The most recent chapter I have written was on Liberal Jewish Clubs. For those of you unfamiliar with the different branches of Judaism the best was I can describe it (although obviously lacking in some ways) is that Liberal Judaism is to Orthodox Judaism as Protestantism is to Catholicism. This has got me thinking about some ‘big questions’.
The club described itself as teaching ‘ethical monotheism’ which it wished to make into ‘Jewish ethical monotheism’. My ‘big thought’ is, where is the boundary between the two concepts. When does ‘ethical monotheism’ end and where does ‘Jewish ethical monotheism’ begin. Infact, can there be such a thing as Jewish ethical monotheism if there are no Jewish customs and traditions that go with the ethics. For example, can you call yourself ‘Jewish’ if you believe in the same ethical code as other Jews, but you don’t observe the Sabbath, you don’t commemorate Holy Days etc. Who decides what is an essential part of Judaism? Who decides who is or who isn’t Jewish? Can you be seen as Jewish if other people don’t think of you as such?
So many ‘big thoughts’ which are so different from the ones I usually have! I have taken a whole bunch of books out of the library with such fun titles as ‘being Jewish’, ‘on being Jewish’, and ‘Jewish Ethics’ and am hoping to be able to read my way to the answer. And if not THE answer (which is probably objective and not at all doable as a tiny part of a thesis), hopefully I will come up with AN answer which will work as part of my argument. Wish me luck!