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אנחנו היהדות

We Are Judaism

כפי שהמאבק על הדמוקרטיה החזיר לעצמו את דגל ישראל הנישא בגאון, כך ראוי שנחזיר את עצם הגדרת "היהדות"  למקומה הנכון, מזהות דתית - אורתודוקסית ולאומנית החוטאת לזהותם של רוב היהודים במדינת היהודים ובתפוצות, לזהות אוהבת אדם, דינאמית ומכילה.


​בדפים אלו נתייחס לשאלות ולאקטואליה מתוך אותה זווית  יהודית, חילונית, ליברלית, הומניסטית ומכילה - כך נאיר את  "היהדות" בנתיבה הטבעי, ההולם את מיטב נכסי המורשת ותרבותנו העשירה.

מאחר ורבים מנסים לאפיין את מהות היהדות החילונית וערכיה, מומחי מכון הגות יאספו כאן שאלות נפוצות שנשאלנו וננסה לענות עליהן בקצרה

  • Why is reappropriation of the Jewish identity critical to the survival of the State of Israel?
    Zionism is threatened by the fusion of messianic, nationalist, and ultra-Orthodox forces that are playing on an empty identity field. The religious orthodoxy has caused the alienation of secular Jews from their cultural heritage, which further exacerbates the process of polarization. Zionism, built by the Jewish Enlightenment movement, was founded on values of wisdom and faith in humanity, and saw democracy as a natural Jewish interest. The founders envisioned it this way, and so they formulated the Declaration of Independence. The minority of messianic, nationalist, and ultra-Orthodox groups, who believe in Jewish supremacy and/or a theocratic state, is leading Israel down a path that undermines its fundamental values and destroys it. We must rise to the challenge, not be passive, take back our Judaism, and block the cycle of alienation and polarization.
  • In what do Humanist - secularists believe?
    Secular Humanists are people who believe - in man. Secular Humanists believe in man, nature and the communal good The roots of secularism in the monotheistic and rationalistic views of medieval religions - which shifted the attention to man and his intellect, instead of the authority of the mediating religious establishment. In different ways - the concept of God has been interpreted in the philosophical field of truth as existing or "whole" beyond human imperfection. In fact, views in this spirit are also prominent in Islam, also in Christian-Protestant currents, and of course in the spirit of the prophets of Israel - mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Therefore, the concept of "God" is not foreign to the secular - and it can even be said that thanks to monotheism, educated and secular beliefs have developed. Today's secular currents - in the West - are a continuation of educational movements in past cultures. The Muslim Enlightenment and the Enlightenment of Europe whose Jewish version was called the "Enlightenment Movement". Secular views are based on the assumption that each person creates his own culture and is at least influenced by it and sometimes also by other cultures. Secularists believe that Judaism is also a rich and multifaceted culture. Like every culture, Judaism is also special and therefore the secular ideas that have developed in the Jewish world - are Jewish. Just as French secularism is French. Nature in a secular world Secular morality The cultural action that includes stories, songs, dialogue and symbolic representations of all this (rituals for example) shapes "good" that is apparently relative to that community, but a humanistic view at the foundation of secularism balances this relativity with recognition of the universal dimension of man. The concepts "nature" or "man" (that is, "truth" or "whole morality") are nothing but concepts of a complete horizon - universal and sublime, to which man strives, but in view of the imperfection of the human mind, one should not expect that someone has all the truth in his pocket. This is the basis for the skepticism that accompanies the secular view, and hence also for measured pluralism, according to which it is appropriate to listen to someone different from me, and it is precisely the dialogue that enables progress towards the truth on the horizon. Secular views assume that man can know something, therefore may recognize the better action, regardless of worship or external authority imposing it on him. An attitude in this spirit was expressed by the author of the story of Cain and Abel - when God himself says to Cain: "Woe to you if you do good and if you do not do good you will open the sin of slavery and you will be tempted by him" (Genesis 4:7), that is, even if you excel in worship (you do good ) is not it Related to your ability, and inner necessity to "govern" your sins. Prominent thinkers such as Aristotle in his time, or Zambatista Vico and many after them in modern times emphasized the importance of the social-cultural context - through which man knows the world and shapes his path and values, but also being a man - is given meaning in every local culture. This is the essence of the tension between the local culture, and between the universal human values that accompanies every modern secular community. in the west at least. It is important to remember that every universal value requires some local culture to speak it. Tell it her way.
  • What distinguishes the humanist seculars who are Jewish?
    Jewish secularists, who are part of the broader Jewish community, draw from the rich traditions of Judaism that contributed to their education and secularization. Notable thinkers such as Rambam, Spinoza, Shlomo Maimon, Nachman Krochmal, and others played a significant role in shaping the spiritual outlook of the Enlightenment movement and Jewish secularism. These intellectuals collaborated with prominent thinkers from Greek philosophy, the Muslim Enlightenment, and the broader Enlightenment movement. Through these influential thinkers, the best of Jewish thought was reinterpreted for modernity, often adopting a liberal-spiritual or cultural nationalist perspective (considered religious in the US context). Many secular thinkers and cultural innovators view themselves as continuing the central Jewish path of reason and morality, finding inspiration in the Israeli tradition.
