Judaism in the Secular Age: Essays on Fellowship, Community and Freedom

Judaism in the Secular Age: Essays on Fellowship, Community and Freedom

Judaism in the Secular Age: Essays on Fellowship, Community and Freedom

Judaism in the Secular Age: Essays on Fellowship, Community and Freedom

Excerpt

In these essays, I have continued the reflections begun in Fellowship in Judaism: The First Century and Today and History and Torah: Essays on Jewish Learning, reflections about what it means to be a Jew in the modern world and in the Western Diaspora. My thought concerns Jews of the Golah as a whole, and all the essays except for "Agenda for Conservative Judaism" seem to me relevant to the concerns not only of United States and Canadian Jewry, but also of the communities of Latin America, Western Europe, and the United Kingdom, though with obvious modulations. In the first paper, I offer an interpretation of the modern history of Judaism -- not of the Jews -- and an effort to evaluate the implications of that history. The second pursues the theme earlier introduced, namely, the meaning and challenge of secularity for both Judaism and Christianity. The third and fourth sections contain statements on how I believe that challenge may be best met, namely, both through the formation of havurot, or fellowships, of serious and faithful Jews, and through the reformation of the larger Jewish community.

I am more optimistic that the fellowships will prove meaningful to many Jews than that such a community reformation is possible. Indeed, I find that the so-called "Jewish community," i.e., the organisational and institutional activity labelled Jewish, is mostly irrelevant to Judaism, having few particularly important implications for the faith and practice of the Jewish religion today. It may be possible, however, for the several religious movements to make a contribution to the reform of Jewries in the West. In the last paper of this group, I have therefore addressed myself to the potential contribution to be made by Conservative Judaism, to which I adhere. It seems, however, that before religious movements . . .

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