TorahFor the last few weeks, it seems I have had more than the usual number of requests to share what it is about Judaism I actually believe. Here is a quick summary. What do you believe?

GOD

Different people and traditions understand and relate to God in different ways.

At different times and in different circumstances, sometimes the same person can hold different views of God and still other times, the same person can hold multiple and even contradictory views of God.

The rejection of inadequate concepts of God is intellectually and morally necessary.

Faith (or trust) in God can exist independently of belief in God. The possibility of an uncreated God necessarily pre-exists the possibility of existence whether the universe is created or eternal.

The possibility of God anchors the existence of love, justice and truth in reality and places them beyond mere utilitarian or constructed values.

Ethical living, personal kindness and the call to work for a just society, are the central expressions of faith derived from a belief in God.

Prayer is the heart in search of one’s God.

TORAH

Torah (or “Judaism as Sacred Teaching”) is the enduring dialogue between God as understood and experienced by the Jewish people.

Torah is an emergent process, which created the “Five Books of Moses,” the rabbinic tradition and continues to inform contemporary expressions of Judaism.

Torah works in concert with modern science and reason and does not seek to ground itself in the supernatural.

Distinguishing between Mitzvah (commandment) and Minhag (custom) is an ongoing personal and collective process.

ISRAEL

The Jewish people or “Keneseth Israel” is the Jewish people in its historical and future totality from its ancient origins to the present to the unknown future.

Zionism and the State of Israel are authentic, democratic and historical embodiments of a nationalist understanding of Jewish life.

Diaspora Jewish life is an authentic expression of Keneseth Israel anchored in respective host countries and cultures and tied to the State of Israel by enduring spiritual, cultural, historical and human bonds.

Judaism believes in the humanity of every individual and the necessity of peaceful, multi-faith cooperation with our friends and neighbors around the world.

Worship in the Jewish tradition provides spiritual depth to Jewish life and unity to the Jewish people.

The “Mission of Keneseth Israel” is to strive for world peace and to promote justice and among all people, nations and faiths.

I believe in an enduring spiritual presence beyond life in this world.

I hope this helps or at least gently provokes some good thinking. I realize some of my points are more philosophical than others. Let me know what it is that you believe.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D.