Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Why stay??

Posted by   + Show Post

Why not convert?  Why not just go all the way and convert to Judaism?  What is the benefit of remaining a Noachide, rather than converting?

 

As far as the kids go, would it be better to be part of a religion rather than just on the sideline appreciating that religion? 

 

What verses do you use to support remaining where you are rather than converting?

by on Aug. 25, 2008 at 9:46 PM
Replies (11-14):
Dvora
by Group Owner on Aug. 28, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Here is an interestig article that I think you should read


The difference between Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism


Tracing the Tree of Life

Lawrence Kelemen

CLICK HERE FOR HYPERLINKED FOOTNOTES VERSION


The path to Orthodoxy is long and labyrinthine. Does G-d exist? Did He give the Torah? Did He also provide an oral tradition? Like many Jews rediscovering their heritage, I had to confront and resolve each of these challenges. Eventually, we pre-ba’alei tshuva arrive at the denominational crossroads. Convinced of the Torah’s Divine origin and aware that, to be decipherable, the Pentateuch must have been given with an oral explanation, I sought the Jewish movement in possession of that ancient Mesorah.

Identifying the Historical Trunk

Working chronologically, I began with the Orthodox. About two thousand years before the Reform and Conservative movements arrived on the scene, Orthodox sages recorded the claim that the oral tradition was received from G-d at Sinai in 1312 B.C.E. and passed down intact to the sages of the Mishna.[1]  Later talmudic texts affirm belief in a G-d-given oral tradition[2], as do the writings of medieval and post-medieval Orthodox scholars.[3]  Although the Sadducees and Karaites rejected the oral tradition of the Orthodox, secular scholars concur that these groups were short-lived splinters off the historical mainstream of Orthodoxy.[4]  Until today, Orthodoxy claims, the oral tradition has been passed intact, parent-to-child and teacher-to-student.[5] Theoretically, the Orthodox could possess the original oral tradition.

The Reform Branch

The second-oldest extant Jewish movement is Reform. The grandfather of Reform was Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Although Mendelssohn never publicly rejected the Torah’s or the oral tradition’s Divine origin, perhaps portentously, four out of six of Mendelssohn’s surviving children converted to Christianity.[6] In a parallel event, one of Mendelssohn’s greatest students, David Friedlander (1765-1834), wrote to Pastor Teller, Counsellor of the Prussian Ministry of Religion, on behalf of himself and several other Jewish householders, offering to join the Lutheran Church. Only after Pastor Teller rejected Friedlander’s request for conversion did this student of Mendelssohn set himself to the task of reforming his own religion.[7]

What Mendelssohn hesitated to say publicly about Mesorah, Abraham Geiger (1810-1874), the most influential of Reform’s second generation, boldly proclaimed. In 1837, Geiger called the first Reform rabbinical conference in Wiesbaden, Germany, and declared: “The Talmud must go, the Bible, that collection of mostly so beautiful and exalted human books, as a divine work must also go.”[8] With this declaration, Reform became the first known group in more than 3,100 years of Jewish history to deny the Torah’s divine origin.[9] The Reform rejected the Mesorah.

Shortly after Geiger organized German Reform, his American counterpart, Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900) launched the movement in the New World. In an 1850 debate at the Charleston synagogue, he declared that he didn’t believe in a personal messiah or in bodily resurrection[10], both of which were pillars of the Jewish oral tradition.[11] In 1857, Wise published a new prayerbook which omitted the traditional prayers for a return to Zion, the rebuilding of the Temple, etc., paving the way for Reform’s official declaration of anti-Zionism in the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885.[12] Wise went on to found the Reform seminary, Hebrew Union College; and at their first graduation ceremony in 1883, Wise served “Little Neck Clams, Fillet de Boef, Salade de Shrimps, Grenouiles (frogs legs) a la Creme, and Ice Cream.”[13]

