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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Clem Kadiddlehopper and Conversion

I admit that this will probably rile many.

I am a Torah Jew.  I was born Jewish, to a family of generations of Jews, but not Torah observant.  As a teen I discovered (in NCSY) that being Jewish was more than lighting the Chanukah Menorah, eating hamantaschen, matzah and challot.

Torah Judaism is the Judaism that has lasted for thousands of years.  Other "versions" have either faded from existence or become new religions, like Christianity.  Simplistically, that's it.  The synonym for Torah Judaism is Orthodox Judaism.  It's not based on innovating Judaism, nor gives each synagogue the right to decide how to observe G-d given Commandments.  Yes, I believe in G-d and I consider Judaism as the way we should live specifically, not vaguely.

It's human nature for each individual to observe as he or she wishes but not to claim that his/her version is the true Judaism.

Conversion to Judaism must be to Torah Judaism or it's not to Judaism at all.  Getting into proper English Grammar, it's clear that since Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism all capitalize the "adjective" they are making it a new religion,rather than just descriptive individual/personal observances.

This is not to disparage the sincerity and good intentions of the converts who truly wish to be Jewish, nor is it to belittle the seriousness of many of the courses of study that Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism frequently demand.  I know Jews who have converted more than once, after they discovered that "choosing a Judaism" isn't like choosing between Macintosh and Granny Smith apples.  An apple is an apple, but the "Judaisms" aren't all Judaism.  It's "misleading advertising"  to claim that they're all the same.

This can cause terrible tragedies and heartbreak, unlike Clem Kadiddlehopper and his diploma to be a dentist.


Bryan said...

"It's human nature for each individual to observe as he or she wishes but not to claim that his/her version is the true Judaism."

Isn't that the claim you're making?

Also, "Orthodox Judaism" and "Torah Judaism" both have capitalized descriptive adjectives too. Maybe you should start calling yourselves just "Jews" practicing "Judaism," lest people think that you are not as normative as you claim to be.

There has always been diversity in Judaism. Back in the Second Temple period, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sicarii were all Jews. In the 16th century, the Kabbalists were Jews just like the non-Kabbalists. In the 17th century, the Hasidim and the Mitnagdim were all Jews. Jewish history is full of innovation. To deny Judaism that is to deny a living thing air.

As for yourself, ask the really frum Haredim or the Karaites if you yourself are practicing "real Judaism."

Yonatan said...

I'm one of those that went through 3 conversions on my path to Hashem (Reformed, Conservative, Orthodox). I don't feel that there is any other Jewish than Orthodox, but I can say that the path Hashem sent me on was for my own good.

It took me 15 years to admit to being fed up with the whole thing and my Mother-in-law dragging me to a Chabad house (in desperation, she's conservative) to learn. I had never met anyone that actually took the commandments as literal (not just the one's that make sense in todays day and age) and it changed my life forever. I don't think I would have gone along with it in the beginning, so in a way, their existence is what brought me to the Torah.

27 years later, I moved my family, with Hashem's help, to Israel. Thank you Hashem!

If your story is something like mine in the beginning, do yourself a favor a start learning in earnest. There is only 1 G-d and 1 Torah.

Batya said...

Bryan, Torah is written with a capital "t." There was no "orthodox Judaism" until there were the others. Many of us don't use the term. In Israel, we're just dati, religious.

Yonatan, I'm sure you have an amazing story.

Unknown said...

I should also point out that the term "Orthodox" was actually invented by the Haskalah and the early Reformists as a pejorative. It is just that it has, unfortunately, become necessary to add an adjective because people refuse to understand the history of "Judaism".

It is true that there have been heretical "sects" that have grown up among us. The Sadducees, and the Karaites. actually were political movements that pretended to be "religious" movements. The Sadducees were actually the Hellenists who reinvented themselve after the Maccabees defeated them in order to both save their lives and to insinuate themselves into power. They were like the East Germans who kept their government jobs (as jailors and torturers) after World War II and served the new masters. The Karaites were invented after the founder lost the competition for the head of the Babylonian Jewish community so that the government would not kill him for "revolting" against the person who was appointed. The Sicarii were actually a gang of criminals who never claimed to be a different "stream" of Judaism. They were the equivalent of the Jewish gangsters who joined the Mafia and founded Murder Incorporated.

The original German Reform movement was actually a result of the enlightenment and was mainly political in nature. It was only a generation or so later that they developed a philosophical backing for their actions in order to justify themselves.

Unknown said...

Soccer Dad just pointed me to this post at The Muqata which deals with the subject of those who try to force everyone to accept everyone else (which leads to a contradiction) in the name of "Jewish Unity". I think that you would find it of interest and connected to what you posted.

Soccer Dad said...


Sabba Hillel directed me here.

