Rabbi Barry Chesler: Eleventh Grade: Modern Jewish Civilization

During this semester, we considered three different responses to modernity: political, meaning how the Jews responded to the Edict of Tolerance; national, which includes the rise of Zionism and new ideas about how Jews fit in; and religious, in particular the reforms introduced by the Reform Movement and the inclusion of women as rabbis in the Conservative Movement. Evaluate these three responses. Making reference to specific texts, which approach do you think is the best? Which is the weakest? Can there be an adequate response to modernity, or is any response likely to be reactive rather than proactive?


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