Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

XVIII
JUDAISM AND INTERCULTURAL CONTACTS

BY MORDECAI M. KAPLAN

THE impact of modernism as an ideological force has shaken the Jew's faith in his two-thousand- year-old tradition. The impact of modernism as a sociological force has wrought havoc in Judaism as a way of life. Remembering that modernism spells the assumption that man's salvation can be achieved only in this world through the exercise of intelligence and initiative, we have the key to the various aspects of the modern man's way of life, whether he be Jew or Gentile.

The new conception of salvation has removed the chief obstacle to cultural contact between Jews and the rest of the world, the obstacle inherent in the doctrine that only those who are eligible to salvation in the hereafter are eligible to citizenship in the state. With that fell the walls which had isolated the Jews from the Western nations. By being integrated into the life of those nations, the Jews are exposed to all the social and cultural forces which operate in their environment. But in the same way as the enlightenment, in the very process of destroying the traditional Jewish ideology, has been supplying the principles on which the new Jewish ideology is being built up, so has the emancipation, in the very process of rendering obsolete the traditional Jewish way of life, been providing the means of achieving a new Jewish way of life for the future.

The forces which the emancipation has released have not been uniform in their destructive effect on Judaism. Some of them have rendered superfluous, some have undermined, and some have actually disrupted the Jewish way

-179-

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