Jews haven’t ceased searching for values and meaning. But the ideological movements of the past 200 years — Reform, Conservative, Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy — are all modern phenomena created as different responses to the encounter between Judaism and the realities of the 19th and 20th centuries. They are historical, and we’d be ill advised to see them as timeless. They may not be fully adequate to respond to the different set of challenges facing Jews in the 21st century.

So maybe instead of lamenting the lack of connection to “modern” Jewish ideologies, we should be working on creating postmodern ideologies. This is not a purely philosophical issue. It’s about the critical question of what Judaism as a culture, religion and civilization has to offer to those of us who yearn for meaning in an uncertain world.

Answering the question of why be Jewish is just as important as how to be Jewish.

Andres Spokoiny, “Study Points The Way Toward More Avenues to Jewish Life”, The Jewish Week (8 November 2013), 43.

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