What is Judaism?

November 19, 2017

‘I’m conservative.’

‘I’m orthodox.’

‘I’m reconstructionist.’

‘I’m humanistic.’

‘I’m reform.’

‘I’m just Jewish.’


Judaism is not simply packed away and fit inside a box. It is not defined strictly by any set of rules or expectations. It dons kippot, and then it doesn’t. It wears tzitzit, but it never put on one. It wraps tefillin and it never will. It is men, women and children. It is black and white. It is gay, straight, bisexual, trans, queer and gender non-conforming. It loves God, curses the name, and isn’t sure if He exists. Judaism is plural. Judaism is singular. Judaism is you, it is me, it is us.


We are Judaism. We are action. We are Tikkun Olam. We are the very world which we seek to repair.


Judaism is community. 


Judaism is not one-size-fit-all.


Taking part in BINA’s post college program was my test to myself of where I stood in my Judaism. I grew up conservative and and at some point started to question what that really looked like. This allowed me to have a much more critical look as to what that means and not be in this sort of box.


Judaism is loving Israel. Loving Israel is challenging it; to be better, to be what it ought to be, to look as we wish to see it.


Every time I came [to Israel] previously I left saying like, ‘I love this place, this is amazing’ I think participating in Tikkun Olam was also partly a test to see if this would be a possibility or something I would want to follow through on. I think the experience left me with more questions than answers.


I met one of my friends from college who has been living in Israel for three years and she talked about this idea of loving Israel but loving it and accepting the bad things. It brought up all these questions about how could you love something so much that you want to support it knowing all the bad things that happen?”


Judaism is ever-adapting, ever-growing, ever-evolving.


Ethan Gutmann-Goldstein worked as an intern in BINA’s International and External Relations departments during his time on BINA’s post-college program.  Ethan is 24 years old and came to us from Philadelphia, via St. Louis where he connected to his Judaism through a Jewish A Cappella group. 


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