Thursday, November 21, 2013
Change in Rituals Divide Jewish People, Re: Pew Report and The Bible
Recently the Jewish world has been talking about the Pew Report, which gives a depressing, though not all that surprising report of the American Jewish population. Simply put, the more traditionally observant the stronger the growth and outlook for the future.
This year in the Bible course I'm taking in Matan, taught by Dr. Yael Ziegler, we've been learning about the split in the Jewish Kingdom after the reign of King Solomon, The southern Judah Kingdom kept Jerusalem as religious capital and was ruled by King Rachavam, while the northern Israel Kingdom was led by King Yiravm (Jeroboam.) The true split in the Jewish People began when the religion in the north changed from traditional Jewish practice, the Torah.
It reminds me of what has been happening to the Jewish People in modern times. The "newer versions" of Judaism, Reform, Liberal, Conservative, etc. generally don't last too many generations, because the fewer Torah Mitzvot (commandments) a family observes, the statistically quicker their road to assimilation.
Many of these traditions and laws may seem unimportant and pedantic to some, which is why they are "deleted" from modern Jewish practice by many. Individual non-observance has always existed, but the recent institutionalization of it, making it official practice has truly and dangerously split the Jewish People. Today many people think they and their parents and children are Jewish, but they aren't. This is the result of changing the definition of Jewish lineage from the mother only to from either parent and non-Torah observant conversion.
I have no doubt that many of those who have made these changes have done so with the best of intentions, hoping to hold on to as many Jews as possible, but the results are the opposite. We lose more Jews than we gain, especially in future generations.