Alternative Judaisms


Alternative Judaisms | Felix Posen I shall address the metamorphoses of Judaisms leading to the phenomena of Secular Judaism – the alternative expression ( from an historical point of view ) of the majority of our people . I shall try to describe and define this form of Judaism and demonstrate how it varies between Israel and the Diaspora and to compare its characteristics , problems , strengths & weaknesses in contrast to religious Judaism and speculate about its future . The radical changes that have characterised Judaism since time immemorial are a reflection of the flexible genius like adaption of our culture and religion to the changes which history either forced upon us or to which we reacted . Has anyone ever tallied up the numerous forms of Judaism , which have existed and still exist ? I have never seen such a list . Historically our forefathers were polytheists , then veered towards monotheism with hundreds of years of overlap between poly - and monotheism , the creation of groups such as the Sadduccees , Pharisees , Essenes , Hellenizers , Karaites , Rabbinic Judaism , which in turn split into myriad of sects , Kabbalists who also metamorphosed over time into varying sects , the rise of Chassidism and its numerous sects and cults many with their own wunderrabbis , the endless debates and fights as to who had the truer essence of our religious culture , the development of canons for the Tenach , Mishna and Talmud over a period of a few hundred years , the debates about the rankings of these canons , the endless fights about what should or should not be studied in the Yeshivas , the eventual formation since the enlightenment , over the past 200 years , of Judaisms such as the conservative , reform , reconstruction movements , each declared a heresy by the older form of Judaism . It is a veritable breathless array of developments all in the name of God and the Jewish religion . I suspect I have mentioned well less than 50 % of the movements and sects , which have arisen , in our history . Lo and behold , there also arose during the past 150-200 years , in a totally spontaneous manner , without organization or leaders , proselytisers , literature or an address , what is now generally referred to as secular , cultural or humanistic Judaism ( I shall use primarily the word secular as it is best known . I also wish to make it clear that that I am not “ selling ” secular Judaism , which should be considered simply another positive option of one of the many forms of Judaism , but that I do not seek co-workers in this field whose primary aim and effort is anti-religion . Of course , I oppose any form of coercion from the religious as well as the secular ) . It now encompasses well over 50 % of our people , and gaining pace . Though everyone is aware of this phenomenon , very little has been written about this , by far the largest grouping of our people . Even the famous American 1990 census , which did not provide for an easy to answer category for anyone not belonging to the three main streams of Judaism , came up with 1 . 5 million so called cultural , i . e ., non religious Jews . Religious leaders world over - Jews , Christians and Muslims - fear the vague , formless , amorphous threat-like cancer of secularism . Being largely uninstitutionalised , it is unattackable via no leadership , congregation , leader , or address . When it is institutionalised then it becomes a worrying matter as it may compete for power . In fact , in Israel secular Jews are partially institutionalised and are becoming active – the only country in the world that has an acknowledged and identifiable , countrywide , Jewish secular society

Posen Foundation

לצפייה מיטבית ורציפה בכותר