In mid-November, 1885, Dr. Kaufman Kohler convened the Pittsburgh conference of Reform leaders, hoping to formally establish official Reform positions on a range of subjects. Kohler attempted to set the conference’s tone and direction with statements like, “We consider their [the Holy scripture’s] composition, their arrangements and their entire contents as the work of men, betraying in their conceptions of the world shortcomings of their age;”[14] and “We must discard the idea as altogether foreign to us, that marriage with a Gentile is not legal.”[15]  In his opening statement to the conference, Kohler told the assembly:

I do not for a moment hesitate to say it right here and in the face of the entire Jewish world that… circumcision is a barbarous cruelty which disfigures and disgraces our ancestral heirloom and our holy mission as priests among mankind. The rite is a national remnant of savage African life… Nor should children born of intermarriage be viewed any longer exclusively by the primitive national standard which determines the racial character of the child only by the blood of the mother… I can no longer accept the fanciful and twisted syllogisms of Talmudic law as binding for us… I think, if anywhere, here we ought to have the courage to emancipate ourselves from the thralldom of Rabbinical legality.[16]

With few modifications, the conference unanimously adopted Dr. Kohler’s proposed Pittsburg Platform. The Reform movement thus accepted “as binding only the moral laws” of Judaism, rejecting, “all such as not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.” The Platform swept away Jewish dietary laws because “they fail to impress the modern Jew.” Kohler was then selected to be President of the Hebrew Union College, and a year later he declared, “There is no justification whatsoever for… the most precious time of the student to be spent upon Halakhic discussions… [and] the inane discussions that fill so many pages of the Babylonian Gemarah.”[17] Under Kohler, the HUC preparatory department required no Talmud study, although students were asked to take courses in New Testament and Koran.[18] Kohler referred to Reform Jewry as “We who are no longer bound to the Shulhan Aruk.” [19] Within Reform circles, the Mesorah was then not only lost; it was anathema.

By 1972, Reform had drifted to the extreme. A survey commissioned that year by the Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis, reported that “Only one in ten [Reform] rabbis states that he believes in G-d ‘in the more or less traditional Jewish sense.’”[20] The remaining ninety-percent classified their faith with terms like: “Agnostic;” “Atheist;” “Bahai in spirit, Judaic in practice;” “Polydoxist;” “Religious Existentialist;” and “Theological Humanist.”[21] During the 1990 Central Conference of American [Reform] Rabbis’ debate on the ordination of professed homosexuals, an HUC professor reminded the committee that Leviticus 18 calls homosexual acts an abomination; but a member of the majority easily disposed of his objection, saying, “It’s pretty late in the day for scripture to be invoked in CCAR debates.”[22] The same year, about 25 percent of Reform leaders under age 40 had married gentiles.[23] By 1991, the overall intermarriage rate among Reform Jews had topped 60 percent.[24]

The Conservative Sub-Branch

A debate had long raged among Reform activists over the pace at which Judaism should evolve. While Abraham Geiger felt reformers should actively lead the community away from outdated beliefs and practices, his colleague Zacharias Frankel, whom many cite as the Conservative movement’s intellectual ancestor, felt that progressive leadership would build resentment and stimulate rebellion, and that therefore “the reformer’s task was simply to confirm the abandonment of those ideas and practices which the community had already set aside.”[25] Thus Frankel wrote:[26]

The means [of transformation] must be grasped with such care, thought through with such discretion, created always with such awareness of the moment in time, that the goal will be reached unnoticed, that the forward progress will seem inconsequential to the average eye.

This in-house debate continued through the period of the Hebrew Union College banquet and publication of the Pittsburgh Platform.  Reform’s accelerating leaps away from Jewish tradition jarred those who preferred Frankel’s more subtle approach, and these conservatives branched off to form a new movement – Conservative Judaism. In 1886, they founded the “Jewish Theological Seminary of America,” named for Frankel’s Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau.[27] An article printed in the new institution’s magazine declared that JTS would steer a course between “stupid Orthodoxy and insane Reform.”[28]

