What Judaism is...
... and what it is not about
Judaism is about making a real commitment to serving HaShem in the best manner possible by searching within yourself for ways to bring yourself closer to the Creator.
Judaism is not about putting on an external show of piety and inwardly assuming that no self-improvement is necessary.
Judaism is about passing the Torah and it's teachings from one generation to the next, about educating all of our children in the best manner possible to ensure that Judaism lives another generation and that the Torah is observed. It is about seeing the inherent value in every student and transmitting the Torah to them in a way that will cause them to cherish and value it for the rest of their lives.
Judaism is not about excluding children from schools because they don't dress the way you dress, speak the language you speak, don't sit and learn all day (as opposed to going to work) or hold the exact same hashkafic values that you hold. It's not about catering only to the "super-learners" who have kollel futures while ignoring those who cannot or will not reach that lofty goal.
Judaism is about a community coming together, supporting one another in times of need and crisis and celebreating together in good times.
Judaism is not about looking down at your neighbors because they have a TV or because your neighbor's hat isn't as black as yours. It's not about keeping your children away from others who dress differently because you are afraid of your children being "contaminated."
Judaism is about going to Rabbinic leaders for advice on halachic issues or hashkafic issues or even general advice on life, love and relationships. It is about seeking out the best possible advice for any given problem that one faces in life.
Judaism is not about assuming that Rabbis have advanced medical or scientific knowledge in the absence of rigorous training in said fields. It's not about assuming that Rabbinical figures of today or yesterday are infallible or that their words represent the absolute truth.
Judaism is about living up to one's obligations, both personal and communal. It's about providing for our families and about setting up communal institutions such as yeshivos, mikvaos, tzedakas, etc. that serve the community. It's about personal responsibility - just as one is responsible to make sure that he gets up in the morning and davens, so too is one responsible to see to it that (to the best of his ability) his family is fed and cared for, nurtured both spiritually and physically.
Judaism is not about abdicating responsibility. It's not about finding out how many government programs you can cheat your way on to, it's not about finding ways to avoid paying taxes and it's not about relying on the community to carry you. It's not about abdicating your responsibilty to do due diligence when facing life's many problems. You can certainly ask a Rebbe which funds to put into your 401(k) plan - and take his advice into account, but you are also required to research the funds for yourself and consult with financial advisors.
Judaism is about learning God's Torah, disseminating it and living by it. It's about innovative thought in halacha and hashkafah; about seeking out new ideas and new insights into Tanach, Talmud, Midrash and Halacha. It's about applying the Torah to the world we live in, and learning how to live our lives according to it's teachings.
Judaism is not about stifling thought and ideas. It's not about issuing bans on books because they recognize that even the greatest human beings can have faults and flaws and may hold of opinions that aren't mainstream. It's not about banning new innovations that have the potential as we've never had before to spread Torah throughout the world. It's not about hiding behind ancient texts and living in fear that a new idea may threaten to destroy the Torah as we know it.
Judaism is about being part of an extended family. We are all cousins, being the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. Satmar, Lubavitch, Bobov, Gerer, Yeshivish, "Modern," LW, RW, etc. - we are all one extended family. Like many families we may not always agree on all issues, but we shouldn't forget that, at the end of the day, we *are* family.
Judaism is not about refusing to marry into certain families because of perceived faults or trivial matters. It's not about rejecting someone because of misdeeds performed by other members of the family over which the applicant had no control. It's not about telling someone that they are unsuitable for marriage because their parents use a plastic tablecloth or because he wears laced shoes instead of loafers. It's not about rejecting someone out of hand because of some external labels or because the family they come from isn't "good enough" without getting to know the person behind the label or the family.
Judaism is about sanctfying God's name in this world. It's about setting positive examples for both other Jews and the gentiles in the world. It's about causing people to have respect for God and His Torah. It's about outreach programs and charity. It's about being involved in the world around you and causing others to acknowledge the goodness of the Torah.
Judaism is not about profaning God's name in this world. It's not about silly inter- or intra-factional rivalries. It's not about throwing stones at cars because they drive through frum neighborhoods on Shabbos. It's not about starting riots because a person is arrested and possibly charged with a crime. It's not about strong-arming your policies onto everyone else.