  • Morality without God - who decides what is moral?
    A Humanist - secular approach assumes that man is rational - that is, he can strive for the truth and shape goodness and morality in his community. Secular views were born in connection with rationalist approaches that assume intelligence in the world and in man. From this it is possible to think that morality is a conclusion or a general goal that the person can strive for with his own mind, according to his reason. It is important to say that such morality is still sublime from man, but is always open to progress, unlike approaches that favor fate, predestination or external revelation. And this is just the beginning.
  • Will each person determine his own morality?
    Morality is relevant only in a social context - there it is also shaped. It is possible to distinguish between morality as a rational assumption (this is the sublime morality, or the supreme "good") which is laid down by humans who strive for such morality, and between different and unique community norms, which are sometimes called separately as "ethics" (which is related to "ethos") - which is linked in the unique stories of each culture. Every culture tells its own unique stories. But it is also possible, especially since the Age of Enlightenment - that the stories also include a general human dimension (an open ethos) from which it is implied that we could just as well have been born into another culture.
  • What makes the Jews a people?
    "People" is a variable concept. Most of the time, we project its current meaning into the past. Before the modern era a person was born into a kingdom, tribe or tribe that had its own laws and so died. The consolidation of the modern nations in Europe on the basis of a common culture left the Jews in front of them as a people with unique characteristics. The choice to see the Jews as a people is not the property of all Jews - but of those who feel this way - mostly in relation to the state past of Judah and Israel, as well as the Jewish sectarian reality in the Diaspora. Many Jews chose Judaism as a religion, which integrates into the lives of other peoples.
  • Why do we need Judaism detached from religion? We have universal humanist values.
    Universal concepts are inherently shaped by the cultural, linguistic, and historical context in which they emerge. The notion of universal values is rooted in the initial expression of these values within a specific community or culture. In other words, there would be no universal values without the local culture that gave rise to them. Similarly, the concept of secularism, which is grounded in humanistic principles, relies on its foundation and may not be fully comprehended without considering the cultural, historical, and linguistic context from which it arose. Click here for an extended answer.
  • Enlightenment vs. Cultural Heritage: Can Reason Coexist with Tradition?
    Similar to the Copernican revolution's paradigm shift in our understanding of the earth and sun, the Enlightenment revolutionized humanity's relationship with itself, transforming from being a subject to a creator. As Immanuel Kant famously declared in 1784, "Dare to know" - emphasizing the importance of individual autonomy and critical thinking. This shift in perspective led to a new understanding of human nature, where every person is considered to possess similar cognitive abilities - thus, we are all equals as persons. We establish our own knowledge and moral frameworks, rather than passively accepting external authority. However, some Enlightenment thinkers may have adopted a narrow approach, viewing humanity solely through the lens of reason and universality. This perspective might suggest that individual language, culture, and heritage only serve to hinder this unity, implying that we should strive for a uniform human experience. In contrast, an alternative approach, which we can refer to as "full Enlightenment" or "counter-Enlightenment," posits that the human spirit, including its universal values, is shaped by and conditioned by our respective cultures. This perspective recognizes the importance of cultural diversity and historical context in shaping our understanding of humanity.
  • What makes you Jewish if you have no faith in God?
    A common misconception is that Jews universally share a single understanding of God. However, a brief examination of Jewish history as recorded in the Bible reveals that we have had multiple conceptions of deity. For instance, mystics and rationalists like Rambam have interpreted the term "God" in contradictory ways. This diversity has led to the possibility that even secular individuals can consider the concept of God without necessarily adhering to traditional religious beliefs. Secular Jews have incorporated the notion of God into their worldview through various means. For example, God as a literary figure is often featured in Hebrew poetry and literature. The philosophical underpinnings of Jewish 'Haskalah' also contributed to the development of secularism. Moreover, some secular individuals may view God as a personal, watchful entity that influences their daily lives. On the other hand, secularists reject certain conceptions of God due to their perceived limitations. They argue that a God who communicates through intermediaries (rabbis) undermines human intellect and freedom. Similarly, a God who disrupts natural order through miracles contradicts his own philosophical validity, such as his unity and immateriality. Furthermore, a God who demands public worship, rigid agendas, and rejection of foreign peoples does not align with the modesty required of an abstract, universal concept of values. In the ongoing tension between orthodoxy and secularism, the concept of God is often seen as a binary opposition. However, the reality is more nuanced, and some might argue that a view that does not directly rely on the concept of God but instead prioritizes truth, education, freedom, and equality - in its own way - respects one of the pure possibilities of the content of this concept.
