Saturday, November 19, 2005

Our Valuable Judaism

"I mean Jewish life was always meant to be in Israel. I look at Judaism as a national culture, not a religion per se. And a national culture should have a national home land. It really doesn't make sense to have a separate Jewish law in this modern day and age. I think it made sense when the Jewish people didn't have a home land. Wow, I'm sounding like a Zionist! I never really thought of myself as a Zionist. I know you disagree, and I would be interested to hear why"

I think there is more to Judaism than just a national culture, though it is that. I know it sounds corny, but it is a way of life and gives each Jew a sense, if they're so inclined, of history and peoplehood and connectance and tradition that transcends anything else of impermanence that is our modern world. One could make the argument that the land of Israel is the only "proper" place for Judaism, but I think that Israel is really just a base of operations for Jewish activities abroad. It is important and it is of immeasurable value that any Jew can call it home, but there is greater strength in Judaism and Jewish communities elsewhere that give testament through their staying power even in the most adverse conditions.

I think it has incredible power that a person can live in America, be an American citizen and so on and at the same time be a Jew. We Jews are world travelers and we have the freedom to settle anywhere and still retain our sense of identity without being coddled in the womb of a single state. Yes, you could call it a "national culture" but it's really more of a peoplehood identity program that is not restricted to mere physical boundaries.

In some ways it does restrict us, but really it frees us. You as an individual can go anywhere and do whatever you want, but you will get lost in the river of history and will be an orphan to time. As a Jew you retain a sense of self that nothing in the world can take away. And while your great great grandchildren may not know who you are, they may not even know your name, they'll still be able to know you in some sense as their family's history becomes their community's history and eventually their people's history. It is this connectance to something larger than mere individuals that is of real value.

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