As a branch off of Reform, the new Conservative group possessed no more affinity for the Mesorah than their parent movement. Solomon Schechter (1849-1915), who took over JTS in 1902, violated the Sabbath publicly[29] and wrote that “the three r’s” stood for “rotten ranting rabbis.”[30] Conservative historians say that Schechter’s successor, Cyrus Adler (1863-1940) “shared the anticlerical bias.”[31]

Reform scholars laud the next head of the Conservative seminary, Louis Finkelstein (1895-1991), for creating “a new willingness on the [Jewish Theological] Seminary’s part to apply [secular] critical method to the study of Humash.”[32] Under Finkelstein’s guidance, JTS organized an essay competition in 1959 on the theme “The Traditions in Genesis 1:1-25:17 – Resemblances to, Dependencies Upon, and Contrasts With Traditions of Other Peoples;”[33] and by 1970 Finkelstein had introduced an advanced Bible seminar whose course description promised “an analysis of the various sources of the Pentateuch.”[34] Finkelstein’s progressive approach to the Pentateuch had instant practical consequences: Despite the Biblical prohibition on lighting fires on the Sabbath[35], the Rabbinical Assembly issued a paper permitting driving automobiles to Sabbath services.[36] Just as its Reform ancestor had, Conservative “Judaism” was unraveling.

Finkelstein’s wife entirely repudiated her faith and dropped all Jewish observances.[37] Finkelstein’s own attitude toward halakha might best be illustrated by his approach to the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh (saving human lives) during World War II. In the period beginning in 1938, when many young German Jews applied to JTS to get visas to America, Finkelstein refused to issue letters of acceptance.[38] According to the Seminary history, published recently by JTS itself:[39]

The plight of ordinary Jews in Eastern Europe did not occupy Finkelstein’s attention… There is no doubt that Seminary leaders, faculty and students knew of Nazi atrocities against the Jews during World War II. As a member of the American Jewish Committee and the Joint Distribution Committee, Finkelstein regularly received reports about Nazi atrocities… Although moved by the plight of European Jewry, he nevertheless neither responded to direct appeals to participate in protest actions on their behalf nor involved the Seminary in any public activity about the Holocaust.

The JTS document states, “There is no evidence that the Seminary tried to raise money in order to rescue German Jews by admitting them as students.”[40] Indeed, money was not the obstacle: In 1938 Finkelstein found all the funds necessary to launch the Seminary’s Institute for Interdenominational Studies, which “brought together Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish clergy and scholars for courses on the various religious traditions,”[41] and “during the war Finkelstein sought to expand the Institute, raising money from Littauer, the Warburgs, and other Seminary contributors, and obtaining a $20,000 grant from the New York Foundation.”[42] Finkelstein succeeded in opening branches of the Institute in Chicago (1944) and Boston (1945).[43] In 1943, when asked why he was diverting critical resources to interfaith dialogue while European Jewry was being exterminated, Finkelstein explained that the Interfaith Institute “has evoked such high praise in many quarters, and has done such effective work, that I am sure all of us agree it must be kept open and expanded at all costs.”[44] When the Holocaust ended, Finkelstein’s interest in international affairs was suddenly kindled. Citing a letter he wrote to the New York Times on 11 August 1945, the Seminary history boasts that “Finkelstein’s concern for brotherhood and democracy prompted him to extend sympathy also to the Germans, and he urged the Allied occupation forces to treat them benignly.”[45]

Gerson Cohen (1924-1991), Finkelstein’s successor, spent most of his career fighting for the ordination of women rabbis. Cohen was initially opposed to such a radical departure from tradition[46]; but when a JTS-commissioned survey found that synagogue members favored women’s ordination, Cohen did an immediate about-face.[47] Cohen was initially stymied by the opposition of the entire JTS Talmud staff; but he dealt with this problem by creating an independent commission to decide the issue and awarding only one (of fourteen) commission seats to a JTS Talmud staff member.[48] Half the commission seats were given to laypeople.[49] Cohen confided to friends that he would “try to ram the commission’s report down the Faculty’s throats.”[50] HUC’s Ellenson and Bycel observe that “The [Jewish Theological] Seminary – in deciding to ordain women as rabbis – broke dramatically with whatever remnant remained of its Orthodox roots.”[51]

