Why does it seem like Jews are so liberal?

I had a few classes with Jewish students this past semester and most of them are open to gay marriage and abortion. They said that they were raised in a liberal background. What makes their faith so open to these evils? I would think that they would align with Christians and Muslims that those things are wrong. Anyone know what makes their beliefs so fundamentally different?

Hi StratusRose!

Hmm, it would appear that you’ve never talked to an orthodox Jew like myself. Traditional, normative Judaism is orthodox (orthodoxy being a far broader spectrum than many non-Jews, and many non-orthodox Jews, seem to realize; see jewfaq.org/movement.htm#US for a good summary on orthodoxy & the other, so-called, “movements” within Judaism). The Reform, Conservative & Reconstructionist “movements” are newfangled movements that developed in Europe, in reaction to the Enlightenment. They have junked so many core Jewish beliefs and, in effect, make it up as they go along, influenced by whatever happens to be trendy at the moment & taking care to be “politically correct”. This is Judaism??!! I grew up, as I like to say, de jure Conservative but de facto nothing. I looked at what the Conservative movement offered & was thoroughly underwhelmed & unimpressed. Orthodox Judaism is all-encompassing and supplies a deep emotional commitment & spiritual food for the soul. Orthodox Judaism believes that the Torah comes from God; the Reform movement does not. The Conservative movement tries to straddle a middle ground that does not exist. If one does not believe that the Torah is from God, then what’s the point? Judaism is not, and never has been, an everyone-for-him/herself religion. Orthodoxy recognizes that there is a certain set of core beliefs that are immutable & which serve to bind all Jews everywhere, much as they have for thousands of years. Take Shabbat (i.e. the Sabbath, see jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm), most of the observance of which the Reform movement has junked altogether (I guess they ignore Isaiah 56:1-2 and 56:6-7) & which the Conservative movement has made “optional.” An early Zionist writer wrote, about this binding set of core beliefs & norms which I’ve just mentioned, “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”

Roman Catholicism & orthodox Judaism (despite our rather obvious differences) have much in common. Our views on many ethical & moral issues are similar. But beyond that, ours are faiths with rules, with authority & structure & with discipline. Ours are not make-it-up-as-you-go-along faiths & never have been (I suppose Protestantism & Reform Judaism are like that). Rather than mold the faith to fit the individual, I think that we believe that it is the individual who must mold him/herself to fit the faith. The late former Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Lord Immanuel Jakobovitz (of blessed memory) once said that a faith which demands nothing is worth nothing. To be an orthodox Jew demands a great deal & I have learned to be a Roman Catholic is similarly very demanding.

Orthodox Judaism strongly opposes gay marriage (see ou.org/public/statements/2004/nate9.htm).



Regarding our views on abortion, I quote from a book I have on the (orthodox!) Jewish approach to various medical issues by Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich:

“Judaism regards the killing of an unborn child to be a serious moral offense. An abortion may be performed only for the gravest of reasons, and even then, only subsequent to consultation with a competent [orthodox] rabbinic authority…The life of the mother takes precedence over that of the unborn child. Thus, when ‘hard travail’ of labor endangers the life of the mother, an embryotomy may be performed in order to save her…The fetus’ right to life is subordinate to that of the mother, and hence the life of the unborn fetus may be sacrificed in order to save her…The performance of an abortion may be warranted for purposes of preserving maternal health as well as maternal life. No [orthodox rabbinic] authority permits an abortion which is non-therapeutic in nature. There are early rabbinic authorities who expressly declare that ritual laws such as Sabbath observance and fasting on Yom Kippur are suspended in order to preserve the life of the fetus. Suspension of such significant religious observances is clearly incompatible with indiscriminate license to destroy fetal life. Both the argument that a prospective mother may seek an abortion for any reason because denial of this right would interfere with her ‘right to privacy’ as well as the argument that the decision to abort is entirely a matter between a woman and her physician must be rejected as incompatible with Jewish teaching…Judaism teaches that man does not enjoy unrestricted proprietary rights with regard to his own body, much less so with regard to the body of an unborn child…The Talmud teaches that embryo is endowed with a soul at conception. Moreover, the Sages taught: ‘There are 3 partners in the generation of man - the father, the mother and God.’ Accordingly, a decision to terminate pregnancy is not one which is within the exclusive domain of the mother…It is well established that the quality of life to be anticipated if the fetus is carried to term is not, in itself, a sufficient reason for the performance of an abortion…Physical or mental abnormalities do not affect the human status of the individual or his right to life…Most authorities rule that termination of pregnancy resulting from rape is not permissible. However, the immediate post-coital contraceptive measures undertaken prior to fertilization of the ovum present a different but complex Jewish-law question. Immediate removal of the semen by means of a suction device…would be warranted.”

