Why are we Jewish?
Actress and Activist Noa Tishby shares her views on Rational Ethical Spiritual Judaism
View all videos on The Ollendorff Center YouTube channel.
These 10 Principles establish why Jews should believe in Judaism:
- Judaism teaches us that all human beings are created in the divine image and therefore are linked to God by the Divine Spark within them.
- Judaism teaches us how to nurture the Divine Spark within us, elevating us in moral worth and dignity and linking us to The Divine.
- Judaism rejects intermediaries. It is never the responsibility of any one individual to determine and define our lives. We can learn from a great many individuals, from prophets and sages to ordinary people.
- Judaism teaches us that the revelations of God cannot be limited to one document, person or time. Life, knowledge and reality are alive and changing. Therefore, Judaism cannot be bound by any particular text without the possibility of modification. The improved status of women today is one result of this perspective.
- Judaism teaches us that ritual without ethics is not only fruitless, but idolatrous and anti-religious. Ritual serves the purpose of implementing and embodying the ethical and spiritual dimensions of Judaism. Ritual should never be a substitute for ethics or charitable acts.
- Judaism teaches us that the world is a work in progress. Judaism is a call to creativity — a call to make ourselves, our society and the world into something better.
- Judaism deeply values the search for truth. It is a religion of strong ideals and ethical and spiritual principles.
- Judaism teaches us that the severest consequence of evil doing is that it separates one from God. Such isolation not only becomes a spiritual death, but it ultimately destroys one’s creative potential.
- Judaism teaches us the importance of embodying democratic values and stresses the significance of education towards fulfilling our mission.
- Judaism teaches us to fulfill our obligations and our promise as a people. It compels us to see the world with all its faults and teaches us that its evils and injustices are a call to make the world a better place and to engage in charitable acts of loving kindness.
The Ollendorff Center
The principle mission of the Ollendorff Center is to increase awareness of the fundamental issues facing the Jewish people through a series of educational programs, award-winning documentaries (including the First International Peace Award at The Venice Film Festival), national conferences and global outreach programs.
Of paramount concern is Judaism itself. Despite more than 60 years of Jewish immigration from Europe and Russia to the U.S., there are fewer Jews today than there were at the beginning of the Second World War. The intermarriage rate in America is now over 50%. Three fourths of America’s Jewish children will not receive a Jewish education. Intermarriage and indifference have created a crisis that threatens our very existence. In the last ten years, between 500,000 to a million Jews have opted out of Judaism by either no longer identifying as Jews or by adopting another religious identity. Today, the question we must ask ourselves is not “How should we be Jewish?” but rather “Why should we be Jewish?” It is through our broad-based spectrum of projects that the Ollendorff Center seeks to provide answers for living a spiritual, ethical and rational Jewish life and present practical solutions for a modern Judaism.
STEPHEN A. OLLENDORFF
Stephen Ollendorff’s principal interests today are fulfilling the mission of the Ollendorff Center and other philanthropic and humanitarian causes.
Vice President / Trustee
Bjørg Ollendorff co-founded the Ollendorff Center in 2001. Bjørg is the Executive Producer of Award Winning Documentaries. Bjørg has served as President of Chavurah Beth Shalom of Alpine, NJ.
Angelica Berrie is President of the Russell Berrie Foundation, Board Chair of The Center for Inter-Religious Understanding and Co-Chair of the Jewish Funders Network. She is co-author of “A Passion for Giving: Tools and Inspiration for Creating a Charitable Foundation.”
RABBI JACK BEMPORAD
Theologian / Trustee
Rabbi Bemporad is Director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding.He is also Director of the John Paul II Center and Professor of Interreligious Studies, at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), in Rome.
Lewis is currently Chairman of SCC Corporation, a tech consulting firm advising public and private firms on investment banking, mergers, acquisitions and forming strategic alliances.
The Ollendorff Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation founded by Stephen and Bjørg Ollendorff in 2001 The trustees of the Center are Angelica Berrie, Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Bjørg Ollendorff, Stephen A. Ollendorff and Lew Solomon.
All of our materials are available to the Rabbis or Administrators of any Synagogue, School, Community Center or Organization who wish to use them within their educational system.