Where does the line of religious versus traditionalist begin and end?
The secular Jews who honor tradition are perhaps doing what a religious Jews does, but the intent behind it is quite different.
Life cycle events and festivals may or may not be performed by both. Yet the intent that defines religious versus secular is the reason behind the act. This is the common thread. Doing. Being a Jew is about doing.
Jewishness and Judaism simultaneously are characterized by doing, not belief.
Israel seems to grasp this concept fluently. A Jew is a Jew and many Jews are Masorti. This is defined as: “The self-appellation of traditional, not strictly observant Jews in Israel, who mostly identify with Orthodox Judaism.”
I met a Jew who lays tefilin. He claims he is not religious, yet does it to honor tradition. I had a professor in my Judaic Studies department who was an observant Jew, yet was an atheist. He said the Shema three times a day, kept kosher, wore a kippah and observed Shabbat. He said he did it out of respect to honor his ancestors.
We know that Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. Yet what is Jewishness?
Jewishness is everything else contained both outside and inside Judaism.
Jewishness comes from our Hebrew origin.
Jewishness comes from the people of Judea.
Jewishness comes from what we do in our culture.
Jewishness is not a belief.
Jewishness is DNA.
Jewishness is particular food, our unique comedic humor, Jewish literature, Jewish art and music.
Jewishness is ethics and life long learning.
Judaism suffers from homogenous thought patterns: Namely that Ashkenazi Orthodoxy is the normative Judaism and all else is either an Arabic aberration (Mizrahi, Masoretic, Sephardi) or other (Kenyan, Karaite, Shomronite/Samaritan). -Brent Tollman
The difference between the diaspora and Israel is this: Trying to be Jewish versus being a Jew.
Not all Jews practice Judaism, but all Jews are Jewish.
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