Thursday, July 01, 2004

Three Models of Jewishness

As part of some upcoming posts, I would like to introduce a rough model of the major way in which Jewishness has been expressed in the post-Enlightenment era. Although, as noted by Eugene Borowitz among others, the main feature of Judaism since the enlightenment is the personal autonomy, in practice Jewishness has tended to express itself in three ways. I am not suggesting that these models are completely separate or that they do not mix for most people; rather these are tools to discuss Jewishness:

1) Jewishness as a Religion: However one defines religion (be it Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Mosaic, Chavurah, Kabbalah, etc.).

2) Jewishness as a People: This expresses itself through kinship with other Jews, caring for other Jews, & through Jewish movements (e.g. Zionism, Federation-ism, Historical Judaism, the Yada Blog).

3) Jewishness as Culture: In this model, adopted by many of the Yiddishists, Israelists, Judaism is less about religion, or people, but a culture in which one can express oneself.

Over the next week, I will be using these models a bit & playing around with their implications.

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