Education

The Enlightened Jewish Thinker: A Draft Collection of Essays
by Daphne Drohobyczer, Staff Writer

The Enlightened Jewish Thinker is separate from The New Jewish Thinker. The Enlightened Jewish Thinker is a book, or manuscript that is intended to be published as a text on its own. While The New Jewish Thinker is a website that also contains a version that is posted of the work The Enlightened Jewish Thinker. This book is a works in progress for a working draft of The Enlightened Jewish Thinker. You will find a conglomeration of essays flirting with different topics that are important and relative to Judaism. Jewish writing has an intention, a motive, and an issue. The basis of Jewish writing has a purpose, a goal, and some form of an opinion, expression, and Jewish thought. Often times this might be a churn of some previous topics. Regardless, these topics are always interesting and more often than not, fascinating.

A Historical and Literary invitation to The Enlightened Jewish Thinker presents itself to the Jewish community on both an academic and personal level. From Maimonides to Einstein, we confront Jewish thought on many levels. As the author for The Enlightened Jewish Thinker I will struggle with both ancient and modern texts. Everything from Jewish Philosophy to Modern Art is inclusive in our own Jewish studies and interests. I strive to welcome Torah interpretation, book and music reviews, interviews, Rabbinical thought, personal experiences, biography, interfaith relations, the Israel question, intellectual discussion, Jewish Philosophy, Jewish and Israeli Literature, Political Science and Jewish education. All of this includes Jewish thought. This is basically the building block for a monotheistic religion: Jewish thought.

How does one discern between Jewish thought and non-Jewish thought? Jewish scholars, both Jewish and non-Jewish are able to utilize Jewish Thought as long as one has Jewish education, such as a convert who can be inundated with Judaism from their own scholarly pursuit. Someone who was raised Jewish may find themselves alienated by Judaism. When deconstructing Judaism it comes down to what people claim. If a genetically non-Jewish person who studies Judaism can back up their Jewishness with historical evidence or a strong knowledge of Judaism now has the breath of the religious construction and therefore practicing Jewish thought is a part of them. In other words, a non-Jewish person may display other scholarly Jewish traits, lending themselves to being Jewish. For instance, Reform conversion may only take one year, while conservative Judaism requires several years, and Orthodox demands many years for the conversion to be official.
I think that one could have Jewish thought after some scholarly and historical training. Often times, a convert may even more closely adhere to the tenets of Judaism than the average Jew. Converts are a necessary part of Judaism so that we can move forward to a time when people will be less genetically Jewish but still keep a scholarly movement alive.

Judaism is safe for the next 200 years because all of the outreach well-funded organizations who have with Jews both inside and outside of the community. Of course, there is a healthy dose of converts scattered throughout the Jewish diaspora, many of whom seek Judaism on their own, along with those who convert keeping their spouses in mind.
Regardless Judaism fascinates both Jewish and non-Jewish scholars around the world. As a group that makes up less than one half of one percent of the world, they draw the interest of a great number of professors and students alike. That is why I am in full faith that Judaism will be alive for a very long time; however, in 2000 years, I think that Judaism will be a scholarly movement, still hanging on to some scholars who are studying the religion and historically the nation that they once were.

Personally, three out of my four grandparents are Jewish. I am apart of the nation, yet I am watered down genetically; more and more Jews are genetically less Jewish than before. People are testing their genes and discovering that they are either less Jewish or more Jewish than what they think. Jewish thought pervades Temples, Synagogues and Shuls. 

 

Currently, the Jewish population is still vibrant, with educational initiatives abounding among the young and old alike and finding to spark curiosity and further searching among Jewish-curious people who may eventually convert to Judaism. We need this Jewish-curious population to keep Judaism alive. More and more people are finding out about Jewish ancestors through testing their genes and subscribing to ancestor search apps such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
There is an overwhelming conversion process that weeds out non-Jews who are not really apt to Judaism. Yet, one could make the argument that “claiming” could be the way into Judaism, except this is not the way Talmud would see this particular crux of the path to conversion.

I am officially “Jewish by birth”; however, with all of this post-modern jargon, what does that mean? I know this much: I was born in Istanbul, Turkey to a Jewish Turkish mother and a half-Jewish Polish and Russian father. However, some people may not consider my half-Jewish father to be Jewish. His mother was a Christian and his father was a Jew. Judaism could only be assigned to a person if their mother is Jewish; however, most Jews believe that either a mother or a father is genetically sound enough to claim Judaism. My father’s parents met at a Russian work camp during World War II. My father’s parents met there when my father’s father, my paternal grandfather had escaped Poland during WWII. My paternal grandparents moved back to Poland after the war ended, and my father lived in Poland as the middle child of three sons who all went to Yiddish Jewish school. My dad was in Poland from the age of six and a half till the age of nineteen, where my paternal grandfather was a process engineer in Poland in Israel director over new construction in Jerusalem.
Work camp people were not free there he initially was a worker, and later an accountant of the camp because of his beautiful handwriting. They put him to work as a letter writer to Diplomats.
Later in Poland, my grandfather, Dolec Drohobyczer was a partner in a winery; one of the wines was called “written with a stick.” At the age of nineteen, my father made Aliyah to Israel with his dad and brothers; his parents divorced at the age of thirteen. Dolec’s second wife also divorced him. Yet, he did well for himself. My maternal grandparents met at Ataturk’s Turkish lessons in Istanbul, Turkey. My maternal grandfather, Izak Kohen, and grandmother, Esther (Romano) Kohen, met in Ataturk’s Turkish lessons, and they met with Ataturk one day when they were at the beach. Mustafah Kemal Ataturk paddled his boat towards my maternal grandfather; he saluted Ataturk and pushed his paddle boat into the ocean. My paternal grandfather was a book keeper. Izak would walk down the street and to the synagogue and pray every shabbes. They bought Kosher meat until their daughters went to college.