  • Should liberals allow gender segregation in public space?
    Gender separation, for the purpose of physiological differences, is an acceptable and reasonable matter because it does not impair the belief in the common human essence. But a separation that is not necessary for a physiological reason may imply an undermining of faith in man! The "free" world or the "open" society are misleading concepts. These are companies that believe in human reason, and hence also in his responsibility to his creatures. or her creations. Click here for an extended answer.
  • What distinguishes Secular - Humanist Jews as Jewish, given that they do not adhere to religious commandments or beliefs?
    For us "Judaism" is culture. Within it are many possible affinities such as language, country, shared past, shared stories, and also religious affinities in general. This "committed" is in the religious field. Secularists consider what is appropriate. "Mitzvot" may be a name for any moral or ethical action that any member of a culture observes. If you mean an external set of mitzvot as a ladder to "Judaism" - most Jews in the world are not in this narrow field.
  • What is the difference between a secular Jew and a Gentile?
    A secular Jew is inherently Jewish, rooted in the culture; 'gentile' refers to someone who doesn't share this cultural heritage (originally meaning 'people', now implying membership in another group). The question's phrasing is as misguided as asking what sets an Orthodox person apart from a fascist...
  • Does secularism = emptiness?
    Secularism is not an "empty" tool and secularism is not instrumental. It is a rich culture, full of faith, and a leader in its works, which inherits the best foundations of thought of the past cultures and elevates them to the best topical and open expression for the transformations of the present. Click here for an extended answer.
  • Do the secularists necessarily turn their backs on Jewish tradition?
    In reality, the secular Zionist movement did not abandon Jewish heritage, but rather sought to liberate it from its Orthodox shackles and infuse it with reason, freedom, and equality - values that have long been synonymous with God in Jewish thought. This autonomy was rooted in the innovative spirit of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Rambam's intellectual boldness, and the Enlightenment thinkers who transformed Jewish consciousness in the Diaspora and the Land of Israel.
  • What does the term 'Hiloni' (secular) mean? Does it imply that secular individuals are solely concerned with worldly affairs, neglecting spiritual or transcendent aspects of life?
    On the contrary, according to Onkelus' translation, the term 'Hiloni' equates "foreigner" and refers specifically to an individual who is not a 'Cohen' - priest (Leviticus 22:10), meaning someone outside the lineage of Aaron and his priestly descendants. This interpretation suggests that this term could apply to those within the larger Jewish community who are not part of the priestly family. Perhaps this understanding influenced thinkers like Bialik, who may have seen secular individuals as successors to Moses' legacy.In this sense, seculars can be viewed as the dominant current within the Jewish people - a continuation of the original spiritual and philosophical currents inspired by Moses.
  • What is your attitude towards the bible?
    The term 'Bible' emerged with secular education, acknowledging the collective efforts of human writers who crafted timeless texts The Haskalah movement renewed Bible studies alongside Hebrew language study (as opposed to the memorization of the Gemara in the diasporic rabbinic culture). Israeli Seculars' 11-year study of the Bible underscores its significance, as secular Hebrew culture is richly influenced by biblical themes and motifs.
  • What is your attitude to sages (Hazal) literature?
    This vast corpus of Jewish literature, a treasured cultural heritage, predominantly stems from the Hellenistic era; in contrast to Orthodox tradition, Zionist education prioritized a national and cultural approach to Israel's entire canon - limiting Talmud instruction in schools. However, an open, secular approach can uncover a wealth of content, values, and literary beauty within the books of Sages.
  • With a denial of your past culture, how will you build a future?
    Secular Jews are at the forefront of research about the Jewish past, the history of the Land of Israel, the Bible, literature, etc. With the spread of the orthodox narrative, which appropriates "Judaism" for itself, a cycle of self-sustaining alienation has grown - as secularists mistakenly identify their heritage as a deviation from the values of the Enlightenment. This is exactly why we must illuminate the values of education and democracy as they are - as a natural development of Israeli culture.

פרסומי מכון הגות בנושאי היהדות החילונית

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