My inbox is filled with emails about the Noachide Movement (aka B’nai Noach), most recently an article by Gordon Haber in Killing the Buddha.
Noahides are, according to Haber, gentiles who believe that Judaism is the true path but that they don’t have to be Jews to follow it. Thus they refer to God as “Hashem,” study Torah and Talmud, and follow a kind of halakhah-lite—the Seven Laws of Noah, as opposed to the 613 mitzvot for Jews.
If you want to Build-A-Noachide, you need a few basic ingredients:
- A Christian who has lost faith in the divinity of Jesus
- A passion for Judaism (especially Orthodoxy)
- An utter disinterest in becoming Jewish
An honest question: if you enjoy celebrating Shabbat, studying Torah, learning Hebrew, meeting to discuss Talmudic ethics and making sweet promo love with Chabad-Lubavitch, then why not skip the B’nai Noach middle man and become Jewish?
To become a Christian, one simply decides to have faith in Jesus. To become a Buddhist, you simply “take refuge” to the Buddha, his teachings and community. Islam: one phrase, and that’s it.
Judaism takes a year at least. There’s hurdles to jump through, classes to take, an entire culture to absorb, and even then, you’re a ger tzedek and even though technically no one is supposed to point out you’re a convert…well kid…you are.
So I’m wondering whether the B’nai Noach movement is really about Judaism’s conversion-prevention-stigma. We’re so obsessed with being the religion that “doesn’t proselytize” that we have driven people to create a New Religious Movement that’s basically Judaism-lite.
I guess it comes down to this: if a group of people want to believe Jewish, study Jewish, pray Jewish and do Jewish, yet have to make a new religion that is not Jewish…then what does that say about Judaism today?