What kind of Jew are you? – comment – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on February 21, 2021

What kind of Jew are you?Ask the question these days, and people are likely to answer it in one of three or four ways. They may tell you, for example, that they are religious Jews or secular Jews, making observance the focal point of their identity. Or they may apply politics as a yardstick instead, saying theyre conservative or liberal Jews. Some may self-identify as Zionists or anti-Zionists, and some as Reform or Conservative or Reconstructionist Jews. These answers all have one thing in common: Theyre all terrible.What, for example, can we learn about a person who tells you theyre secular? We could assume, of course, that he or she doesnt observe Shabbat and might not adhere to the laws of kashrut, but other than that, the definition tells us almost nothing about the human being in question. Even worse, because were so used to thinking in categories, weve grown accustomed to seeing ourselves and our community through these lenses, making assumptions and forming affiliations based on ideas and notions that are, at best, wildly inaccurate. We need to do better. We need new categories that faithfully reflect the way American Jewish life is actually lived. Luckily for us, theres only one such category: learning Jews.Who among us isnt learning? For some of us, this means engaging with Daf Yomi, the practice of studying just one page of Talmud a day. For some, this means reading a book or listening to a podcast. For others, it could mean signing up for a class at the local JCC or watching a show on Netflix or even just getting together with friends to talk about small frustrations and big ideas. We shouldnt dismiss any of these activities as banal. Seen correctly, they form the foundation of Jewish life, a foundation that invites each of us to build on it further. This is why, traditionally, the greatest compliment you could pay a fellow Jew was to call them a talmid hacham an excellent student not necessarily a genius who already knows everything, but a committed, lifelong pupil who is constantly eager to grow and know more, and is willing to adapt and change.

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What kind of Jew are you? - comment - The Jerusalem Post

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