Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

American Jews: Impaled on the horns of a dilemma?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/07/american-jews-impaled-on-horns-of.html

Yair Sheleg writes that the dilemma of American Jews is a conflict between liberal values and Jewish identity. Jews cannot oppose mixed marriages for example, because this would conflict with liberal values. Jews cannot accept US government support for Jewish education, because it would threaten separation of Church and state.
 
But the reality is that opposition to mixed marriages would not do any good, because people who have decided on a mixed marriage have often already declared their choice. They have put themselves outside the voluntary coercive framework of "institutional" Judaism and they will not be influenced by the institutional version of the irate old country patriarch, any more than the daughter of Tevye the Milkman was deterred from marrying a Russian. Sometimes, if their mate becomes Jewish, there is no conflict with Jewish identity, but that is a personal decision that is beyond the scope of Jewish instiutions and beyond their control. Sheleg's proposal is like saying that Jewish institutions are conflicted about whether or not to control the weather or stop aging. They can't do much about either, so there is no real dilemma.
 
The real dilemmas of American Jews are elsewhere. In the first place, they each have to decide if they want to remain Jews or not and balance all the advantages and disadvantages of the decision to accept their cultural, national and religious heritage as they see fit. 
 
No community can make that decision. In America this is a matter of conscience that is up to the individual. If an individual decides that remaining Jewish is important, then they will find a way to include this in their personal choices. But if being Jewish only consists of eating bagels and lox and making bad jokes in corrupted Yiddish, there is no chance that many will give up the complete American dream or the mate of their dreams in order to be Jewish. Likewise, if being Jewish consists of wearing a fur hat in summer and poring over ancient law books in Aramaic, that isn't going to attract many American Jews. Are any of these attributes essential for Judaism? Did Moses wear a shtraymel? Did King David know the Talmud and the Sulkhan Aruch?  Did Jacob eat bagels and speak Yiddish? The essentials of Judaism are social ethics, monotheism in religion, and attachment to Israel. Bagels, kippot and all the other trappings were added at a later date, or are added to remind Jews of the important issues,  and they are incidental.  
 
The second dilemma is that of the Jewish community. They have to decide whether they are going to continue traditions and approaches that failed to stop assimilation in 19th century Europe and are totally anachronistic in the twenty-first century, or whether they are going to adapt to a new reality and provide individuals with an attractive vision of Jewish life and ethics, and an attractive path to Judaism. The former policy will ensure that more and more individuals will choose assimilation. "Stay Jewish or else!" is not going to work. The latter policy will help ensure the continuation of Jewish life in the United States and Canada.  It is between control, hypocrisy and obscurantism on the one hand, and positive adaptation on the other, and it is a no - brainer, not a real dilemma.
 
The Book of Ruth  tells the story of how Ruth the Moabite became part of Israel and the Jewish people. The book of Ezra and Nehemiah on the other hand, declares that Moab and Amalek cannot be part of Israel and enjoin the Jews to divorce their foreign wives. So there are at least two traditions in Judaism about intermarriage - going back over two thousand years, and not one "hallowed" tradition, as some would have you believe.
 
The real dilemma of American Jewish leadership is between the book of Ruth and the book of Ezra and Nehemiah. There can't be a conflict between liberal values and Jewish identity, because "Jewish identity" is meaningless if it is not a free personal choice, and if it is not liberal, it is not Judaism.
 
Ami Isseroff

Labels: ,


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/07/american-jews-impaled-on-horns-of.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment



<< Home


FREE EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to
ZNN
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by groups.yahoo.com


Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israpundit
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Z-Word
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
UN-Biased
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Zionism
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
Liberticracia
CNPublications
SEO

Reference
Zionism
Anti-Semitism
Anti-Zionism
Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Bible
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Islamism
Jihad
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Israel
Jew
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism
Russian

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Experimental
Isfake lobby
Mysterology

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products
Mezuzah

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory