Cultural Judaism

Cultural Judaism

Cultural Judaism, although often confused with Secular Judaism, is a stream of Judaism that encourages individual thought and understanding in Judaism. Its relation to Judaism is through the history, culture, civilization, ethical values and shared experiences of the Jewish people. Cultural Jews connect to their heritage not through religious beliefs but rather through the languages, literature, art, dance, music, food, and celebrations of the Jewish people. It is a pillar in the ideologies of Habonim Dror.


The following is an example of how a Cultural Jew would approach a particular custom or law in Judaism, in this example kashrut:

  1. Go back to the source(s) and find out why it is done
  2. If you agree with what the source(s) are saying and therefore find meaning in the practise, then kashrut has just become not only a meaningful Jewish practise in your life, but has also caused you to look deeper into Judaism and probably helped strengthen your Jewish identity.
  3. If the source doesn’t appeal to you, can you find an alternative Jewish source to help you out with another way to practise some form of kashrut?
  4. Is there a non-Jewish source that could help you out with your dilemma?
  5. If the whole practise is devoid of meaning, or you are against the practise for any reason – then don’t do it any more. But at least you will have enriched your Jewish knowledge and hopefully your Jewish identity.The implications of the choice are these: If your family decided to change their Shabbat activity from a Friday night.


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