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The Principles of Liberal Judaism

Many of us adhere to the principles of morality, justice, and fairness. Many of us wish to express a connection to Judaism in our lives, but not through institutionalized religion. The principles of liberal Judaism come to present a connection to the people, history, culture, and values, without a commitment to orthodox, rabbinical, and political religion

The principles:


Cherished is a person, as a human being, possessing the essential ability to independently shape their values and way of life.


Shall live by their faith. A person is entitled to safeguard human dignity and to protect it from governmental or societal harm. Man and woman shall live by their faith.


Your neighbor as yourself. The relationships between a person and their fellow must include moral obligations of expressing respect for the human dignity of others, everywhere, at all times, and in all circumstances. What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.


Equality. The relationships between members of any community, among themselves, and with others, must encompass fundamental principles of equality as an ongoing practical expression of human dignity.


Democracy. The shared lives of citizens within the state, as they are conducted within its constitutional arrangements, laws, and the decisions of state institutions and branches, must give a supreme status for upholding human dignity in an equal manner, across all domains. Every arrangement must be in the spirit of essential democracy, first and foremost by safeguarding human and citizen rights and ensuring justice and fairness, under the independent, practical, and constant supervision of the Supreme Court.


Neighborliness. Social and civil arrangements must include special protection for the dignity of individuals who are not Jews, but rather Christians, Muslims, Druze, Circassians, and any similar groups, protecting them from the majority's harm. It is always fitting to maintain strong relationships of neighborliness.


Compassion. Social and civil arrangements must give special status to vulnerable groups such as children, the sick, the elderly, homeless and unemployed people, and the like, especially in providing the necessary assistance in the basic aspects of human life.


Eliminating all discrimination. Social and civil arrangements must involve efforts to eliminate all discrimination between people, including the remnants of pre-existing discrimination based on gender, color, ethnic origin, religion, race, social status and the like.


Virtues. Liberal Judaism nurtures the values of courage, fraternity, responsibility, quality, education and knowledge expansion, honesty, and moral standards. Liberal Judaism opposes granting any aspect of reality (such as the people, the state, a specific person) supreme status in a way which always justifies harm to any other aspect of reality.


The Jewish Nation-State. Liberal Judaism views Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, whose supreme role is to bear the responsibility for the existence of the Jewish people within Israel and beyond, and to protect all prosecuted Jews, wherever they may be, without compromising the democratic nature of the State of Israel.


Being hospitable. Liberal Judaism views it as the duty of the State of Israel to open its doors to prosecuted and fleeing individuals, to welcome them, and to grant them and their families full human rights. Within a reasonable scope, concerns about damage to the state’s character are unjustified.


Jewish identity. The state must protect the civil right to define Jewish, personal, or communal identity, without imposing any religious doctrine on the lives of its citizens.


The state character. The character of the state’s Jewish way of life lies primarily in the accumulated character of decisions made by individuals in their own ways, including the expression of their Jewish identity. There is no place for governmental decisions, neither by the Knesset nor by any rabbinate, concerning the Jewish character of life in the state, excluding the recognition of Shabbat and holidays as days of rest.


Hebrew culture. People’s lives in Israel are embedded in liberal Jewish culture. This encompasses the rich array of cultural treasures, texts, and customs, born out of Jewish history from Bible and onward, in liberal interpretation; the rich array of Hebrew cultural treasures, and the rich array of works from global cultures that resonate with the spirit of liberal Judaism.


Peace. Liberal Judaism pursues peace and strives for arrangements of peaceful coexistence between people of different identities, both on the communal and the national levels. Seek peace and pursue it


Asa Kasher is a Prof Emeritus of Professional Ethics and Philosophy, Tel Aviv University

Editor in Chief, Hebrew Enc., 2nd ed.

Contributed by Prof. Asa Kasher to USA for Israeli Democracy

Translated from Hebrew by: Niva Kaspi


April 28, 2024

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