Thus, normative (i.e. orthodox) Judaism absolutely rejects abortion as a means of birth control. I certainly object to government funding for abortions that are non-therapeutic in nature.

Jewish law says that once the mother has begun to give birth, her life no longer takes precedence over the fetus & thus killing the fetus, even if ostensibly to save the mother, would, at this stage, be cold-blooded murder & thus absolutely forbidden. No orthodox rabbi would ever sanction an abortion if the mother has begun to give birth or if the doctors said that the fetus is viable, regardless of the mother’s wishes.

We completely reject vigilante violence against doctors, nurses, etc. who are involved in abortions (as well as inciting to violence against them) & to bombing clinics. Opposition to non-therapeutic abortions must be carried out within the bounds of the law.


Be well!

ssv :wave:

Awesome responses! Thanks a lot!

[left]God bless the Orthodox Jews! I hear it is one of the fastest growing religions around, because it offers something where the others offer nothing. At this juncture in history it seems somewhat amazing that there was ever so much enmity between Jew and Catholic, for we sure all need to stick together now! [/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]There is a little more to this, though. Many Jews became completely secular in Europe and here in the US, and took up revolutionary ideologies in place of religion, so that has a lot to do with the consistently liberal attitudes now. An interesting book on the whole radical-Jewish experience include “Radical Son,” by David Horowitz and “Commies” by Ronald Radosh. (Not that all Jews are communists but many of the ones you have spoken with probably have some radicals in their ancestry. I know I have a few in mine.) Makes for very interesting social history.[/left]

SSV, thank you for reminding us that just as we cannot say with certainty that all Christians believe or behave in a certain way (sadly), neither can we say it about all Jews.

I believe if we had a better understand of Orthodox Jewish law about family purity it would go a long way to illuminating the moral issues surrounding marriage, sex and childbirth. I realize this topic is usually only discussed with the couple at the time of marriage, and not really a matter for a public discourse, but if there is some of this wisdom you can share with us, it would be of great value.

stillsmallvoice http://forums.catholic.com/images/statusicon_cad/user_offline.gif vbmenu_register(“postmenu_342327”, true);
Regular Member

THANK YOU, You would be welcome to be my neighbor.

Many Jews in the USA do not have a high moral stance. Just look at the rubbish coming out of Hollywood, the film makers are what I call Secular Jews. They dont care if they damage your children as long as they make a buck.

I think I know one of the reasons it seems that way…

What do you call a child of Catholics who stops believing in God?

  • an atheist

What do you call a child of Muslims who stops believing in God?

  • an atheist

What do you call a child of Jews who stops believing in God?

  • a Jew

The crossover between ethnicity and religion makes for a messy situation. Cradle-Catholics-turned-atheists kept calling themself Catholic, it would seem like there were a ton more pro-choice Catholics than there really are.

Great responses on this thread. The above though is on point as being Jewish seems more of a “legacy” than a belief system. IOW if your mother is Jewish, so are you. It doesn’t take study or commitment or anything. You are a Jew. Many of the more liberal groups are basically secular. I recall once to my horror a Jewish man spoke about his work, operating a Jewish home for seniors. He waxed long about following the Bible and at the core of his mission was “Honor thy father and they mother…” saying all of the residents were his father and mother. He then got off on a tangent about abortion and said “We’ll never convince those pro-life nuts so we just have to continue to outvote them.”

Being the shy sort I piped up and asked him about Deuteronomy 30:19 and he said it didn’t apply…guess he was “reformed” right? Lucky he wasn’t ‘reformed’ in his mother’s womb.

Lisa N

Hi all!

Caroljm36, you posted:

…for we sure all need to stick together now!

Quite right!

Exporter, you posted:


You’re welcome.

You would be welcome to be my neighbor.

And you mine!

Puzzleannie, the following is in response to your question:

Orthodox Judaism takes a very positive view of both procreational and recreational sexual relations between a husband and wife, in the context of a loving marriage and as per the Torah’s laws on “family purity.” Lemme explain.
From Exodus 21:10, our Sages teach that a Jewish husband owes his wife three things: food, clothing & sexual relations. Indeed, the Jewish view of sex is that it is the wife’s right & the husband’s obligation to meet that right and NOT the other way 'round. Our Sages teach that when a husband & wife unite in the act of love, the Divine Presence rests upon them. Recreational sex can, and should be, one of the ways that a husband & wife become closer to each other (figuratively; the literal is obvious) & deepen their mutual love and respect for each other (the respect part is crucial). Thus, it is a positive Torah precept even for a couple which cannot bring their own biological children into the world (i.e., one or both partners are infertile) to have sexual relations (such as described above) on a regular basis. The positive Torah precept to procreate is something else.

