Originally published 4/28/08, 1:20 pm. Link no longer works.
The following is a most interesting article on a distinction, presented by the author, between compulsory and voluntary presentations of Judaism or Jewishness.
The author concludes that what is needed is a mixture of the two. What is so strange about this conclusion is the perception that accepting Judaism as compulsory or voluntary is a choice.
If it is compulsory, it is in fact a decision not based on choice but on external forces that impose this perception of reality upon someone. Rather than describing a distinction between compulsory and voluntary Judaism, the author would have done a more important service in attempting to define why someone wishes to define himself/herself as a Jew.
That may also bring one back to a discussion of whether one feels compelled to be Jewish or simply chooses to be Jewish but in attempting to define the basic motivation for Jewishness, there is greater potential for discussing the issue and describing the underlying motivations for any type of Jewishness.
Rabbi Ben Hecht