Ismar Schorsch, JTS’ current Chancellor, admitted in 1986 that all of the Conservative clergy’s ties to the past, to the Mesorah, have been broken: “There is almost no common denominator between the profession of the modern [Conservative] rabbi… and the religious leadership of the Middle Ages.”[52] David Lieber, once President-Emeritus of the JTS branch in Los Angeles and President of the international association of Conservative rabbis, offers these (by now trite) confessions: “I do not believe in the literal divine authorship of the Torah,”[53] and “I do not believe the law and its details to be of divine origin.”[54] JTS Professor of Jewish Philosophy Neil Gillman describes the movement’s position more eloquently: “The biblical account of revelation is classic myth… Torah then represents the canonical statement of our myth.”[55]

And, again, disconnection from the Mesorah has practical consequences. At the 1980 convention of Conservative rabbis, Harold Kushner, one of the movements most influential leaders, offered these sober observations:[56]

Is the Conservative movement halakhic? Not “Should it be halakhic?,” not “Would the world be better, would my job be easier, more gratifying if it were?” But “Is it?” And the answer is that it obviously is not. Conservative Judaism is not halakhic because Conservative Jews are not halakhic, and increasingly even Conservative rabbis are not halakhic.

Although it often takes time, lack of Mesorah eventually corrupts observance; and lax observance stimulates spiraling assimilation. In the Conservative movement today we see the beginnings of the spiritual and demographic unraveling that rips apart any Jewish movement disconnected from Mesorah: One study found that four percent of Conservative Jews rediscover Orthodoxy each year, 13 percent move into Reform, and 35 percent drop all Jewish affiliation; another found that 37 percent intermarry.[57]

Conservative Offshoots

The Conservative movement splintered twice, spinning off the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Seminary in 1968 and the Institute for Traditional Judaism in 1985. Reconstructionists, led by JTS professor Mordechai Kaplan, broke off to the left, jettisoning belief in the supernatural altogether.[58] The Institute for Traditional Judaism, led by JTS professor David Weiss Halivni, broke off to the right, arguing that G-d had given something to Moses at Sinai, but that that original revelation had been corrupted and lost during the Babylonian exile.[59] According to Weiss Halivni, the Torah represents only a sixth-century B.C.E. manmade guess as to the original material’s form and content. According to both groups, we do not possess a G-d given Torah, let alone a Divine oral tradition explaining the Pentateuch.

The Final Portrait

Analysis complete, I stepped back to witness Orthodoxy flowing straight through history, reiterating in each generation its ancient claim to a Divine Torah and oral tradition. Reform branched off two centuries ago and immediately confessed that it possessed no Mesorah. Indeed, it intended to reform what it had received. Reform passed its lack of Mesorah to Conservative, who bequeathed the same to its left-wing and right-wing splinter groups.

Today, not only does Orthodoxy claim to possess the G-d-given solution, their demographic performance attests to it. Even in the midst of the worst assimilation in recorded Jewish history, today’s Orthodoxy produces the lowest intermarriage rate (2%) and boasts not only the highest day-school enrollment rate, but also the largest adult enrollment in rabbinical seminaries (over 10,000).[60]

Moreover, I saw that even Orthopraxy-without-Mesorah – Jewish learning and mitzvah observance conducted without intimate connections to the previous generation’s sages (Mendelssohn-style) – eventually decays, producing increasingly assimilated “movements,” until nothing is left physically and spiritually of Judaism and its carriers.

