Israeli novelist Amos Oz advocated the pursuit of Cultural Judaism in a live, interactive satellite broadcast to Hillel professionals who met recently in Princeton, NJ.
Speaking from his home in Arad, Israel, Oz said that Cultural Judaism is a "way of life and a set of sensibilities that I find easier to recognize than define." He enumerated humor, justice and argumentativeness as Jewish "sensibilities."
Cultural Judaism preceded the creation of the first synagogue, Oz said. He pointed to the patriarch Abraham's argument with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the "anarchistic gene" that helps to define the Jewish people.
The address was the centerpiece of an afternoon plenary session called "Engaging the Majority: Exploring the Option of Cultural Judaism on Campus." The discussion included presentations from Rabbi Adam Chalom of Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, Mich.; Myrna Baron, executive director of the Center for Cultural Judaism in New York; rabbinical student Greg Epstein; and philanthropist Felix Posen. The broadcast of Amos Oz was made possible by the support of Mr. Posen.
Hillel Interim President Avraham Infeld said that Oz's discussion contributed to the lively debate on campus about different approaches to Judaism.