On Jewish survival

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 93
From: Mail.Liberal-Judaism
Subject: Re: Jewish Survival


On Jewish survival and/or the survival of particular movements of Judaism:

The vehicle for Jewish survival has been a refusal to assimilate to the local
culture. Perhaps the earliest example was "the lost ten tribes". Most agree
that they were merely assimilated into the culture which conquered them. The
remaining two tribes maintained their identity in Babylon, so much so that the
center of Jewish culture actually moved from Palestine/Canaan/Israel/Judah to
Babylon.

Over the centuries, there have been many branches in Judaism. Only history
shows whether the movements have staying power. Today there are four major
branches and many minor branches. To the extent we observe: "ve-shi-nan-tam
le-va-ne-cha" [teach (the tradition) diligently to your offspring], the
branches survive and sometimes even grow.

Branches of Judaism that didn't make it in the long term include Karaism and
Ethical Culture. Other than Orthodoxy, Reform (ca. 200 years old) is the
oldest of the movements. Put in perspective with Orthodoxy (i.e.
Rabbinic/Talmudic Judaism), all other branches are too young to know if they
will have the staying power [and I say that as an intensely committed Reform
Jew].

To survive requires teaching to the next generation and a belief that what we
are teaching, whether it be O, C or R, is correct. If one demonstrates
ambivalence in teaching, the next generation picks it up kal va-ho-mer (even
more so).