What Do Secular Jews Have In Common?

In a 1995 lecture on Exodus 6, Dennis Prager says: I have more in common with a Falashan Jew in Ethiopia with whom I can’t correspond than I do with a secular Jew in LA. Torah is what makes us Jewish.

What does a secular Jew in LA have with a secular Jew in France? Nothing. People say, Jewish food. That’s not correct. Middle Eastern Jews eat an entirely different diet. Yiddish? Yiddish is European. The other half of Jewry spoke Ladino.

There’s nothing secular Jews have in common with other secular Jews in different cultures.

There was a humanistic synagogue. In my more firebrand years, I am mellow compared to what I was 20 years ago, I would walk into gladiatorial combat with anyone. I remember going to Detroit to debate the founder of Humanistic Judaism, a rabbi in Birmingham [Sherwin T. Wine], Michigan. I’ve come close to knowing what it is like to go in the ring with trainers behind you massaging you and getting you ready with towels and a bucket of water.

This evening had thousands of Jews coming to scream on the one they were rooting for — the humanist or the religious one. I had my backers. He had his backers. It was like a prize fight. It bothered me in some way. I don’t think anyone came to be enlightened but just to see major gladiatorial combat.

Do you know what he did in his synagogue? They would get together Friday night. And do you know what they would read? Philip Roth. They had a Torah — it was in the library.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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