Leonard Fein and Steven M. Cohen have written a masterful reply to Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s screed about the delusions of secular Jews. It is a must-read for anyone who has been involved in this conversation.
Yoffie complains that these allegedly faithless secular Jews continue to assemble in synagogues and to undertake acts of family life and communal celebration that are either explicitly religious or that radiate with the power of deep faith. Indeed, he may be drawing upon his familiarity with his own Reform movement. In the same survey we find that of those identifying as Reform, just 6 percent (6 percent!) see themselves as religious Jews “to a great extent.” Among the same Reform Jews three times as many (18 percent) see themselves as secular, and nearly seven times as many (41 percent) call themselves
Fein and Cohen (a leading Jewish demographer on the faculty of HUC-JIR) are much more polite than I was. For reasons that I won’t go into here, I hear Orthodox rabbis make similar claims all the time. So I was just shocked (really…not in an ironic Claude Rains-y way) to see it coming from Yoffie. Continue reading
I just returned from a (freezing) Chicago where I participated in the 2012 Colloquium of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (a lot of words, I know, but still shorter than my own alma mater, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion). It was masterfully put together by IISHJ’s North American Dean, Rabbi Adam Chalom, and hosted by Northwestern University.
The topic was “Half-Jews? The Heirs of Intermarriage” and it was fascinating from beginning to end. And I’m not just saying that as a partisan Humanistic Jew. The sessions went far beyond any particularistic point of view and took a very deep look at an entire generation of self-identifying Jews from mixed backgrounds. Continue reading
New York’s “The Jewish Week” has an article about Jews and God that presents a good short summary of some of the issues I write about frequently. Some of the statistics are fascinating, if not surprising:
The data [from the Public Religion Research Institute’s survey on American Jewish values, released this month] …showed that, while about 70 percent of Jews define themselves through a religious movement — Reform, Conservative or Orthodox — the other 30 percent see Judaism as more of a cultural identity, calling themselves “just Jewish.” And when asked whether Jews of any kind believed in God, 18 percent said they did not. (Forty percent said they believed in an “impersonal God,” while 26 percent said they believed in a God they saw as “a person with whom one can have a relationship.”)
That’s a whopping 58% of American Jews who are not traditionally theistic. Continue reading
Once again, thank you to all of you who sent me words of encouragement. I’m happy that this blog is of interest to so many people.
Now back to business!
One of the things that I really benefit from as a member of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis is the collegiality of wonderful colleagues like Tamara Kolton, rabbi of the Birmingham Temple in suburban Detroit. When Prof. Richard Dawkins was on his most recent book tour, he stopped there and, in addition to delivering his lecture, he found time to interview Rabbi Kolton. Continue reading
As you’re undoubtedly aware, most of the Republican candidates have been falling all over each other to prove that they’re bigger Zionists than Herzl. Support for Israel is undoubtedly the number one issue for most of the Jewish Republicans whom I know. They are convinced that Obama is dangerous for Israel.
So here comes Ron Paul, with his background of support for REAL antisemites, anti-Zionists and assorted racists, and what is the attitude of the Republican field? Both Santorum and Romney have said that if he does receive the nomination (as unlikely as that is) they would vote for him. Continue reading