Three Questions: Orthodoxy's Power, and After

By Yehudah Mirsky

The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, June 30, 2008

Modernity assumed that reason, democracy, and autonomy would ultimately triumph and eliminate those cultures rooted in a strong sense of religion, traditionalism, and ethnic belonging. The political events of the last twenty-five years have called this thesis into question. Currently, Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all predicting growth among their most fervent denominations. Is the rise of religious fundamentalism worldwide, Jewish Orthodoxy in particular, a backlash against modernity or does it suggest something more complicated about human nature? More specifically, how is this more tribal trend connected to modernity and in what ways has modernity contributed to this new development? This piece explores how Orthodox Judaism in the face of rising secularity and modernity, continues to survive and win adherents. The piece finds that Orthodoxy provides answers in terms of what people can know, what they are supposed to do and what they can hope for in life. The piece concludes by affirming the need to look at Jewish Life beyond the terminology of Orthodoxy, and other limiting terms, which fail to capture modern balances between freedom, faithfulness, autonomy and authority.

Topic: Peoplehood, Tradition, Faith, Orthodox Judaism, Belief, Modernity, Religion

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Israel , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

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Bibliographic Information:
Mirsky, Yehudah. Three Questions: Orthodoxy's Power, and After. The Samuel Bronfman Foundation. 30 June 2008: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=5241


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