*Is Jewish renewal Orthodox Judaism? Reconstructionist? ...?
Jewish renewal is non-denominational (sometimes referred to as trans- or post-denominational) Judaism. It
honors the important and unique role of each denomination, but does not seek to become a denomination itself.
Because of its emphasis on direct spiritual experience and mystical or Kabbalistic teachings, Jewish
renewal is sometimes referred to as Neo-Hasidic or Four Worlds Judaism (a reference to the "four worlds" of Jewish mysticism).
While we seek to restore the spiritual vitality characteristic of the Hasidic movement of pre-war
Europe, we believe, along with the Reconstructionists, that Judaism is an evolving religious civilization.
Is this "New Age" Judaism?
Not really. Jewish Renewal is sometimes referred to as "New Age" by people who do not know that
meditation, dance, chant, and mysticism have been present in Judaism throughout the ages and not, as some mistakenly believe, patched on to Judaism from other
cultures or made up out of whole cloth.
Sadly, some of our authentic, time-honored beliefs and practices have been lost to assimilationism,
leaving many contemporary Jews largely unaware of them.
This is a major reason why so many spiritually sensitive Jews have sought spiritual expression in other
faith traditions. It is an important part of ALEPH's (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) mission to make the "hidden" treasures of Judaism known and accessible to these seekers.
Where does Jewish renewal come from?
Paradigm shifts in Judaism go back as far as the destruction of the Second Temple and the transition from
the Priestly Judaism of the Temple Cult to the Rabbinic tradition that has evolved up to present time.
Other major shifts have occurred in response to the various upheavals such as the Expulsion from Spain,
the Enlightenment, the founding of the Hasidic movement, the emergence of Reform/post-halachic Judaism, the trauma of the Holocaust, etc.
The current phenomenon called Jewish renewal traces its roots to the Havurah movement, feminism and other
late 20th century phenomena, but primarily to the work of Rabbis Shlomo Carlebach, z"l and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z"l. Both Reb Shlomo and Reb Zalman were
trained in the Lubavitch Hasidic movement and later left it to found their own institutions, ordain their own students and plant the seeds of renewal
LISTEN as Reb Zalman z"l Explains Jewish Renewal
Those interested in an extensive history of Jewish renewal should read Godwrestling, Round 2, a chronicle of this movement by R. Arthur Waskow.
*written by ALEPH staff and taken from the ALEPH website.