Perceptions of Modern Judaism

The Coffee with the Cantor sessions this year will focus on the Perceptions of Modern Judaism, primarily by the non-Jewish world. Click here to go to the discussion: Perceptions Forum

How are  Jewish customs and rituals perceived in the Christian and secular world of North America? This year we will investigate various practices and discuss both the internal (Jewish) reactions to them and the external (non-Jewish) reactions.

This is a preview of the topics to be covered this year in the weekly meetings of Coffee with the Cantor. Each session will take place on Wednesday, from 11-12 at Beth Shalom. Sessions will be led by Hazzan Rob Menes. Every session includes texts gleaned from books, periodicals, and the Internet.

“Judaism is filled with rituals and customs which have been maintained for thousands of years. Unfortunately, wherever and whenever we settle, these rituals often conflict with secular and non-Jewish society. This year, Hazzan Menes will explore those practices which raise concerns in the secular world and make living Jewishly as much of a challenge as a joy.”

  • Who is a Jew? Who defines who and what we are? The Jew in relation to the non-Jewish world (2)
  • Kashrut: Meaning and Jewish Perspectives; Christian Perspectives (3)
  • Shabbat: Christian and Muslim Perceptions; Orthodox/Conservative/Reform Observance; Recent Responsa (3)
  • Burial and Mourning: How are Jewish rituals handled by the non-Jewish world?
  • Conversion: Jewish views on conversion; Attitudes towards proselytes; Christian views on conversion (2)
  • Intermarriage: Jewish views; non-Jewish views (2)
  • Divorce: Jewish history; contrasts with non-Jewish views; contemporary problems (2)
  • Circumcision: Jewish and non-Jewish views (1)
  • Israel: How is it perceived by non-Jews? As a religious state? As a secular state?
  • Summary (1)

The goal of the discussions is to create greater awareness of Jewish rituals, both in their similarity and in contrast to the non-Jewish world.

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