Originally published 2/23/08, 7:54 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
It seems that every generation has its own set of challenges.
About 100 years ago - Judaism was superseded by many Jews - by Marxism/Communism/Socialism etc. It was THOSE isms that would bring about the Millennia! =- i.e Peace on Earth and all that optimistic stuff.
But it does not end with Socialism. In the Western World, most Jews genuflect to Secular Liberals as uber alles. While others go further and add Feminism or Egalitarianism to supersede Judaism/
Perhaps the most Jewish of isms to challenge Judaism is Zionism. Vesechezena Eineinu bechuv'cha leZion berachamim. Certainly Zionism is a genuinely Jewish ideal. The issue though is, Does Zionism become the be-all and end-all of Judaism superseding all the OTHER aspects?
Now that post-Zionism is upon us, we have even NEWER isms to supersede Judaism. There is of course the Kabbalism of the fringe groups that include Esther/Madonna. But even more indisious is Meshichistism or, applying an old fashioned word - Messianism. Unfortunately , the is not a brand new ism, but rather a recycled one. The idea that a human Messianic savior could supplant or fulfil the entire Torah was posited in the 1st Century CE, probably NOT by the Nazerene himself but by such apostles as Saul/Paul etc., culminating with the Nicene Creed.
But it did NOT end there. There was the Messianism of Bar Kochabe and Shabettai Zvi, to mention a few. Did it end there? Apparently not! There are STILL Jews who are more focused upon the Messiah than upon Judaism.
I would submit that there is only ONE ism to trump Judaism and I call it "Torah-ism." When you stick to the Torah, only THEN can you supersede "Judaism" per se.