In this powerful book one of the most important contemporary Jewish thinkers grapples with issues that increasingly divide Israel’s secular Jewish community from its religious Zionists. Deeply committed to religious pluralism, David Hartman offers a new understanding of what it means to be Jewish–one that enables different Jewish groups to celebrate their own traditions without demonizing or patronizing others.
“Faced with the profound contemporary polarization between secular and religious in Israel…Hartman goes a step farther and will ruffle many religious feathers in arguing for the “demythologization” of the Jewish people, for an abandonment of the “narcissistic frame of mind in which the reality of God revolves exclusively around my people’s history, my rituals and my traditions.” In seeking a paradigm for this open-ended approach, Hartman turns to the two great medieval Jewish philosophers: Maimonides and Rabbi Judah Halevi. … Judaism, he says, is a text-based interpretive tradition, and secular Jews can reenter the interpretive conversation without committing themselves to halakic observance. Much of what Hartman says will be controversial, but he offers a serious proposal for reimagining Judaism in the modern, secularist world.״