Today, I realized, there are only two groups: Orthodox who possess Mesorah, and everyone else who doesn’t.[61]

Finally, perhaps crucially, I permitted myself a personal immersion in the world of Mesorah. I entered the community of sages and detected what thousands before me found: a profound sincerity that even the leaders among the non-Orthodox admit they cannot replicate. HUC Professor of Jewish Religious Thought, Eugene Borowitz, thus offers this confession[62]:

When the Bible was G-d’s book and the Oral Torah had been given by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai, there was no question why one should give them reverent attention. They were God’s own communications and, in a time when there no longer was prophecy, the best way one could be in touch with the Divine. When Reform Judaism insisted that the various books of the Torah tradition were largely human creations, that had the advantage of allowing unprecedented innovation. It also devalued the old texts and made them less sacred. A simple experience brought the point home to me tellingly. I was teaching a group together with… an Orthodox scholar. After reading a rabbinic passage to the group he put his book down on a desk, but so near the edge that it became unbalanced and fell off. He quickly retrieved it, kissed it, and put it more carefully on the desk, not stopping in the development of the theme he was presenting. Kissing books, particularly when they have fallen, is a nice old Jewish custom which reflects very much more than respect for authors and publishers. It is related to our belief that our books derive ultimately from G-d – that in loving G-d one loves G-d’s words, the Oral and Written Torah. I wonder if liberal Jews with their sense of the humanity of our sacred literature could ever come to such regard for Torah that – leaving aside their sense of propriety – they could ever think of kissing one of its volumes.

I cried the first time I saw a yeshiva daven ‑ ordinary, but sincere people pouring forth their hearts in whispered praise and pleas, the way their teachers and teachers’ teachers had for centuries. I was dumbfounded watching Orthodox businessmen arrive in the beis hamidrash at 5:00 AM to pore over the daf hayomi – a feat many non-Orthodox rabbis are incompetent to perform ‑ and touched when I found that they also returned after work each evening to prepare with their rebbe for the next morning’s class. I remember vividly the first time I accompanied Tomchei Shabbat ‑ an unlikely conspiracy of teenagers, young professionals, and elderly sages ‑ on their way to furtively deliver crates of challahs, grape juice and chicken to the community’s needy erev Shabbat; and I recall trembling when I discovered that such an organization exists (and has always existed) in Orthodox communities around the world. I will never forget the intense concern that filled my teacher’s bright eyes when, stroking his white beard, he read to me the Talmudic passage, “If a man masters the entire Bible and Talmud, but fails to make intimate connections with the previous generation’s sages, he forever remains an ignoramus.”[63] I will never forget how he held my hand and whispered, “You must always have a rebbe.” It was with this portrait before me that I returned to Orthodoxy, to Mesorah, and to a world of promise and awe – a world in which my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will touch Divinity and, with reverence and passion, lovingly kiss their sefarim.

To be a leader, you have to care.
To be a GREAT leader, you have to care GREATLY - Rav Noach Weinberg

Please pray for HaRav Yisroal Noach Ben Hilda for a refuah shalaima

aish.com the #1 Jewish web site!
Petie
by on Aug. 28, 2008 at 7:20 PM


Quoting Dvora:

Are you near either one of these synagoges?

Chabad of Alabama, Beis Ariel Cultural Center
3040 Overton Road
Birmingham, AL 35223 
Tel: 205-970-0100
Fax: 205-970-0543
Email: chabadofalabama@aol.com
Website: http://www.chabadofalabama.com/
Rabbi Yossi Posner, Director
Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Program Director
Mrs. Fruma Posner, Co-Director
Updated: January 3, 2006
Please update us!

Knesseth Israel Congregation (Orthodox)
3225 Montevallo Road, Birmingham, AL 35223
Tel: 205-879-1664
Fax: 205-879-5774
Email: KICongreg@aol.com
Website: http://www.knessethisraelcongregation.org/ 
Avraham Shmidman, Rabbi
Please update us!

 


Nope, those are almost 3 hours away.  We live in the very bottom of AL about 1 hour from the FL line.

OkieNoahide2
by Member on Sep. 15, 2008 at 6:18 PM

Shalom Petie,

I think Devora has done an excellent job at trying to answer your question :-) I get the sense that it is community that you miss more than observance.

i really do not intend to offend you, If I do please forgive me.