Ecclesiastes 3:5 speaks of, “A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” Our Sages teach that King Solomon is referring to the Torah’s concept of “family purity.” In short (based on Leviticus 15:28, among other verses), with the onset of a wife’s period, she & her husband immediately cease not only sexual relations, but all physical contact whatsoever. For both the 5-days (5 days is the minimum) of her menstrual flow and (as per Leviticus 15:28 ) for seven continuously clean days thereafter, she & her husband refrain from any & all physical contact and should take care not to be in a state of undress in each other’s presence. After nightfall, after the 7 day period is over, the wife goes to a mikveh (a specially made, ritual bath/pool; see photos at tinyurl.com/5vu4u) and, after completely disrobing & taking off all jewelery, immerses herself while saying the following blessing: “Praised are You, Lord our God, King of All Creation, who has sanctified us with His precepts and commanded us regarding immersion.” She immerses herself in the presence of a woman attendant who makes sure that even her hair is under the surface of the water. When she goes home, she & her husband may resume physical contact & sexual relations until her next period.

At least some of the water in the mikveh MUST be natural, i.e, rainwater, melted snow, etc. (Technically, a woman can immerse herself in any natural body of water but she she MUST be 100% naked & the immersion can ONLY take place after dark, this is generally impractical in the extreme. Thus, 99.99999% of woman regularly use a proper, kosher mikveh (i.e. one that was built, and is maintained, under orthodox rabbinical supervision.) A bride goes to the mikveh for the first time in her life on the night before the wedding.



By obeying the Torah’s relevant precepts on this matter, we take the sexual act and invest it with sanctity and make it holy (in much the same way that keeping kosher, saying the blessings before & after meals, etc. invest the act of eating with sanctity and make it holy). Speaking from direct, personal experience, this system is absolutely marvelous. First of all, it teaches the husband that his wife’s body is not his toy. It helps teach him restraint (do we control our passions and appetites or do they control us?) and respect for his wife as a woman & a person. It helps prevent a couple from becoming bored with each other over time. It helps prevent this most unique and intimate form of interpersonal communication (so unique and intimate that the Torah reserves it for a husband and wife ONLY) from becoming routine, mundane, humdrum, trite, etc. It is like having a mini-honeymoon every month throughout their life together & helps ensure that this aspect of a married couple’s relationship is fresh and exciting, always. It helps, no, forces, a couple to, during the 12 days’ time when they may have no contact, develop ways other than the physical for expressing their love & respect for each other; if sex is the major glue keeping a couple together, that marriage is in trouble.

Animals copulate; only human beings can make love. If a husband and wife do not treat each other with constant respect and devotion, then we become no better than animals that are driven and ruled by their urges & impulses.

There’s a story that a rabbi & his wife were just getting into bed one Friday night when the rabbi heard a strange noise. He looked around & found one of his students hiding under the bed. Enraged, the rabbi put on his shorts, yanked the student out from under the bed, clamped him in a headlock & began dragging toward the door. “What were you doing under our bed?” the rabbi cried. “I’m supposed to learn Torah from you,” the student replied. “So!!!” the Rabbi asked. “Well,” replied the student, “what you and your wife were about to do is Torah.” The rabbi then did two things. He congratulated his student on being 100% correct…and then chucked him out.

On a more…mechanical…note, technically, a husband & wife can do pretty much whatever they like together. However, a husband and wife should always keep Leviticus 19:2 in mind, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel and say unto them: 'You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” Even during sexual relations, especially during sexual relations, a couple must keep in mind this positive injunction to be holy.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are strongly frowned upon and not permitted. (Orthodox) Judaism believes that homosexual, lesbian, bestial and non-consensual heterosexual acts (even in the context of marriage) are inherently sinful at all times and in every context.

My impression is that the popular media in the US (and Israel, where I’ve been living for 18 years) offers a very skewed and warped view of sexuality in that it divests this sacred act of its inherent holiness, and demeans, cheapens, trivializes it, and changes it into something mundane and trite. It is also horribly demeaning to women & exhibits them as one would a side of beef; it portrays women not as people but as the sum of certain body parts. (Please! I do not advocate censorship!!! What I don’t like, I don’t watch & don’t let my children watch.) Pornography takes the foregoing to the extreme. (Orthodox) Judaism believes that our inherent nobility, worth & beauty as people are not predicated on the subjective attractiveness of our bodies.


Be well & be in touch (I probably won’t be back online until Saturday evening.)

ssv :wave:

wow, I knew some of this teaching but never heard the full explanation so beautifully before. wonder if Karol W studied this as he was developing his Theology of the Body, because he sounds as if he were grounded in this beautiful, divinely inspired view of human sexuality.

Thank you for your charitable manner and discretion in this thread.
This thread is now closed.

God Bless,

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