If someone (in America) said he didn't believe in the constitution, would you use him as a lawyer?

If someone said he didn't believe in the scientific method, would you used him as a doctor?

What's the difference with religion?

in the vanguard said...

This was an excellent article. The humor was ok as desert. But the comments really brought it all out as
G R E A T !!

Batya said...

I didn't know how this would be accepted. Another thing to continue what soccer dad wrote is that I wouldn't ask a chutz l'Aretz rabbi, even the most Torah observant, questions about aliyah.

in the vanguard said...

Batya - that last comment was unfair. Perhaps for you aliyah was easily arranged and things fel quite nicely into place. Others have other concerns and you should not make a psak-din where it doesn't belong.

One of the signs of Moshiach being who he really is will be the ingathering of ALL Jews to our Holy Land. So leave him some work to do.

An anecdote, the exact wording has long escaped me, but the gist is correct.: Once a soldier came to the Rebbe and asked him why he doesn't make aliyah. (This was asked of him several times, and there are several responses.) As the general of this big army, the Rebbe should take the lead and show an example. The Rebbe said to him that he too was in the army, only in the department of the Navy. And the Admiral of the ship is last to disembark.

in the vanguard said...

Bryan - You make a good point, but fail to draw the right conclusion. All forms of Judaism other than orthodox may, in fact, exist for a generation or two. But beyond that it becomes extinct.

You might jump in and say, "But reform and conservative have been around for longer than that," but you're looking at collective illusion. If you look for the individual practitioners, they're long lost to other nationalities; They no longer contribute to the Jewish gene pool.

I once had a post on that issue, here:

As for your open mind, I notice you have none. Because my comment on your blog, you blocked.

Batya said...

Who blocked what?

It's a very rare chutz l'aretz rabbi who can get himself out of his galut-mentality. I once had an awful experience with one who was sincerely pro-aliyah until it came to others. complicated story

Hadassa said...

at the edge, I also had a comment that didn't get posted on the blog. I asked Batya and she replied that she hadn't blocked it. Sometimes comments get lost in cyberspace.

Batya said...

I don't know how to block comments if I wanted. All I can do is close comments or delete, which are rarely done.

in the vanguard said...

What's with you Batya and Hadassa.
Do you just quick-glance the comments
so they're all in some haze for you?

I wrote to BRYAN about blocking me.
He's a liberal, left-wing fellow who
quoted from his left-wing stuff he
reads. When I wrote a comment on HIS
blog, HE blocked my comment.

I wrote to Bryan on THIS post, where he left
HIS comment. The first on this page. Then I
went to HIS blog and THERE wrote a
comment on what HE has there written.
That comment HE could not bare to show
his "followers". So he deleted my comment.

Hadassa said...

at the edge, I will admit that every once in a while I misread a comment, as many others do, but I try very hard not to be rude when I correct others. You should too. Your "haze" reference was totally out of line.

Bryan said...

Wow. At the edge, I apologize for any confusion. First, I have been on vacation for some time and have not even been on a computer since I last commented here. Second, I do not check my blog very often--notice, the last post was in *March.* I did not block your comment. I moderate all comments and simply had not approved it because I was on vacation and don't check my blog very often. Third, I quoted from the Huffington Post because someone else gave me the link to the Israel videos on that site and I didn't feel like going through extra effort to find them on another site. To be clear, I don't like the Huffington Post because it's clear the editors hate Israel, and its comments pages read like Stormfront. For the record, his comment is:

"Wish you luck in your new endeavor. But why you have to start off with the left leg, by quoting from a most-leftist HuffPost is - irritating. Sorry, but, like mosquitos, these references ARE a nuisance because they promote, if not propogate, the wrong forums."

I won't post it on my blog because I don't even read my blog, so I don't expect others to either. I would, however, appreciate an apology for the lashon hara you have committed in attributing to me nonexistent malice.

As for Sabba Hillel, you neglected to answer my point about the Hasidim, who were considered heretics hundreds of years ago but who are now indisputably Jews. This was perhaps my most important point, because the Hasidim are still around, while--for a variety of reasons--the other sects are not.

in the vanguard said...

Bryan, and Hadassah - my apologies.

Hadassa said...

Apology accepted.

Hadassa said...

Bryan, I hope that Saba Hillel comes back and answers the your question, but I'd like to add something also.
The difference between the Hassidim and the other groups is that the Hassidim do not deny the validity of the Tora, written or oral. The Karaites deny the validity of the oral Tora so they shouldn't be grouped with any Hareidim. There are disagreements about certain points in the oral Tora, as there always have been..., but the unifying bond between all Tora observant Jews, from Hassidim to Modern Orthodox to Hareidim is the belief in the absolute truth of the Tora, written and oral.