While JSLI is transdenominational, and students from all Jewish Denominations study at JSLI, Rabbi Blane’s philosophy is Jewish Universalist.
Jewish Universalism (JU) goes beyond religious tolerance, which is the condition of peaceful existence between adherents of different religions or religious denominations. JU believes that all humankind is under the equal consideration and love of G-d and we affirm that all paths to the divine are holy. As such JU rejects the concept of a G-d that would choose a favorite among G-d’s children. We assert that all people who follow the dictate to “love your neighbor as yourself” are “chosen.”
JU honors our Jewish rituals, traditions, teachings and texts and seeks to repair the world, Tikkun Olam, through acts of loving kindness, G’milut Hasadim. We can only accomplish “Tikkun Olam” by our unconditional acceptance of each other’s peaceful doctrines and we should never fear nor diminish in any way the paths of all peoples of the world.
According to Rabbi Blane, Jewish Universalism begins with the understanding that G-d, in all of his/her many names, is established, explained and communicated by “sacred myth.” This does not diminish our Torah and the sacredness of it’s writings. In this context, myths are sacred narratives and attempt to understand who we are and where we come from. We understand it was a composite document, edited around the 5th century C.E. by men and it contains similarities to myths or sacred narratives of other cultures.
Within the Jewish community there is a common history, a language of prayer (Hebrew), the Torah and rabbinic literature which allow Jews of significantly different world views to share many common values and goals. While traditional Judaism teaches that G-d chose the Jewish people to be in a unique covenant with G-d and were charged by the Torah to be a light unto the nations, this view does not preclude a belief that G-d has a relationship with all other peoples.
Biblical references as well as rabbinic literature support the Jewish Universalist view.
- Moses refers to the “source of the breath of all flesh” (Numbers 27:16) to appoint someone over the community of Israel.
- In the classic story of the prophet Bilam and his donkey, the Torah identifies and acknowledges a prophet outside the community of Israel.
- The Mishnah states that anyone who kills or saves a single human – not Jewish – life, has done the same to the entire world.
- The Talmud states: “Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come” (Sanhedrim 105a).