Friday, April 01, 2005

Action Judaism

I know it's late, but I've just been struck by inspiration and before I chuck it in my mind as unfeasible or impossible I'm going to say it here and get the idea out there for others to mull over.

Whereas Judaism as a beneficial meme is in severe trouble in the modern world; and

Whereas some belief in the Jewish theology but without traditional activity in the customs has proven untenable after a few short generation as seen in the Conservative and especially Reform movements; and

Whereas the only available alternatives is to enter the Orthodox world in order to have a sustainable culture; and

Whereas there are many among the Orthodox who have severe doubts to what they have been led to believe and yet cannot feel that they can freely express their thoughts; and

Whereas the future of some continuous Jewish traditions and Jewish life are important to many Jews; and

Whereas excessive splitting into sects among the Jewish people is unlikely to be maintainable in the long term because the worldwide Jewish population is rather small and division weakens us;

A new sustainable non-Orthodox form must be created. I suggest a novel form of Judaism that can be an umbrella for the many disparate forms and may be acceptable to most or all. This would be an act-based Judaism. Total prax, no dox necessary. No dogmas, no fear of science, no dedicated beliefs, no heresy.

I introduce Action Judaism (tentative name only). The movement would support the continuation of traditional customs and practices, though perhaps with a few notable exceptions - details to be worked on later (perhaps a basic suggested prax that would be the minimum but allow other stricter forms for whatever the people feel most comfortable), but would claim no authority on metaphysical truths. Each individual can be free to speculate and theorize without fear of consequence. It would be supportive of bringing estranged Jews back into this sustainable Judaism. The focus is on bringing Jews back to Judaism but without forcing any necessary stories that they would need to accept.

How’s that sound?


Enigma4U said...

My first reaction was to dismiss your ideas as fanciful pipe dreams, but on deeper reflection, I realized that history has shown us that many catalysts for successful reform movements were started by ideas that seemed unrealistic at the time. So sign me up, please.

Orthoprax said...

If we build it, they will come.

Anonymous said...

The same day you posted this, I had a similar idea. I was going to call it Reconstructionist Orthodox. However, as the name implies, my version has some dox too, which means that unfortunately I am unable to recognize Action Judaism as legitimate. Sorry : ^ )

DNA said...

I had the idea many moon ago, but there are a few problems:

1) These are Jews you're talking about. Everyone will want to do something different. Without a core belief you'll never get everyone to agree on drawing the line in a certain place. (i.e. okay, no cheesesteaks because that's bibilical (ahem, according to the rabbis) I'll serve cheesechicken, which is only rabbinically prohibited. That good with you Rabbi?)

2) It will be even emptier than the Conservative movement. You'll never get a critical mass to follow such strict rules with such a hollow ideology. It's not a bad idea for us orthodox heretics, but, hopefully, our kids will laugh at it. When some youngin wants to marry a shikseh are you going to answer, "Well, there's no good reason. We've just all agreed to follow certain guidelines."

BTW, Halivni seems to be not that far off from your model. Sure, he tries to justify tradition as he can, but it's really not that far away.

Orthoprax said...


The common goal under which to unite everyone is the continuation of the Jewish people as a recognizable group.

Groups in a sea of melting pots need rules which set themselves off from the general population. That's how they remain distinct. Intermarriage would go directly against this ideology.

That is the ideology. Granted there are issues for what exactly the basic rules will be, but I think that's within reason. Maybe we'll form the United Jewish Senate to make decisions about that kind of thing.