Joel Smith
A Jew who thinks for himself


This being my first blog, I think I should introduce myself, and give you an idea of what I’ll be writing about. I am an old Jew, originally from Chicago, well educated, well traveled, well worn, and well…eager to let you know what I think about matters related to Israel, and ha Shem (and how we feel about ha Shem personally, privately, intimately, aside from what we have been taught about Torah and Yiddishkeit).

Others far more knowledgeable than I have told you what is found in the Torah or Talmud – and that’s fine – but this is addressed to you; it may address things that are not addressed customarily, like your personal relationship with Gd Himself. I write Himself, but as far as I am concerned, it would be just as “accurate” to write Herself or Itself. We Jews are devoted to tradition. I understand why, and have no objections, but I believe we are like everything else,meant to evolve or die out. I think the Orthodox disagree; they believe Torah was given to us by Gd Himself and as such it is perfect and that’s all we need to know. I am unorthodox.  My blog is written for those who believe not only is it permissable to think for one’s self, it is right that we should do so. I believe Gd wants us to move the ball forward in accordance to the (sorry) state of civilization, to be “a light unto the nations”. I believe that while Torah is our foundation, we are still required to build the edifice.

I’ve read that our ancestors did not think of their relationship with Gd as being spiritual or personal, nor was it in any sense political. I’ve read that all they thought was that it was a team effort to abide by the covenant, period. Today, many Jews feel that our religion is about ethics, and that we must necessarily care about society (broadly) and so, politics. Unfortunately, it seems to me that scant attention is paid to the numinous – the great indescribable feeling that Gd exists and is “watching us”.

However, this is supposed to be an introduction…while the religion of Jews today will be the focus of my blog, I will also opine on Israel today, mostly politics. You may like what I write about religion (in its broadest sense) and not agree with what I have to say about Israel today. But, hey, c’est la vie. I want to write a few things concerning Israel’s concerns today, and will soon. Stay tuned….

About the Author
Born and raised in Chicago, 1938. Both my parents Jewish. Bar mitzvahed, and supposedly Conservative. U. of Ill. B.A. then 2 years in the army, then to the U of Montana, M.A., M.F.A. Taught, drove a cab in Chicago, spent some years in CA. Was mentored by Noah ben Shea in a Religious Studies program at International College. Traveled internationally. Spent 1975 and 6 in Israel. Painted (I'm an artist). Held 15 jobs (including teaching English in several countries). Managed to buy 3 acres of country in north Florida where I live today doing things that please me.