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Careful, Daniel

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by John W. McGinley (United States), Jan 25, 2005 at 21:42

Your first sentence is inaccurate. "Orthodoxy" -- both khassidic and non-khassidic -- is itself a result of the Haskala, just as much as Reform Judaism, which started in Germany and transplanted itself to America, and Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism which are American invention. "Orthodoxy" emerged in the opening decades of the ninetheenth century as a response to the Haskala in general and the emergence of Reform Judaism in particular. Jewish "Orthodoxy" is just as much of a product of the Enlightenment (and its Haskala aftermath) as is Reform Judaism. But let that rest.

The rest of your article is insightful and substantially correct. Both in the American Diaspora and in Israel the future is with some evolution of "Orthodoxy." Basically this is good. Reform Judaism is not Judasim nor is Reconstructionist Judaism Judaism. Even Conservative Judaism is ceasing to be a valid form of Judaism. The future, for sure, is with "Orthodoxy." And this is good.

The fly in the ointment, however, is the drive of "Chabad" (previously known as "Lubavitch") to gain hegemony within "Orthodoxy" in America, Israel, and all over. Their technologically clever and effective "outreach" program is becoming more and more successful. But Chabadian synthesis between Maimonides and Kabbalah is frighteningly puerile and terribly misrepresentative of both Scripture and the Talmud. If "Chabad" achieves hegemony in Judaism, then Judaisim will die out, killed off by a "Disney-World" syndrome. Yes. It IS over for Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructinist Judaism. "Orthodoxy" is now called upon to resist the seductive allure of Chabad and produce a Judaism worthy of these difficult times. JWMcG
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