The Benefit of being B'nai Noah is that you can draw close to Hashem and have a fulfilling life with out having to completely tear down your life as you know and learn a totally new culture with all of the details. Hashem chose Israel to teach all of humanity His Way. Israel was designated "Priests" for and to us :-) think of it this way, We are the co-religionist non-Jew part of Judaism...... if we all convert who will Israel teach? Who will they be Priests and Lights too?

Hashem has declared from Sinai His organizational structure... for example on our website Rabbi Sitzman has an article about noachide Theology http://www.okbns.org/Theo_History.html I am quoting in part

Quote:

"Noachide theology is the same as the theology of Judaism. However, non-Jews are not required to accept all the details of this theology to the extent that Jews are. Observant Noachides are the Non-Jews in Judaism. Just as the Priests, Levites, women etc... have particular Laws given to them at Sinai, so do Noachides have particular Laws and together we all make one True Universal Religion, walking in the Ways of our Creator."


But in order to be observant we must study and be taught by observant Jews which Reform and Conservative are not..... I will try to help you find others in Alabama if you are willing. I do know there are observant B'nai Noah in Alabama and Georgia, maybe we can find someone close enough that you can have get togethers like we here in Okla do. We are very scattered but because we need community we have found our noachide Brothers and Sisters from all over the globe :-)

I know I asked you already, but please do consider joining us  for our live disscussion group

www.virtualyeshiva.org Thursday Evenings 9-11 EST You will find you are not as alone as you feel :-)

My personal email address is progers(at sign)okbns.org if you would like for me to call you or you can call me anytime, write me an email and we can swap our phone numbers if you would like.

Please know that I do understand your frustration and I am praying for you.

Shalom

Pam  

Petie
by on Sep. 15, 2008 at 10:23 PM


Quoting OkieNoahide2:

Shalom Petie,

I think Devora has done an excellent job at trying to answer your question :-) I get the sense that it is community that you miss more than observance.

i really do not intend to offend you, If I do please forgive me.

The Benefit of being B'nai Noah is that you can draw close to Hashem and have a fulfilling life with out having to completely tear down your life as you know and learn a totally new culture with all of the details. Hashem chose Israel to teach all of humanity His Way. Israel was designated "Priests" for and to us :-) think of it this way, We are the co-religionist non-Jew part of Judaism...... if we all convert who will Israel teach? Who will they be Priests and Lights too?

Hashem has declared from Sinai His organizational structure... for example on our website Rabbi Sitzman has an article about noachide Theology http://www.okbns.org/Theo_History.html I am quoting in part

Quote:

"Noachide theology is the same as the theology of Judaism. However, non-Jews are not required to accept all the details of this theology to the extent that Jews are. Observant Noachides are the Non-Jews in Judaism. Just as the Priests, Levites, women etc... have particular Laws given to them at Sinai, so do Noachides have particular Laws and together we all make one True Universal Religion, walking in the Ways of our Creator."


But in order to be observant we must study and be taught by observant Jews which Reform and Conservative are not..... I will try to help you find others in Alabama if you are willing. I do know there are observant B'nai Noah in Alabama and Georgia, maybe we can find someone close enough that you can have get togethers like we here in Okla do. We are very scattered but because we need community we have found our noachide Brothers and Sisters from all over the globe :-)

I know I asked you already, but please do consider joining us  for our live disscussion group

www.virtualyeshiva.org Thursday Evenings 9-11 EST You will find you are not as alone as you feel :-)

My personal email address is progers(at sign)okbns.org if you would like for me to call you or you can call me anytime, write me an email and we can swap our phone numbers if you would like.

Please know that I do understand your frustration and I am praying for you.

Shalom

Pam  

Your absolutely right that I want the community.  I want my kids to grow up belonging to a community.  I don't want to feel like an outsider like I have for years at Christian churches.  I really am tired, and sad that we haven't found a community to really fit in with.  A community that we agree with.  I am sad that my kids haven't learned much about God and his ways.  So, yeah, I think that is the main thing for me, I am just tired.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)