My name is Jeffrey Radon, and I am the author of the internet site Orthoprax Judaism. By far most of my Jewish education has been in the orthodox world, and I identify very much with my orthodox background and lifestyle – I do not identify with an orthodox conception of Judaism.
My formal background
By far most of my Jewish education has been in the orthodox world, having studied over 10 years in orthodox Yeshivot (study academies) in Israel. In one Yeshiva I taught for a period of several years a course on the Hebrew Bible and issues of Jewish thought. I have a teaching degree as a teacher of Jewish studies from Achva (brotherhood) College, a small secular teachers’ college in Israel. I have a master’s degree in Jewish philosophy (from Bar Illan University in Israel). I also have a master’s degree in educational psychology (from the Israeli branch of Northeastern University in the United States), and certification as a marriage counselor as well as certification as a mediator.
Who am I? My personal background and orientation as a teacher of Jewish studies
Before I tell of my background and orientation as a teacher of Jewish studies, I want to explain why it is important for me to do so. There is no such thing as objectivity when it comes to human knowledge and judgment. In any presentation of material, there is always a twofold subjective process of selection and interpretation of material – and this is true by the way not only of social sciences and humanities but of natural sciences as well. It is important then to know of my background and orientation that influences both the selection and interpretation of material that I present as a teacher of Jewish studies in order to evaluate such material in a critical way. Less important to me is agreement or disagreement with material that I present, and far more important to me is to cause people to think and to broaden horizons – and especially to inspire to further study…
About the site
A brief description of this site
This internet site – Orthoprax Judaism – is devoted to Biblical and Jewish studies. The site is intended to be a study site in which people can study in a serious way about the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish tradition.
About this site – intended audience and material included on the site
This internet site – Orthoprax Judaism – is devoted to Biblical and Jewish studies. The site is intended to be a study site in which people can study in a serious way about the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish tradition. The site is obviously intended in the main, though not exclusively, for a Jewish audience. I hope that Jews of all backgrounds, across the spectrum ranging from secular to ultra-orthodox, will enter the site to learn about their tradition and heritage. I also hope that there will be non-Jews who will enter the site to study – the Hebrew Bible is a foundation not only of the Jewish tradition but of the western culture; and, aside from the fact that there may be non-Jews who are interested in learning about Judaism, in the material that I present as a teacher of Jewish studies I am dealing with issues of universal importance concerning religion (such as the issue of what it means to be religious)…
About the logo
The logo of this site is based upon a painting of my daughter of a tree with 7 circles imposed upon the tree. I added the Biblical verses (Proverbs 3, 17-18) surrounding the tree in a circle – “It is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and its supporters are happy, its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace”. The tree in the logo symbolizes that according to the Jewish tradition Judaism is a tree of life – organic and constantly evolving allowing Judaism to live, grow and flourish through time, while at the same time maintaining its identity through time. Both the number 7 and a circle symbolize peace and harmony – the essence of Judaism as a religion.
Regarding my teacher
In the Talmud (Pirkei Avot 1, 6), there is a teaching “Accept upon yourself a teacher (rabbi)” – and, in my opinion, the intent is not that we necessarily agree with everything that is taught by our teacher but that we identify with the intellectual and spiritual orientation or direction of our teacher. It is only very recently that I discovered the writings of Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin and his internet site. I discovered that my own views as a teacher of Jewish studies are very similar to those of Rabbi Drazin – and until discovering the writings and internet site of Rabbi Drazin I felt that I belong to the orthodox world without an orthodox rabbi with whom I identify. Even though I have not actually studied with Rabbi Drazin, and even though I arrived at very similar views as a teacher of Jewish studies to those of Rabbi Drazin in an independent way, I nevertheless now regard him as my rabbi and spiritual mentor. However, there is one important difference between us – Rabbi Drazin is a true scholar and I am not (and I say this not out of modesty but out of honesty). I am a teacher of Jewish studies and draw upon academic scholarship in teaching but I myself am not a scholar. Although I draw upon academic scholarship in teaching, the material that I present on my internet site and in my books is not presented in an academic way and not in an academic language in the hope that the material will be understandable to a wide audience including even those who have little or no background in Biblical or Jewish studies. For those who do want to pursue Biblical and Jewish studies in further depth and to learn from a true scholar, I highly encourage you to explore the internet site of Rabbi Dr. Drazin – his articles and books, though scholarly in nature, are written in a very readable style, and not in an academic language and convoluted style that is unfortunately (in my eyes) so widespread in the academic world: