Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Are Reform and Conservative Judaism misappropriating traditional Judaism?

It’s going to be a rollercoaster, but don’t worry: it has a happy ending.

It’s easy to show and explain that ‘messianic synagogues’ are just churches where Jesus is reigning with a sauce of Jewish words and customs. That isn’t only fake Judaism and falsehood. (How can one promote falsehood and claim to believe in G^d?!) But when we look at the differences between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox, things are much less clear.

Although no question is taboo in Judaism, the above one is so politically incorrect that, rather than looking for answers, most people may tend to just say that it’s s proof of disrespect and forbidden to ask.

One could counter that Reform and Conservative and Reconstructionist and Humanist Judaism are new and that everyone knows that all the shades of Orthodox Judaism only are continuations of historic Judaism.

However, Judaism always changed, over the ages, so why would the changes that happened in the last one-and-a-half century be deemed unworthy of being part of the Judaism of millennia?

One could say that it is a bridge too far to do away with the separation between the men’s and the women’s section, question the Divinity of the Torah, to let the public vote on what Jewish Law should ‘prescribe,’ to abandon exclusively maternal lineage, and to reject the Supernatural, etc.

Those are radical departures of the past, but we’ve been there before. Debates on biggies, like if there’s a future world, resurrection, or free will.

That is true, but the groups that held that these don’t exist, discontinued to be part of the Jewish Tradition. They may have meant well and have been sincere and honest and noble and holy. But not Jewish, in hindsight.

For now, we can’t tell which part(s) of Judaism have the future. So, that cannot be an argument to disqualify any specific way. Maybe Pluralism will win out. Maybe Purification will. Maybe neither. Prediction is hard, especially concerning the future. Moses didn’t even recognize the Judaism of Rabbi Akiva, the pillar of all Judaism we have today.

But, there is still a difference if you build on old Judaism or if you take modernity and give it a Jewish veneer.

That’s what you say about the non-Orthodoxy. But the great Maimonides adjusted Greek Philosophy to fit Judaism. His books were burned and his name was shunned, until it was discovered that he did not compromise Judaism at all. Same with Chassidut. Same with so many Jewish renewals.

Still, we don’t let anyone just invent his own lifestyle and philosophy and claim it to be a legit brand of Judaism. Not only would that be the end of a distinguishable Jewish People but it would also guarantee that every religious Jew began his own Judaism without any common denominator.

But, anti-Semites don’t distingue between the present different Jewish streams. They equally hate all of them.

Oh, that’s true. This is a serious argument, sadly so. They’re often the first and best in finding out who’s Jewish (for the wrong reasons, obviously).

However, all of the above mess might be the result of the tough situation that Jews found themselves in in the Germanic countries. Every tiny mistake could unleash a mass murder on the small communities, and those Jews became terribly over-precise. A strictness that never was part of Judaism. Then, it can be called a  sign of assimilation. Non-Ashkenazic Jews don’t separate their communities into Reform, Orthodox, etc.

So, all of the above may be solved when the majority of Jews, the non-Ashkenazic Jews, will take the lead in shepherding the Jewish People.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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