web analytics
September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


You’re Jewish – But Do You Believe In God?

Front-Page-122013

Godless Judaism – an oxymoron if ever there was one – is the result, no doubt, of a complex amalgamation of factors: family background and influences, secular and religious education, environment, culture, intermarriage, outlook on Israel and world events, and living in a high-tech world. Religious extremists who perpetrate barbaric acts in the name of God may turn some people away from believing in God. And not only has modern culture contributed to a new morality that sometimes pokes fun at or denigrates religion, but for some – young people in particular – God competes with the distracting and enticing electronic wizardry of computers, cable television, satellite radio, video games, and smartphones that places the world at their fingertips.

Godless Judaism would seem by definition not to be a religion. In my view it comprises two basic groups of nonbelievers: Jews by birth whose only tie to Judaism is genetics, and those who follow some, many, or all of the customs and rituals of Judaism.

Jewish culture grew out of and survived as an adjunct to the monotheistic Jewish religion. The gene that Jewish nonbelievers pass down to future generations may be Jewish but the Jewish torch they hand off to those generations is sputtering, and over time that flame will subside. Culture Jews, ethnic Jews and Jews who claim no religion eventually will dwindle to an insignificant number and the Jewish people will be almost exclusively composed of small, hard-core groups of Jewish believers in God.

What is particularly sad is that today we have Jews voluntarily relinquishing their belief in a God-based religion when their forebears sacrificed their lives for it. Legions of Jews through the centuries were tortured or slaughtered for being Jewish or for not renouncing their faith or converting, yet we have multitudes of Jews today who eschew their religion of their own willful accord.

For thousands of years there has been a Jewish continuum not just of genes but of adherence to a belief in God-based Judaism – and now that continuum is being seriously threatened not by hatred or malignant force but through self-compliance by Jews themselves. Virulent hatred and murder of Jews could not stop Judaism through the millennia, but today intermarriage, apathy, and weak identification with Judaism foretell a disheartening fate.

Leaders of the various streams of the Jewish religion constantly attempt to devise ways to draw people. They come up with all sorts of innovations, some of which arguably violate halacha. But these are largely Band-Aids that address symptoms rather than the syndrome. If Judaism is rooted in God, then solutions should emanate from God-based concepts, which can be creative and inspiring and even fun.

Creation, Jewish history, Jewish laws, religious services, rituals, the Shema: Judaism has always revolved around God. Indeed, the foundation of Judaism is belief in God. Without that foundation, there can be no true Judaism.

About the Author: Harvey Rachlin is an award-winning author of thirteen books including “Lucy’s Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein’s Brain,” which was adapted for the long-running History Channel series “History’s Lost and Found.” He is also a lecturer at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “You’re Jewish – But Do You Believe In God?”

  1. I think you are oversimplifying it, Mr. Rachlin. An orthodox Jew must make three, not one, leaps of faith. The one you cover is the easiest to make: the belief in God. One must also believe that having created this wonderful universe, God still cares what is happening here. More difficult, but still easy. For why create a universe only to abandon it to its own devices. The third leap of faith is much more demanding: That the Torah we have is actually the word of God. That the commandments we have are given to us by God. I have met many people who accept the first two, but balk at the third leap of faith…

  2. Len Moskowitz says:

    Harvey Rachlin wrote:

    > According to halacha, anyone born of a Jewish mother is Jewish. Period.

    This is not quite correct.

    A valid court of national stature can revoke Jewish identity (k'dushat yisrael). Two examples are the Kutim (Samaritans) and the "lost" ten tribes of Israel.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Israel. Aug. 31, 2015.
Sen Cotton in Israel: ‘It Isn’t Over ‘Til the Votes are Counted’
Latest Indepth Stories

So it is critical that readers in the districts indicated come out to vote.

We urge readers to seek out upcoming rallies scheduled for times and places that work for them.

To be sure, the worst of what was directed at Mr. Nadler by some random hotheads with no real power or influence (calling him a “kapo,” for example) was over the top.

We can readily understand that it would be an embarrassment to the president were Congress to reject the deal he struck, even if that rejection would be vetoed and go nowhere.

As the First Zionist Congress was indisputably one of the seminal events in modern Jewish history, it is not surprising that it became the subject of some of the most beloved, beautiful, and rare Rosh Hashanah cards ever created.

Many in the media impart bias in place of truth; convey personal prejudice over objective facts.

Nahal Haredi is the ultimate solution, according to Branski, serving haredim from a wide variety of backgrounds – chassidish and yeshivish, Sephardi and Askenazi.

A recent study found that 54% of Jewish college students experienced/witnessed anti-Semitism in 2014

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

More Articles from Harvey Rachlin
Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman

People are proudly called “nerd or geek” (both Gentile appellations) but who aspires to “nebbish”?

An anti-Semitic poster seen in Europe.

How has anti-Semitism persisted throughout history? Times may change but people & human nature don’t

It will be hard for many to accept that some of Golda’s gems may not have come from Golda’s mouth

My Jewish star was battered, indeed it was a wreck
But I picked it up anyway and put it around my neck
To know that hatred mangled it was surely very painful
But just the same to me it is still very beautiful.

Our current feature consists of two parts: (1) Israel and Jewish politics and (2) Jewish organizations.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/youre-jewish-but-do-you-believe-in-god/2013/12/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: