Identity, Religion

Ow! Don't cut me with that edge!

I offer only a question in this post. With all the debate about Judaism’s viability, in the end, for most of us it comes down to God. Unlike a recent commenter on another post, I do think that Judaism is internally compelling, and needs no outside forces to keep it together. In fact,I’m living proof of it, as I’m possibly the most unlikely observant Jew ever. Well, okay, maybe there are some who started out as more unlikely than atheist analytic philosophers and ended up as rabbis. I admit to meeting a very few, but still, I think it was a pretty long road.
So I ask you, if we are looking to the future, -and let’s assume for the sake of argument that Judaism is surviving, and perhaps even thriving- what is the future? What are the frontiers of Jewish thought, and where is God in them? I’ve been asked to expound on this, and I have some firm ideas, but I want to hear from you.
Write to me and tell me what you think.
Crossposted to Kol Ra’ash Gadol Permalink here

7 thoughts on “Ow! Don't cut me with that edge!

  1. I am 40ish..on track in two years to leave my country club dues type refrom shul. Have never liked going to a refrom shul, but it the ONLY thing out where I live. It is either that or one of the 50 baptist churches around me.
    In two years I will be driving in for Chabad activities.
    I will probably have new observant pals. My reform pals will shun me thinking I joined a cult.
    I will finally be done with the tablecloth I am embroidering fro my 21 year old daughter, and hope it will be given to her soon as her wedding gift.
    I am still looking for the perfect Shabbos would involve deep tradition, a mehitza, easier to follow Hebrew, and singing,,by all. A sermon given with no papers in hand by a Rabbi who knows my name.

  2. G-d is everywhere.
    and the frontier is everywhere. two jews are a community. anywhere. a mitzvah is a mitzvah. anywhere. observant and frum and progressive and indie and whatever labels you want to attach have little significance next to the word Jew. A Jew is a Jew. Anywhere.
    What do you do? Mitzvot. Can’t do them all right now? Do what you can.
    Learn what you can with whoever you can.
    Be kind and spare your criticism for those you know almost as well as yourself and are your equal in Torah and mitzvot. This alone will solve most of the problems in our communities.

  3. KRG, blessings to you for such a refreshing post. Thanks for leading another great discussion!
    For me, God is very important, but…. I see God as a word that describes a mystery, not a seperate being that grants wishes and punishes the wicked. Imagine a spectrum between pure atheism, and the kind of god that gives you a lottery ticket if you obey the rules. Most Jews are closer to atheism, or more accurately, agnosticism.
    Judaism for me is about the experience of spirituality and religion – experiences that exist for other faiths, and even non-faith practices, like Buddhism or TM. It’s also about wanting that connection to a community, a tradition, some chain of consciousness that has deeper roots than say, the self actualization movement.
    It’s about an internal life that means something, a practice that affirms that meaning. If God were proven not to exist – most of what I believe and pracice would remain intact. At least – I think it would.
    Dear God – I don’t know if you exist, but I want to be close to you anyway. Dear God, I feel in my bones that if you do exist, you accept my mitzvot and ethical behavior as worship. Dear God, I hope I please you and affirm the relationship with my forefathers and foremothers. Dear God, thank you for all the gifts this world has to offer, especially the love others have for me and the love I have for others. Dear God, I’m especially sorry about confusing my political impulses for divine guidance. I’m working on myself to develop more humility on these things… but I won’t stay away from issues that seem important to speak out about.

  4. I think one of the most compelling things about Judaism is that even though we each have our own ideas about our personal beliefs and our personal practice, we’re still all reading the same texts, and finding our own concepts of God in those texts.
    None of us has exactly the same idea of who or what God is, even though the images we’re handed as a basis for our personal beliefs all come from the torah. And I’m always fascinated to hear other people talk about their images of God, their ideas and where those ideas came from.
    I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a dynamic religion, which encourages me to stretch my own thinking and develop my own interpretations within the context of a broader community of people who are (for the most part) doing the same thing. And whether my community is a 1,000-member reform shul, a small independent minyan, a social action organization, or just me at home lighting candles in my apartment, I am just as obligated to continue to work towards a deeper understanding of my relationship to God.

  5. The problem with g-d is that he is the end of judaism.
    For instance: the voice that speaks cannot be the true voice, and god is not anywhere more than wherever he is noticed. And once this becomes clear, all the other boundaries that make jewish identity possible start to fall away.
    neo-Sabbateanism, post halachic excuses to keep singing and playing together are as much future as I’ve been noticing. The secular becoming less threatened by religion as it becomes less terrible, just boundaried enough to make people feel safe yet involved, are the other side of it. What’s it all for, as the divine voice refuses to speak except through our desire, be it for ethnic-tribal defensiveness, or trans-boundary survival of the real essence, what really matters after All.

  6. BT: deep tradition, a mehitza, easier to follow Hebrew, and singing,,by all. A sermon given with no papers in hand by a Rabbi who knows my name.
    OK, BT, I will admit that I don’t even know what a mehitza is and that I have seen the rabbis use notes now and then, but otherwise I think you pretty well described the shul I go to. And yes it’s reform.
    Shmuel and Jew Guevara and Marisa: amein.

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