/ articles for review

‘We Do the Jewish Past a Disservice When We Make it Holier Than the Present’

SHI-North America President Yehuda Kurtzer discusses Jewish life outside Israel with Jewish Journal columnist Shmuel Rosner

(Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal, Dec. 20, 2011)
SHI-North America President Yehuda Kurtzer answered a number of penetrating questions on Jewish life in a lengthy Q&A session with Shmuel Rosner, author of the Rosner’s Domain column in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal:
Rosner: “Our tradition is riddled with a kind of theological pluralism” – yes. But your portrayal of open-border Judaism as the golden standard for traditional Judaism isn’t exactly a fair description of most Diasporic Jewish communities, is it?
Kurtzer: If by “gold standard” you mean the best of what we can and should be aspiring for, then yes, absolutely! Diaspora has long been a creative breeding ground for Jews to test out the good kind of assimilation in practice, the kind that absorbs the best of the world of non-native ideas and makes Judaism better as a result. And the reality is that Jewish communities are moving in the direction of open-borders especially in the Diaspora – more on Israel later – with growing trends around embracing interfaith families into Jewish life, a wider recognition of the need for bigger and wider tents of Jewish ideas and commitments, and more and more institutions premised on pluralism as both an ideal methodology and as an aspirational vision. Now, turning pluralism into reality is both philosophically and practically complex. After all, being part of a Jewish community should mean something, and there should be boundaries as part of any belonging – otherwise belonging is somewhat insignificant. But I would rather invest in a serious engagement with the content and consequences of belonging than a fixation with the enforcement of what keeps people in or out.
Click here to read the complete interview.

You care about Israel, peoplehood, and vibrant, ethical Jewish communities. We do too.

Join our email list for more Hartman ideas

Join our email list


The End of Policy Substance in Israel Politics