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, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. 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 most influential teachers (chronologically) 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. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), 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), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating 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. * 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. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. 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 a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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