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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
Jewish Identity


  1. Mar 2005 Digest 042

    [RE]:…the subject of “What kind of Jew are you?”:
    I am not partial to being categorized. I like to think I am an independent in terms of social and political affiliation. Thus, when I am asked what type of Jew I am, I typically respond “independent and observant”. I recently decided that such an answer was pretentious and my new answer is “unorthodox”. For me, that works better than reform, liberal, or progressive. Yes, I am an Unorthodox Jew. Of course, the Union of Unorthodox Judaism is not particularly euphonious, but you can’t have everything.

  2. Mar 2005 Digest 042

    If I were going to categorize myself, I would probably say that I am an observant, liberal, reform/progressive Jew.
    332+ Households

  3. Mar 2005 Digest 042

    When I am asked, I usually tell people I'm Jewish (period!) If the conversation ensues, I will then say I'm affiliated with the Reform Movement.

    With wisdom (some) and age, I have begun to feel that the demarcations of denomination are more political than anything. If I start out saying I am Reform, that conjures up a set of expectations or even stereotypes that I'm not sure applies to me personally or a lot of people I know. I also find that although different denominations practice Judaism in different ways, the emphasis on which movement one belongs to divides Jews rather than unites them (depending on whom one is talking to I suppose). There is also a bit of “one up man ship” sometimes amongst clergy as well as individuals when it comes to qualifications or beliefs within and between the denominations.


  4. Mar 2005 Digest 042

    …recently, the Jewish community here…hosted Rabbi Arthur Green (ordained Reconstructionist, long-time Kabala scholar), with lectures all weekend at our Reform temple, at the Conservative synagogue, and at homes. Both congregations worshiped and studied together for this special weekend. At one point, Rabbi Green commented that when he is asked, "What kind of a Jew are you? Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstuctionist, etc.," he replies, "All of the above." Some poignancy for our discussion on this.

  5. Mar 2005 Digest 043

    While I like the notion of a name that wraps all the movements together, I also know enough people who would oppose the "Reconservadoxionist" label…

    I was happy to see Tony's comment on our history [see topic Reform Religious Observance], but also a bit saddened. Tony makes a critical point that many of us assume, but I'm not sure how many of us have seriously considered. Those of us who are "in the know" and probably among the leaders of our congregations are aware of at least some of the history and complexity of our movement. It isn't just "not Orthodox", as many of us have demonstrated here over the years. Even so, our members now lack a solid base in the historical reasons for our being this way. This is especially true as we change our stances and alter minhag, becoming now much more aware of the value of traditional forms.

    So I wonder how many of us have good knowledge of Reform history. But even more, how many of our friends and neighbors have any awareness of Kaufmann Kohler, and David Einhorn, etc.

    It's not just where we are now. How we got here also matters.


  6. Mar 2005 Digest 043

    After being told by co-congregants and co-committee members and co-learners that I, and other Reform Jews, are "not religious" as only members of the traditionally observant community are "religious," I have taken to calling myself a "Religious Jew." Even when this isn't being said directly, it is true that when someone says "Religious Jew" so many of us think only of the Orthodox or Hasidic.

  7. Mar 2005 Digest 044

    …[The March 4, 2005/23 Adar I 5765 article “The Eyes Have It” by Neil Rubin] posted on Ten Minutes of Torah []…is] relevant to the piece of the stream of discussion regarding level of observance and what do we call ourselves.

  8. Mar 2005 Digest 044

    I believe it is Rabbi David Hartman who divides Jews into two categories--those who are serious about their Judaism and those who are not. Clearly everyone on this list falls into the serious category. By and large, we know who we are, so why worry about characterizing it to others? Among my watchwords: You wouldn't worry so much what people think about you if you recognized how seldom they do...

    Differences between movements in ideology is a matter of concern primarily to rabbis, and perhaps to some of the "serious Jews" who frequent list-servs like this one.

    Like many of the previous posters on the subject, I too don't like the word Reform, although it's better than Reformed. I far prefer Progressive, as used in much of the world outside North America. It doesn't matter, though--it's another word along with pastor and gay which doesn't mean any more what it used to. Consider the number of years it took the Reform Movement to change the name of its synagogue organization from Union of American Hebrew Congregations to Union for Reform Judaism--a recognition of a branding reality. (In branding, you are not what you say you are, you are what people think you are.) Calling ourselves Reform has nothing to do today with correcting something (although it may have 200 years ago). It's the accepted way to say that we are the movement on the left.



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