Date: June 13, 2019 09:52PM
When I wrote that "over 60 percent of American Jews do not self-identify as, in essence, 'believing in God,' what I [inelegantly] meant was: Over sixty percent of American Jews do not believe in [a] God who is, in essence, the "Big Guy In The Sky."
In the Wikipedia article "God in Judaism" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Judaism
, the last paragraph in that article says:
"According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, Americans who identify as Jewish by religion are twice as likely to favor ideas of God as "an impersonal force" [my addition: think 'gravity'] over the idea that "God is a person with whom people can have a relationship."
This quote is at least a large part of what I meant.
The facts on the ground are yet more complicated, though, because the Jewish conception of God covers about four thousand years of human history, and has been rethought and reconceptualized countless times over this period of time (because every Jew who is at all "religious" in a Jewish sense must re-think and re-conceptualize for themselves "what is God?"--and for a large contingent of Jews, this happens either a number of times over their individual lifespans, or--if they continue to study (which a significant percentage do)--the process is continually underway: day by day, week by week, and year by year.
Jewish children are taught a child's version of "What God Is" as they are taught the beginning fundamentals of Jewish observance (lighting candles for Shabbat, saying the blessings, etc.)--but kids grow up, and they become adults, and most Jews become parents, who begin this process all over again with THEIR children and their grandchildren, and as all of this happens, any given Jew's understanding is constantly evolving.
I have a [really good!!] textbook which was written for adolescent Jews (boys 13+, and girls 12+): THE INVISIBLE CHARIOT: An Introduction to Kabbalah and Jewish Spirituality, by Deborah Kerdeman and Lawrence Kushner, which--for those Jewish kids who haven't yet begun to question their childhood understanding of God--is intended to initiate that process, beginning with the "First Insight" on the beginning page of the text: "The World is a Gateway [means: to God]."
As kids (and adults; this is a truly fascinating intro to the advanced philosophical aspects of "Who Is God?," and is one of my favorite Jewish books) progress through this book, they learn how to critically analyze Jewish theology, Jewish thought, and the "library" of Jewish texts, written by the wisest and most knowledgeable experts, over the historical course of centuries.
If they are interested Jews, they will be doing this for all of the rest of their lives.
Although some (evidently: about a third) of adult American Jews DO believe in a "personal God," the other two-thirds are mostly always in transition, from one level of deep understanding to a yet deeper one--and all of these are in the direction of the Hindu concept of Brahman/the Jewish concept of Ein Sof.
There are a few exceptions. There are some Jews who, as late adolescents or as adults, decide to go in the other direction in their "spiritual understanding," and these Jews often join small Jewish communities in certain areas, which have these particular beliefs and practices, but these groups are a minority within Judaism, and this is (overall) fairly uncommon when compared to Jews as a whole.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/2019 10:05PM by Tevai.