A Jewish Agenda for the New Millennium

Article excerpt

Regardless of which calendar you live by, the shift to the year 2000 carries with it an opportunity to think about the future. As part of that thinking process I would like to add the following items to the Jewish agenda for the new millennium.

1. The end of "non-Jews." There is no such thing as a "non-Jew." There are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, secularists, atheists, and any number of other identities, but no one identifies him or herself as a "nonJew. " If we Jews are to enter into meaningful dialogue with the multiform faiths and philosophies of the world, we must strike the word "non-Jew" from our vocabulary; we must cease defining people by what they are not, and begin to understand them for what they are.

2. The end of denominations. God commanded us to be holy, not Orthodox or Reform. There are only two kinds of Jews: serious and not serious, Serious Jews place Judaism at the center of their lives; not serious Jews place Judaism on the periphery. Serious Jews, from the most halachic to the most humanist, share a love of and commitment to Jewish civilization that can form the basis for real dialogue and cooperation. Let us redirect our energies, financial and spiritual, away from denominational competition and toward creative cooperation among serious Jews.

3. A marriage of science and soul. Conventional Jewish theology is anachronistic, incapable of embracing the scientific truths revealed by chaos and complexity theories, quantum mechanics, and contemporary biology. Let us fund a serious ongoing conversation among Jewish mystics, rabbis, scholars, and scientists aimed at creating a new (or renewed) Jewish vocabulary for talking about God.

4. Reclaiming Jesus. Jesus the Jew, as opposed to Jesus the Christ, is the most influential Jew of all time. Yet we have allowed the horrors perpetrated in his name to prevent us from claiming him as one of our own. We need to enter the debate on the historical Jesus, adding to the authentic picture of Jesus as a first-century Jewish mystic, reformer, and healer. We need to help the world understand not the religion about Jesus, but the religion of Jesus, the religion to which we have remained true for thousands of years.

5. Reclaiming the Feminine. In our ancestors' attempt to distinguish themselves from their Goddess-worshipping neighbors, they lost touch with the feminine side of God, life, and humanity. We must reclaim the Shechinah, the feminine presence of God, and integrate the masculine and feminine sides of ourselves as God originally intended. Let us encourage the feminist critique of Judaism, and allow for a real revolution within Judaism as Jewish women and the feminine come to full power in every aspect of Jewish life.

6. Honoring the earth. The Bible celebrates the wonder of nature without falling into the trap of worshipping nature, yet modern Judaism has lost touch with the earthy and the sensual. We must reconnect our holy days with the seasons, and refocus our spiritual energies on honoring the earth as a place filled with the glory of God. …