"Judaism Without Tribalism is a blessing, a much-needed challenge, and a deep well of wisdom and sanity." —Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones
This book investigates Judaism at its best—and sanest. It strips away outdated and harmful beliefs that have accrued over the centuries and returns to the essential truths that are too-often ignored in favor of tradition, tribal identity, or the claims of the powerful.
The result is a vibrant Judaism for the 21st century and beyond—a Judaism that draws deeply from history and scripture yet addresses the unmet needs of the present and the future. It is a Judaism that is open and accessible to everyone.
Judaism without tribalism is a call to be a light unto the nations, and a blessing to all the people of the earth. It is a Judaism free from legalism and tribalism—a Judaism that refuses to serve patriarchy and power.
Written by one of today's most respected—and most unconventional—Jewish thinkers, Judaism Without Tribalism is a manifesto, an invitation to completeness, and a call for inner and outer spiritual revolution. It is also a deeply practical guide to living authentically, breath by breath and day by day.
Preface, Part 1: Tribe and Tribalism xi
Preface, Part 2: What Is Judaism Without Tribalism? xv
Part One: Religion
Chapter 1 Religion at Its Best 3
Chapter 2 Religion and Death 6
Chapter 3 God and gods 10
Part Two: Jews
Chapter 4 Who Is a Jew? 27
Chapter 5 God-wrestlers 38
Chapter 6 World Healers 44
Chapter 7 Lamed-Vavniks 52
Part Three: Judaism
Chapter 8 Beyond Tribalism 59
Chapter 9 Turning Torah 65
Chapter 10 Days of Reflection 71
Chapter 11 Joy and Grief 89
Chapter 12 Reminders and Remembering 108
Chapter 13 The Way We Walk 115
Part Four: A Manifesto
Chapter 14 Judaism Without Tribalism: A Manifesto 141
Appendix I Zionism and the State of Israel 143
Appendix II Jew-Hatred 153
Appendix III Jesus 161
Appendix IV Advice for Congregational Rabbis 167
Further Resources 177
About the Author 181
"Judaism Without Tribalism is the best book I ever read. I say that every time Rabbi Rami writes a new book--and it's absolutely true. He is a master teacher full of love, wisdom and a reverent irreverence that illuminates both mind and heart." —Dr. Joan Borysenko, New York Times bestselling author of Pocketful of Miracles and many other books
"Easy to read, yet deep and challenging in its wisdom, this book will become a bible for many who have rejected various Jewish orthodoxies but still know that there is a depth of wisdom in Judaism that they do not want to discard." —Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and author of the bestsellers The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal, and many other books
"I have been a fan of Rami Shapiro's for over three decades and his gifts to the world are considerable. Judaism Without Tribalism is quite possibly the jewel in his crown, a brilliant culmination of his work to repair and return us to the profound mystical depths of the ancient Jewish tradition. Crisp, cogent, utterly lucid, this book is, as its title suggests, a blessed relief for all true seekers." —Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, PhD, author of Wounds Into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma, The Woman's Kabbalah, and other books
"Rami Shapiro calls on us to question authorities of our time, within Jewish life and in our broader world, identifying the sacred precisely in what others see as 'strange.'" —Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg, co-hosts of the Judaism Unbound podcast
"Rabbi Rami is a great mystical teacher." —Andrew Harvey, author of The Direct Path and many other spiritual books
"Rabbi Rami fuses intellect, passion, and humor in a beautiful and powerful way that radiates truth." —Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart and many other spiritual books
"An influential religious leader confronts Jewish tribalism in this spiritual guide.
As a rabbi, contributing editor for Spirituality & Health magazine, podcaster, and author of more than 30 books, Shapiro (whose public persona is simply 'Rabbi Rami') is perhaps one of the most recognizable public faces of contemporary Reform Judaism. In this book, he continues a lifelong career of promoting an accessible, theologically liberal, and inclusive brand of Judaism by providing a succinct 'manifesto' for 'Judaism without tribalism.' While acknowledging the tribal origins of Judaism, the author is less concerned with parsing 'Who is a Jew?' (which, to him, is anyone 'who claims to be a Jew') as he is in articulating 'Judaism as a more open, welcoming, and universal path for Self-realization…and world repair.' Carefully blending an erudite analysis of Jewish Scripture and a firm grasp of Hebrew linguistic nuances with an approachable, humorous writing style, this concise volume is designed to be 'pondered rather than digested.' Eschewing 'mainstream Judaism,' the book not only rejects Orthodox notions of an orderly universe shaped by God’s divine will, but also suggests that even YHVH (the Hebrew name for God) is best understood as a verb ('to be') that also manifests as Tao, Allah, Brahman, or Nature itself. Most important to Shapiro is that Judaism is 'irrelevant' unless it fulfills its duty to be 'a blessing to person and planet' and 'a light unto the nations.' In addition to its intriguing reevaluation of Jewish orthodoxy and scriptural analysis, the book deftly weighs in on contemporary issues germane to Jewish identity, from antisemitism to Zionism. The volume’s backmatter includes a hilarious and practical manual for congregational rabbis based on the author’s two decades of experience, reminding them, for example, to 'stop praying as if it’s 1255' and to slowly sip coffee before impulsively speaking during congregational meals. Orthodox Jews will, of course, bristle at the work’s progressive spirituality, universalization of Judaism, and critiques of tradition. But the book succeeds in its mission to 'make Judaism accessible to everyone' by providing a Jewish lens that could be of use in the spiritual journeys of Jews and non-Jews alike.
A compelling, progressive reorientation of an ancient faith." —Kirkus Reviews
"With precision derived from decades of immersive experience and devoted thought, Rabbi Rami Shapiro investigates the diverse branches of Judaism to reveal a creative path that is open and accessible to anyone.
In many ways, Judaism without Tribalism is a love letter, illuminating how to remain rooted in one’s religious identity even when it is imperfect. With passion, Shapiro explains the core Jewish values of returning to one’s true nature as a manifestation of divinity (teshuvah) and helping repair the world to a more compassionate and sacred state (tikkun). He breaks down seemingly complex traditions into meaningful practices for developing spiritual connections and living in a way that eschews self-centeredness.
In other ways, Judaism without Tribalism is an account book and sharp critique of the dysfunction and argumentation within Jewish denominations that prevents Jews from living into these two core values and precludes non-Jews from discovering the beauty within the tradition.
With his characteristic sharp wit and irreverence, Shapiro outlines the strengths and pitfalls of religious thought in general. He then chronicles the complex history of Jewish people, describes the essential elements of practicing a vibrant Judaism, and, in the end, makes a solid case for how everyone can benefit from engaging in teshuvah and tikkun, whether one is Jewish or not.
Shapiro’s powerful manifesto is a timely and valuable roadmap for an age fraught with ideological division, hatred, and violence. Judaism without Tribalism offers contemplative thought-starters and practical advice for how to invent a better future for all people in the human family." ―SARAH BOWEN, Spirituality & Health magazine book review