Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Separate Religions? Reform, Conservative versus Just Plain Jewish?

Dry Bones

For many Jews and others, the official announcement by the Israeli Government that it would be recognizing and supporting Reform Jewish and Conservative Jewish rabbis and congregations is good news.

As I've written many times before, I don't go for all these officials versions of Judaism.  I don't even subscribe to the label "Orthodox Judaism."  I'm just a Jew who follows the Torah as best as I can. 

Orthodox Judaism is an American term, a reaction to the officially changed version of Jewish practice labeled Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism.  If I'm not mistaken, Reconstructionist Judaism came after the Orthodox label.

By codifying and naming their abridged versions of Judaism, the various founders (well-meaning no doubt) of Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Liberal (as it is called in some countries) Judaisms have separated themselves from standard, historic (small "s") traditional (small "t") Judaism, the Judaism that has endured thousands of years.

Judaism is a very complex religion.  Not only are there 613 mitzvot, Torah-based commandments, there are many other required laws and serious traditions.  Nobody can keep/follow every single one of them.  Some aren't relevant for today and some are gender based.  There's nothing wrong with gender based laws.  Men and women are different.  It's a basic fact of life.  Just as female and male physiologies aren't the same, our ways to worship G-d shouldn't be the same.  It's childish and naive to think we can ignore these basic facts.  That may be difficult for some people to accept.

Even in what appears to most as the most Torah-observant time in the Bible we can read of many Jews who sinned or ignored G-d's Commandments.  That's human nature.  And I guess it's also human nature for some people to try to rationalize away their lack of observance by changing the rules.

Most of us have seen children "cheat" at games by claiming that the game rules permit what they are doing.

In a sense that's the rationale, the history of those other Judaisms.  They are attempts to change the rules, commandments of Judaism to suit their observance.

Judaism has existed and slowly evolved over thousands of years, but our basic belief in G-d and the importance of following the Torah hasn't changed.  We've lost many Jews to assimilation and other religions, life-styles, philosophies over the millennia.

What we do, observe etc are between us and G-d. The final accounting is after death.

Here in HP
I found it very interesting that among the reports about the most recent Salute to Israel Parade was the one that said that most participants were Orthodox Jews.  That says something very important about American Jewry and Jewry in general.


Jennifer in MamaLand said...

I agree to some extent, but also disagreed in some ways. I was going to type in a reply here, but it got WAY too long, so I fleshed it out into a full post that I hope is somewhat coherent.

Sandra said...

Well I do agree. Except that here in the UK we also have people belonging to orthodox shuls, who either come 3 x a year or come Shabbat and go shopping afterwards. So even the edges of orthodox Judaism are being nibbled away! Yet they would describe themselves as orthodox.

Hillel Levin said...

Losing Zuckerberg
Why Did Facebook King Move Away From Reform Judaism?

A Reform rabbis asks.


Hadassa said...

What Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist,Liberal etc Judaism have in common, and how they differ from Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Hassidic, Mitnaged etc. Judaism is that the first group declare that the Torah is not completely binding whereas the second group, for all of their differences in interpretation, declare that the Torah is completely binding.
The "Judaism that has endured thousands of years" is the belief that the Torah must be observed in it's entirety. Any differences in interpretation do not negate that belief.

Moriah said...

"What we do, observe etc are between us and G-d. The final accounting is after death."

Yes, that's very nice...we're all just Jews but many of these Jews are marrying Gentile women and having Gentile children who grow up with xmas and Chanukah. They have no Jewish education and no interest beyond the elastic boundaries of Reform or Conservative all-embracing hashkafa. (Openly homosexual rabbis, kippah wearing women rabbis, rallying for the palestinians, eating trief, violating Shabbos, etc. )Their 'temples' encourage deviation from every pillar of halachic Judaism. You can say we are the same but in fact the truth is we are not. It's a nice sentiment but if we all were to do our own thing and not struggle to be shomer Shabbos, keep kosher and marry other Jews -- G-d forbid! I'm not saying to be cruel or reject them - we should be warm and loving. But not accepting of their ways. Will you let them cook in your home or marry your son or daughter? Do you really thing the NIF and Peace Now Jews are just Jews?

Batya said...

Moriah, we've passed the crucial stage of not "we're all just Jews," because those "various" Judaism do their own conversions.

Sandra, the lack of observance is between the Jew and G-d, but the problem is when the definition of Judaism has been changed.

Hillel, yes, without real "rules" and too much choice...

Hadassa, good description of the basic difference.

Jennifer, I'll check out your post.

Alan said...

rabbinic judaism became necessary after the loss of Hebrew political/bureaucratic sovereignty in the Land of Israel. With the renewal of Hebrew political sovereignty, it is un-necessary. Present day rabbinic Judaism has no appeal to, nor is able to morally influence, a gigantic fraction of Jews. So, one could choose to blame the people; or to blame the rabbi's. I chose to do the latter.

Anyway, it's all over but the shouting. The IDF & the Magav is the actual new Sanhedrin. They are doing conversions; they decide who listens to girls singing when; they decide what is kosher enough for a Hebrew Army. Furthermore, it's only a matter of time before there will be (hebrew-speaking)Druzi chaplains. Then the rabbis will be in a panic. No problem; they can all go to Monsey NY where the welfare-scamming is more lucrative. They are not actually needed when the King and his court already do government business and run their bureauracy in Hebrew.

You may ask: what if lots of foreigners who don't play along with our little cult start to speak Hebrew? For example, the (1200 Filipino-Catholic kids currently serving in IDF). Well, we have historical precedent for that too: Hiram of Tyre built the Temple, didn't he? Those Phoenicians were Hebrew speaking pagans. And guess what? somehow,mysteriouslly, the kohanim and levites found a rational to ==accept the welfare-scam-gifts== rendered to them in the sacrificial-rites regime!!! So you see, imaginations of past ritual purity are just that..... a re-write of history in the name of wishful thinking. Maybe the Palestinians learned it from the rabbis!!!

Alan said...

>> Yes, that's very nice...we're all just Jews but many of these Jews are marrying Gentile women and having Gentile children who grow up with xmas and Chanukah. They have no Jewish education and no interest beyond the elastic boundaries of Reform or Conservative all-embracing hashkafa

Girl, we's already been there and done that. And it didn't hurt a lick.

Shlomo ha-Melekh had in excess of 1,000 babes shacked-up with him in his Royal compounds in either "wife" or "lady friend" status. Including tons of shiksas. No one anywhere can point to a single peice of plausible evidence that this habit damaged the sovereignty of a Hebrew shilton in between the River and the Sea.

What made the United Kingdom fall apart was Shlomo's decision to finish three generations of construction-project within his own single lifetime. He did that by enacting CRUSHING taxation and forced-labor-conscriptions upon the Hebrew speakers.

When Shlomo passed on to his shiksa-laden harem-n-the-sky, the ten northern tribes finally said out loud: "to hell with amortizing THOSE public debts!".

Human nature never changes. The clerical establishment never really was in favor of boots-on-the-ground political zionism, and they aren't very enthusiastic about not being in control of IDF now. Why? Becuase when there's a King of the Hebrews, the High Priest is not on top of the totem pole. The current government is just the latest flavor of Royal Family.

I'm not in love with Har ha_Beit being over-run by pagan filth. But if every cloud has a silver lining, you could ask: if those two mosques magically disappeared, would a shooting civil war break out amongst the Jews about what to put in their place; who's gonna be in charge; and who gets the required-tributes (religious faacilities always have those!) that flow in?!?