Monday, May 18, 2009

Blogsite Title Tune-up

I have changed the title of this blogsite from "Towards a Rational America" to "Towards a Rational America and An Enlightened Judaism". This expansion was made in order for the name to more accurately reflect the scope of my posts—past, present, and future.

When I began this blog last year, President Bush was still in power and wreaking havoc on America. Many of the issues concerning the then socio-economic-political scene in our country at that time, about which I wrote (or ranted about, depending on your point of view) are being addressed by the Obama Administration. This is not to say the crisis is over; the economy is still in shambles and the unemployment rate is over 8%. But President Obama is moving forward on such important issues as health care, workers rights, and restoring science to its rightful place in education and government decisions, such as the policy on stem cell research. Perhaps these steps are the beginning of a movement towards an enlightened America.

But I want to make it clear that as a concerned American Jew, I also want to see Judaism in the U.S. reverse its right wing drift and become more progressive and enlightened as well. One way to do this is to eliminate an unprovable supreme being from the picture, as for example the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) has done. Very importantly, in an enlightened Judaism, the Orthodox wing would not be so arrogant as to proclaim itself the sole authority vs. other Jewish schools of thought, or if it did, it would be vigorously challenged by the other branches for such chutzpah. The problem is that many if not most non-Orthodox Jews have an inferiority complex about their own practice of Judaism. So they look up to the Orthodox as the authentic, true Jews who should be given as much leeway as they want to decide who and who is not a legitimate Jew.

But this kind of liberation is easier said than done when for example the Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva University President Norman Lamm told the Jerusalem Post that it's time to say Kaddish (prayer for the dead) over the more moderate Conservative and Reform concepts of Judaism due the their shrinking numbers (when in fact the latter branch is actually growing). He further said that Reform Judaism "is out of the picture, because they never got into the picture". I would counter that as the result of his arrogance, Lamm doesn't even get the picture.
Finally, for a rational America to become a reality, the key is secularization. In such a political and social framework, the individual may choose to accept or reject the notion of a supreme being as he or she sees fit. However, no sectarian group would have the power to dictate its belief to others regarding a deity or to demand special privileges from the government. In my opinion, this would be a truly just society for non-believers and believers alike and would bring the non-establishment clause of First Amendment of the Constitution to full fruition.