How Does Spinoza Affect Being Jewish

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Spinoza’s Effect on Being Jewish If you were to ask the average educated person to name the Enlightenment thinker who had the greatest influence on modern society you would probably hear the names Locke, Jefferson, Rousseau, Voltaire or Descartes. But in fact many modern philosophers will point Baruch Spinoza as the most influential member of the Enlightenment movement . Spinoza changed how people looked at God, nature and the universe. Spinoza was a proponent of liberty and democracy, while at the same he had high criticisms of religion and the clergy, who he thought possessed too much power. Because of his thoughts on religion, Spinoza was excommunicated in 1656, not by the Catholic Church where excommunication was common for so-called heretics, but by the Jewish community in Amsterdam. Although his community abandoned him, Spinoza never renounced his Judaism, by doing this he changed the definition of being Jewish. By still considering himself Jewish, Spinoza cleared the path for secular Judaism . For the first time, people could call themselves a Jew without practicing the religion; he started the shift of Judaism from an ethnicity based solely on religion to a unique culture that…show more content…
They moved out of their ghettos and adopted the common language; some even became financiers of entire nations . Many Jewish writers supported assimilation, like Judah Gordon who commanded the Jews to, “Become an Enlightened people, and speak their language… Be a man abroad and a Jew in your tent .” Gordon, like many contemporaries, thought that Jewish isolationism was the cause of all their toils and that Jews must give up their public traditions to gain full access to society, while at the same time maintaining their beliefs in private. Not all Jews in Europe, however, were convinced that assimilation was the best route; many believed a Jewish nation was their only
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