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

Judaism is not a religion

If you want to define it, it’s the national awareness/culture of the Jews

The concept of secular Jews irks many Christians, more so than Muslims. And then, more than 90% of ‘secular’ Israeli Jews fast in some fashion on Yom Kippur and celebrate Pesach Eve in some traditional way. Many also have a special festive meal with family and/or friends almost every Friday night, Shabbat Eve. Now, we have even secular Jews who learn Talmud as that is part of their Inheritance too. We could call them traditional instead of secular, but that solves little of the outsiders’ enigma.

In the center of Amsterdam is a pedestrian shopping street, and midway, surprisingly, it has a church. The door is always open. Next to it, there is a sign: Ten minutes for God. Jews could never do this. First of all, the center of Jewish life is the home, not the Synagogue. And, husbands need to make their wives happy and support their leadership of the home. And then, to smile at a stranger is a sacred act. To be honest in business shows what it means to be a Jew. To drop everything and stay home because your partner feels lonely is holy too. Prayer is but a part of Judaism. And, Orthodox Jewish women only need to pray a few quick words a day.

In the Jewish vision, a Gentile should be a good person. But, a good Jew is not ‘it.’ A Jew needs to be good and holy. But this holiness we express in every relationship: with time, with ourselves, with our fellow humans, with all of creation, and with G^d. In fact, how could we hope to please the King while we ignore His children? Even, people come first; G^d can wait. Judaism is a very demanding lifestyle. However, when done well, it’s not a burden but a joy. Look at Simchat Torah. Yet, we don’t try to turn everyone (anyone) into Jews. Compare: Physicians try to save lives. What is more important? That still doesn’t mean that everyone should go to med school.

I grew up with two secular-Jewish parents. I never heard from them the word mundane. At the Gentile school I attended, I learned it’s the reverse of religious. But, G^d is everywhere and always, so mundane doesn’t describe something that really exists. Everything is holy. (Though, true, some things are more holy than others.) Every religion I know about has this secular/holy dichotomy. Judaism not. For a Jew, everything we do has meaning because it’s done in the presence of G^d. And for a secular Jew, everything we do is an expression of our humanity and our Jewishness. Being Jewish is living around the clock in an awareness with long roots. Jews don’t long for or are hyper-focused on the World to Come. This is our world and life. Live it. Make it better for everyone now. Don’t worry.

NB: A Jew who’s angry with G^d is not an Atheist. This is an angry rapport but still a connection. Assimilation to Christianity sometimes makes Jews worried if they ‘don’t believe.’ However, Christianity is a Belief system, but Judaism is not. For us, a good Deed needs to take precedence over its Intention and Feelings. Only during and after the good Deed, do Intention and Feelings become the essence. And after a bad Deed, its Feelings become the essence too. Do we regret it, or do we justify or defend it?

The Judeo-Christian tradition may be a concept of value for Christians, a way to acknowledge their Jewish roots. But for Jews, it’s a contradiction in terms. The more we water down our Judaism, the lesser Jewish we are. For Jews, there is nothing redeeming (pardon the pun) in assimilation.

There is also something insulting in speaking about the three Abrahamic or Monotheistic Traditions. It claims that Jewish wisdom and awareness are equal to those Gentile assets. And, equality always sounds liberating, democratic, and respectful. Yet, it is good if your parents are your friends too, but they’re never just your friends. There needs to be extra respect for the sacrifices they brought for you, for everything they gave you for free. Jews are the parents of all Monotheists I’m aware of. That is one reason why the Holocaust cannot be equalized to any other genocide, nor Antisemitism be just one other racist supremacy. It is patricide and dishonoring parents by the leading cultures of Christianity and Islam.

Christians and Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, Sikhs, and other Monotheists are religious groups. If you don’t like the word religion, you can say groups with a joint worldview. But Jews are a Nation. A People with their own culture, teachings, traditions, and especially written sources and own languages and dialects. They may be members of every other biological race and national culture in the world. Then, there are many Nations. But, they are all circumstantial: a joint history, geography, language, food, culture, etc. If two people from two different Nations intermarry, that’s an enrichment. If they don’t, it could be from racism.

But the Jewish People is founded on a Divine Mission, to be a light to the other Nations. To teach. Jewish racism is not when we refuse to marry Gentiles. That would hamper our Heavenly Task in life. Jewish racism is when we refuse to marry a Jew from another nation than ours that bigots look down on. As teachers, we need to be humble, but that’s hard to maintain under fire. And, Gentiles need to respect and reverence Jews. Not for our sake but for their own well-being. Ungratefulness is a terrible and ugly thing to carry. We gave humanity the basis of Science, equality, democracy, Monotheism, etc. Do yourself a favor and ask knowledgeable Jews to evaluate your worldview, religion, and life’s priorities. And fight against anyone and any groups that threaten Jewish survival. Endangered rainforest trees might hold cures for terrible illnesses. There is wide sympathy for attempts to save them. Judaism holds wisdom all people may need. We could do with more enthusiasm to protect and secure Jews.

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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