewish. By modern standards of what makes a 'Jew' they are not even jewish. This alone is precedent enough to disprove your theories about racial purity.

But there's more. Much more and you know it. But you Rabinical Jews will seize on a minor precedent and turn it into a Commandment. As always. The Jews of Joshua's time were not to intermarry with the particulars idolaters that were being swept from the Promised Land. Makes sense. That you take this particular directive given for THAT particular time and THAT particular situation and extrapolate to your present xenophobia is dishonest.

HOWEVER .... I do support the spiritual essence of what you believe. One who loves God should never marry an unbeliever. Ethnicity be damned.

Oh yeah, that 'sands of the sea' quote went along with ' a blessing unto all nations' as well and you know this too. Given the tiny number of Jews presently alive .... either God was wrong or you have deeply misunderstood his purposes.

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Another arguement used is that Joseph married an Egyptian.
However nothing of the sort is said in the bible.
He married a daughter of the priest of On who were semitic and Jews who have been given the task of preserving both the written law and the oral family traditions and records know that this daughter was the adopted daughter of that man and was actually the daughter of Dina , also a relative of Joseph.
Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov were all forbidden to marry outside their family.
To believe that the G-d who says he does not change then allowed Yosef to marry outside his religion and belief system or outside his family is nonsense and comes from lack of understanding.
The same G-d who demanded that the patriarchs keep within their family, did not relax those views for Joseph, Rahav or for Ruth and all were of the family of Avraham.
They simply had to be or G-d is a liar.
But you see, men like to fudge the law.
If they can show that G-d himself winks at the law and fudges a bit from time to time, then it allows them to do the same.
No, Ruth was called a moabite.
Well I am called an American but that is not my genetic heritage.

The idea of intermarriage is to nullify promises and waterdown theology and religion. that is its goal and aim and why it was forbidden in tanakh.

To allow it and to say that G-d also allowed it is a ploy to get over on the law of G-d . For, if you can get over on it in one instance, you can get over on it in many more and the law becomes empty and useless.

Can someone convert? Yes.And if they do, they are 100% Jewish. They do not, however, have access to the physical blessings that are bestowed directly but only through a mate.

scott said...

If you don't put up my last post I will know you are the bigot I suspect you are.

Sultan Knish said...

Scott, I don't do work on the Sabbath or use the computer or blog or put up posts on the Sabbath. That's one of the 10 Commandments.

If following them makes me a bigot, so be it.

Sultan Knish said...

Scott, the issue is not genetics or racial purity. Those are modern ideas. As I said up above, the issue is maintaining the family of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

A family does not mean that no one outside it can come in. It does mean however that the family should remain intact.

The prohibition against intermarriage isn't just stated by Moshe or Yehoshua, as I pointed out it recurs by Ezra and Nehemiah and by King Solomon in numerous other places. It is not limited to any particular group of people.

And we being "Rabbinical Jews" as you put it, when we are repeatedly told in the Bible not to do something, take that as a commandment rather than the Bible simply containing stuff for no particular reason as more "enlightened" people do.

In any case we indeed marry people who believe as we do. Those people, whether or not ethnically Jewish, are part of the Jewish people since only Jews believe as we do.

A blessing to all nations? In case you haven't been paying attention, we are a blessing unto all nations. Take a good look at the history of modern medicine for example. Or your own religion.

Sand on the shore? Avraham was one man. Out of him came hundreds of millions of people across thousands of years of history.

Keliata said...

Well, well, looks like I was correct about Scott after all.

Keliata said...

I'm just waiting for Scott to compare us to Nazis and their perverted, evil notion of a master race, which I believe is his real intent.

That's really what you are saying with all of your talk of xenophobia, whether you realize it or not, isn't it? Even though Sultan and Lemon have have more than clarified what they meant and what Judaism teaches.

Just say it outright and stop beating around the bush.

(Sorry Sultan, I just felt the need to call him on the carpet and not let him hide what he's really suggesting.)

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Scott. Orthodox Jewish blogs are closed on Shabbat.. Friday night to Saturday night.
We keep the Sabbath as best we can and do not work or blog on that day. Nor do we check our blogs at all. So if you post late friday or saturday your post will have to wait til late sat nite or even til sunday or monday depending on what is going on.
No one is trying to silence you.

Anonymous said...

Re: "rabbincal judaism" Using that term as some kind of epithet shows how the propaganda machine of non jewish religions has done a number on ideas and thought.

This is how the majority of christians believe however and its kind of sad such things are propagated for so very long.

Sultan Knish said...

Yes K.A. you're right and it's essentially what I expected from him

Anonymous said...

I actually question the assertion that Asian culture is more similar to Jewish culture than any other culture...

It is an assertion that I have seen and heard made several times, but as a Jew, and a Jew of color, I do not find to be particularly true...

The Jewish diaspora, extending out beyond the Indo-Mediterranean basin from the Middle East and a Middle Eastern culture of origin, is also made up of layers of culture which are representative of every continent, and not just Asia...

I wonder to what degree, by marrying into certain communities within the Jewish diaspora, Asian women are "acquiring whiteness" or other social status...This is a claim that I have heard made by several Asian-American men, some of whom now find it very difficult to marry Asian women, time and time again...

Anonymous said...

Moreover, Judaism has no color...the diaspora extends into every continent, and reflects the layers of ethnic and cultural identity and the layers of the social construct of racial indentity that are present in the larger world...

Those Jews who are observant Jews share the common core of accepting the obligation of living their lives according to Torah, maintaining an intimate relationship with Oushmo Ehad...

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