UTJ – A Denomination, or a Post-Denominational Movement

Union for Traditional Judaism.

I was fascinated in my reading of the recent special report in The Economist about the growing movement toward post-denominational Judaism. For those of our faith who are moving past institutional distinctions, it’s not about whether you’re Haredi, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist, but whether you’re on the path of Teshuvah.

My first exposure to this approach came through Chabad in Beijing, and radio personality Denis Prager also openly practices a trans-Denominational form of Judaism, incorporating the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements in his life.

But there are more sparks of the movement, and one of them is the Union of Traditional Judaism, a group whose beliefs fall between Conservative and Modern Orthodox articles of faith. The group seems interesting, but I wonder whether it is trying to hew a road between Orthodox and Conservative, or genuinely attempting to transcend such distinctions. I sincerely hope it is the latter.

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Enriching the Haskalah

A Reform synagogue with mixed seating and equa...

Image via Wikipedia

While the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment movement, probaly saved millions of Jews from total assimilation, in its rejection of the Oral Law and much tradition as well as practice, did it not deny generations of Reform jews all knowledge of the richness of their legacy?

What I must wonder is how many we lost because of a shallow understanding of Judaism, and an ignorance of the true depths of its heritage.

Is it not time to consider turning the tide, to consider bringing to Reform and Conservative Jews a greater exposure to the parts of their heritage arbitrarily cast aside a century and a half ago?