“Being Jewish Today: Confronting the Real Issues” by Rabbi Toby Bayfield— Modernity and Judaism

Bayfield, Tony Rabbi. “Being Jewish Today: Confronting the Real Issues”, Bloomsbury, 2019.

Modernity and Judaism

Amos Lassen

British rabbi Tony Bayfield looks at the impact of modernity on the Jewish community today in “Being Jewish Today”. He shares the journey of millions of women and men through today’s difficult world and explores the meaning of Jewish identity and its relationship to Jewish tradition and belief from the perspective of a person fully integrated into the modern Western world. He asks tough questions about his Jewishness, Judaism and the Jewish God and we see that these are the same questions that asked by those of all faiths and by those who have no faith. 

Rabbi Bayfield begins with an account of the journey of Jewish people and thought from ancient times to the present day, then considers Jewish identity, Israel as land and anti-Semitism. He then looks at Torah: Halakhah – practice, and Aggadah – ethics and the matter of belief in a world that is facing global extinction. He then explores the widely evaded questions of universal suffering and divine inaction. “

The book draws on key religious and secular thinkers who contribute to his argument. This is a book for all Jews, religious or cultural, and to anyone who is curious about the nature of Judaism and religion today. The writing is filled with the rabbi’s humanity and it is filled with insights and challenges for non-Jews, as well.

Here is a thoughtful and inviting statement of what it means to be a Jew today and is totally relevant. Rabbi Bayfield shows us how to understand Judaism now that science and modern sensibility have changed how we look at the world. I felt that he was writing specifically to me as he reflects on “the universal dimensions of Judaism and those parts concerned with Jewish identity”

“Rabbi Tony Bayfield CBE was Head of Britain’s Movement for Reform Judaism and is Professor of Jewish Theology and Thought at Leo Baeck College, London. Britain’s leading liberal Jewish theologian and the author of several pioneering books on the theology of dialogue between the three Abrahamic faiths, he is one of only three Jews to have received a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity.”