My parents met at a kibbutz in Jerusalem, Merhavia; my mother was waiting tables and my father was milking goats for six months in this Atheist language kibbutz where my parents met. My mother went on to be a student at Betzalel Art Academy, and my father went on to be some sort of dilletante. During his years in Tel Aviv, my dad attended a junior college for engineering called “Oert( org of working effort) Givatayim.” They established trade schools that taught different trades. Then, my mom helped him transfer to Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey, where he finished his undergraduate and completed his Master’s degree. My mom worked with archaeologists and architects in Israel and Turkey.

My father wanted to move to the United States of America, where his brother lived with his wife. My dad applied for a student visa and obtained that while he applied to Duke University, Cornell University, and New Mexico State University. He was admitted to all three, yet, at the time, only NMSU offered full tuition remission with stipend as a teaching assistant. At the age of eleven months, the three person family, we made our way to Las Cruces, New Mexico. My sister was born there. Regardless Judaism fascinates both Jewish and non-Jewish scholars around the world. I am in full faith that Judaism will be alive for a very long time; however, in 2000 years, I think that Judaism will be a scholarly movement, still hanging on to some scholars who are studying the religion. 


Jewish claiming for the level of Reform Judaism takes one year of celebrating all of the Holidays considered important in Reform Judaism. Conservative is existing as the medium balance, while Modern Jewish outreach where I experienced this at Washington University, Hillel, Chabad, the orthodox rabbi group talks helped me to stay in the Jewish community and why I decided to become more observant; however this is only on the conservative level.  
The Orthodox presence at some of the top universities were able to spread “Good Jewish Will” and succeeded to recruit so many Jews, that even those Jews that did not consider themselves “Orthodox” still chose to live life in the fold as a result of free programs to enjoy Shabbat dinners, Birthright – the free trip to Israel, and various types of Jewish social events and education.
Starting to learn how to read and speak Hebrew was a long, drawn-out process; however, once I made the vow to continuously learn Hebrew the burden lifted with a commitment to learn and explore Hebrew as a language and as a puzzle presenting itself as initially something shrouded into something relatively challenging and yet Neanderthal – like. This caveman quality of Judaism made things a lot easier, but that is not easy. The first time that I tried to learn Hebrew was in the 7th grade; I was in training for my Bat Mitzvah and I was a very immature middle schooler. I could not keep up with my Hebrew tutor and was a Bat Mitzvah drop out. From then on, I would take Hebrew lessons here and there, including a crash course in reading through a modern orthodox shul, classes at the Jewish Federation, and finally, I am learning Hebrew online through the St. Louis County Library’s web site, and I paid for a class at a conservative synagogue to learn from a woman who holds lessons both in reading and modern Hebrew so that I can keep up with my studies. I reinforce the online learning by practicing each lesson at least twice. Still, I practice reading Hebrew with several different texts.
My desire to travel to Israel for an extended stay stems from the fact that I was born as an Israeli Citizen in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. In 1980 there was a government restriction on Turkish citizenships if the father of the baby was not Turkish. My father was an Israeli citizen, but, ironically, I received an Israeli citizenship since my mom scrambled to prove that her mother was Jewish so that I could obtain an Israeli citizenship as soon as my birth took place.
In the fourth grade, my Israeli grandfather said that he wanted to pay for me and my sister’s trip to visit him in Jerusalem. My mother was against this for the main reason that I would be recruited for the Israeli Army*, or Tzahal, around the age of eighteen, if I step foot in Israel before then; this was a very real danger. For this reason, I have never been to Israel; however, I displayed some signs for mental illness starting at the age of nineteen. Because of this, I could be turned down from the army, but I could be placed as a volunteer; something else that I do not want to do. I have a triple citizenship, and the Israeli government sometimes officially requests that citizens do a volunteer corps into your thirties. Anyways, I at the age of 38 am hoping I will be exempt from all forms of the army and will have the ability to visit Israel with no worries of being drafted to any form of the army. I would be an ezra oleh,or returning citizen even though I have never been there. This is rather complicated and I realize I should go to the Israeli Consulate to see what I have to do to be exempt or any measures that I have to take in order for a safe trip.

Published by Daphne Drohobyczer ---------------
 See also Author Bios

--------------
I have worked at the publication of every school I have been to since middle school. The main schools that I graduated from are MICDS (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School) and Washington University in St. Louis. I enjoy writing beyond any other hobby. I am excited about having more people join The Jewish Thinker. I look forward to what can develop from an online blog called The Jewish Thinker. First things first, we have to have things move along with the blog Depending on its success, who knows what the future holds. Perhaps we should include ads and pull from a budget and try to break even between the budget for a non-profit and ads.
Management Team
  • Founder:
    Daphne Drohobyczer 
  • Website Designer:
    Richard Gavatin
Board:
  • Max Brown
  • Daphne Drohobyczer 
    Richard Gavatin
    Jamie Glaser
    Ralph Graff
    Marvin Marcus 
  Team Members and Writers 
  • Carol Battle
    Max Brown
    Daphne Drohobyczer 
  • Larry Friedman
    Richard Gavatin
    Jamie Glaser
    Ralph Graff
    Berta Hyken





  • Margaret Israel
    Roz Kohen
    Ben Levin
    Lottye Lyle 
  • Marvin Marcus
  • Joyce Olshan
    Carol Rose
  • Paula Sparks 
  • Marla Zimmerman
Read our disclaimer

© Copyright 2022 The New Jewish Thinker - All Rights Reserved