Quaker Universalist Conversations

Isn’t That Peculiar

With this post we begin our October conversation about Judaism and Quakerism. Friend Clem Gerdelmann is a member of Chester (PA ) Monthly Meeting and a contributor to QuakerQuaker and Springfield Patch. He will be sharing a series of posts with us this month.

The heavenly-directed way, often misunderstood as the earthly history, of Judaism and Quakerism is quite comparable. For the roots of Judaism are found in a wandering Aramaean, whereas Quakers find their origin in a seeking Englishman. Abraham left his pagan homeland to follow the call of monotheism, whereas George Fox left his family to follow the Light of Christ. The Jews resisted harsh treatment in Egypt before leaving for a Promised Land, whereas Quakers stood up to militant imperialism before finding a Peaceable Kingdom.

Wenceslaus Hollar, Abraham’s dream
Alas, it took the destruction of the Temple for Jews to value their synagogues and Protestantism for Quakers to silently meet in worship. So what can be said at this point: succinctly, that Quakers, as Jews, have always been a peculiar people of God; enlightened to search for unity even as they experience displacement; finding truth by cutting away the foreskin of male-dominated society; and treating people, in jubilant egalitarian-redistribution, as Friends and not slaves. But, perhaps most peculiarly, holding business accountable to the requirements of worship.

Personally, and exclusively, submitted by Clem Gerdelmann

Image from Our Abraham, Not Theirs by David P. Goldman


I have been struck by the fact that neither Jews nor Quakers pay much attention to the ‘afterlife’. Nominally Christian, Quakers tend to differ from mainstream Christians in that we don’t focus on ‘salvation’, or getting to ‘Heaven’. Both Jews and Quakers tend to prioritize the spirit of the Message and trying to practice or adhere to it in this world -especially in service to others.
Doug, I agree. I cannot speak as a Jew, but I sense in both biblical Judaism and the “primitive” Christianity of early Quakers a recognition that “salvation” is already present in this life for those who live the Message.
In the Thursday Tampa Bay Times, October 3rd, Robyn Blumner, a Jew, wrote a piece entitled "What Being Jewish Means." It is a very good place to start a solid conversation. Quakers and Jews come together on many issues, more sectarian than religious. Check it out. Herb Snitzer, a Jew who attends St. Petersburg (FL) Monthly Meeting
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