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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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Jewish Guilt and the Deterioration of Jewry

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Judaism, like life, is a journey. At no time are any two people at the same place on their journey. There is no good Jew or bad Jew. There is only a Jew that is finding his/her way in the world. There are only people at different places at different times on a journey. Let us move forward in world Jewry with love and acceptance and the desire to survive by being willing to reach out and engage individuals, encouraging each of them, each of us, to connect to their heritage and their faith in whichever way is best for them.

Jewry today fails not because of the rise of secularism, nor because of intermarriage or assimilation. Rather it is these things that are themselves caused by a lack of connection. We can agree that each person is an individual, each person is different, and as such each person connects with themselves, with the world, with faith, with nature, with education, and with Judaism in their own way. To ignore that is to ignore one’s own self and to turn one’s back on the Jewish people.

If world Jewry is to survive, let us never again utter those words. Let us empower ourselves with the ability to explain that there is no good or bad when speaking of one’s identity, there is only “I am here at this moment and at this time.” At another time I was at another point and in the future I will, as well, be at another point in my life and in Judaism. Let us encourage every individual to spread this message of empathy. When we can all feel good enough, when we can all feel value in ourselves not only as humans, but as Jewish humans, that, my friends, is the moment when we will, each of us, begin to grow, begin to flourish, begin to shine. And, in turn, Judaism will grow, flourish, and shine.

Jews who are excited and who participate in their culture and faith from a place of enthusiasm and love are Jews that will enrich Judaism. Judaism will be stronger to be made up of followers that love it and love themselves.

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3 Responses to “Jewish Guilt and the Deterioration of Jewry”

  1. Gil Gilman says:

    Guilt is an unhealthy motivator whether you are Jew or Gentile. Fear is guilt's step-sister. Religion could deal with these issues, if anyone had real confidence in the ceremonies designed for this. In my mind, the seasons and festivals are for this purpose, the fall festivals beginning with Elul, Tashlich on Rosh HaShana through Yom Kippur and Sukkot especially so, but only with faith in Hashem, and a recognition of His work, not mere ritual observance. The ritual observances are fine, but won't obliterate guilt on their own.

  2. Well said and well met.

  3. Unclear is how Jews are deteriorating; relatively speaking, there are no pogroms, no governments with openly discriminatory anti-Jewish policies where Jews actually live, & no force of any merit that would murder Jews. Assuredly, the guilt is less now than when Jews were supposed to say "I'm sorry for having killed Christ."

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Jews should be excited and participate in their culture and faith from a place of enthusiasm and love.

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