Rabbis are pluralistically ordained at JSLI and may or may not elect to participate in the JU (Jewish Universalist) movement.
The Philosophy of Jewish Universalism at JSLI
At the Jewish Spiritual Leaders’ Institute (JSLI), while we are trans-denominational and welcome students from all Jewish denominations, our guiding philosophy aligns with Rabbi Blane’s vision of Jewish Universalism (JU). This inclusive approach to Judaism resonates deeply with contemporary spiritual seekers and scholars alike.
Core Doctrines of Jewish Universalism
Jewish Universalism espouses seven key doctrines, each reflecting a profound commitment to inclusivity and spiritual evolution:
- Honoring Jewish Traditions and Tikkun Olam: JU deeply respects Jewish rituals, traditions, teachings, and texts, emphasizing the repair of the world (Tikkun Olam) through acts of loving kindness (G’milut Hasadim).
- Divine Inspiration of the Torah: In JU, the Torah is regarded as divinely inspired and sacred.
- Creedal Foundation: JU’s foundational belief is the universal declaration, “Hear, O Israel (and Humankind), the Lord is God, the Lord is One.”
- Equality of All Spiritual Paths: JU acknowledges that all paths to the divine are equally sacred and that no single religion holds the monopoly on truth.
- Universal Chosenness: JU upholds the belief that all who adhere to the principle of loving one’s neighbor are “chosen.”
- Judaism as an Evolving Practice: It recognizes Judaism as a continuously evolving spiritual journey.
- Inclusive Worship and Rituals: JU invites people of all backgrounds to participate in Jewish worship and rituals.
Beyond Religious Tolerance: A Universalist Perspective
Jewish Universalism transcends mere religious tolerance. It advocates for the equal consideration and love of God for all humanity, asserting that every path to the divine is sacred. JU challenges the notion of a deity favoring one group over another and promotes unconditional acceptance of diverse peaceful doctrines.
Rabbi Blane’s Interpretation of Sacred Texts
According to Rabbi Blane, Jewish Universalism starts with understanding God through various sacred myths. This perspective doesn’t diminish the sacredness of the Torah but views it as a part of a broader tapestry of sacred narratives that help us understand our origins and purpose.
Common Ground in Jewish Community
Despite differing world views, the Jewish community shares a common history, prayer language (Hebrew), the Torah, and rabbinic literature. These elements unite Jews with diverse perspectives under common values and goals. While traditional Judaism emphasizes a unique covenant with God, it does not negate God’s relationship with all peoples.
Biblical and Rabbinic Support for Jewish Universalism
Biblical references and rabbinic literature bolster the Jewish Universalist view:
- Moses speaks of the “source of the breath of all flesh” (Numbers 27:16) in a universal context.
- The story of the prophet Bilam acknowledges a prophet outside the Jewish community.
- The Mishnah’s teaching that saving or taking any human life affects the entire world.
- The Talmud’s assertion that righteous individuals from all nations share in the world to come (Sanhedrin 105a).