European Jewry Cannot Be Effective as a Force in Europe Unless It Becomes a Pluralist Community

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Leo Baeck College european.judaism@lbc.ac.uk
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There are two aspects of this proposition. The first one depends on our understanding of the pluralist nature of European Jewry. The Jewish community of Europe is de facto pluralist, as any attempt to define the basis of our identity makes clear. Jews consider themselves as Jewish on religious, cultural, intellectual, ethnic or political grounds, and any combination of the above. That very diversity seems to be the only uniting factor that can hold together such a disparate group of people. Moreover Jews are also deeply influenced by the different national and cultural characteristics of the societies to which they belong. The classic basis for Jewish unity in Halakhah, Jewish law, has been seriously undermined by the fact of emancipation. What was formerly a total system encompassing all aspects of life, has effectively been reduced to only two areas where power remains with religious authorities, matters of status, who is a Jew and who may marry whom, and the particular form of religious practice they adopt.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe

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