John...I do not ascribe to any particular label
though yes I am generally progressive. But TBH just meant "to be honest"...
I go almost never to services these days, being that I am extremely turned off by tradition in general at this point and have been for the last several years, due to its intentional lack of engagement and relevance on certain core aspects of modern ethics (more on that below)...and due to the depressingly hard-core misogyny which I find prevalent even amongst those who vote like I do and hold similar political views. Some of it is generational but most of it is far, far more foundational.
I do still go to studies on ethics and mysticism (kabbalah), both of which I consider to be the heart of the tradition. But as to the former, it is intentionally outdated regarding modern society and that means as a tradition it is failing in its purpose and mission, which is to guide us in authentic love in being and doing, for ourselves and others equally. This failure goes for most other traditions as well.
I had to work for YEARS to get the local shul to use a minimally transliterated siddur so everyone, including visitors and guests and folks from other faiths, could participate in the main parts of the service. I cannot think of anything more offputting than to be shut out of participation. Finally they got the minimally transliterated siddur so that folks actually feel welcomed and included in the service but wow was that slog just unnecessarily grinding and exhausting.
I also feel it is horrid and vile for the black hat bearded orthodox gents to pointedly say nothing publicly in support of the many women experiencing rape and coercion, abuse, defilement, exploitation...and even outright trafficking of women and girls...even when the harsh reality brought forward by #MeToo presented itself as the opportunity to do the right thing. This is after the old bearded gents actually taking a positive and supportive position on behalf of Muslims being persecuted in the...due to the harsh US immigration policies presenting themselves as the opportunity to do the right thing.
Both of these situations spoke to the most fundamental "commandment" in Judaism, repeated multiple times throughout the biblical texts...that of supporting and standing for the most vulnerable in our societies (e.g., parsha Ki Tavo) -- welcoming and supporting and protecting immigrants, women and children, the ill, the elderly, and so forth. This is the heart of the faith -- that is undisputed.
Even though most in the other non-orthodox traditions of Judaism do publicly, openly, and strongly support these things and have done for decades...i.e., the dignity and parity of folks of other cultures and faiths AND of women...still, there was no strong public position taken at that time on behalf of women by the orthodox (no surprise) and not much really even by any of these much more liberal and progressive traditions within Judaism. So...it was really just deeply and foundationally disturbing.
The mystical tradition in Judaism is unparalleled for insight and truth, IMO. BUT in practice, we are confronting an ages-long blind spot...and the dark underbelly of misogyny is being uncovered in all cultures and all traditions.
Despite probably having millions of pages of commentary on ethics in concrete, proscriptive practice and recommendation, in regard to relationships and conduct, the lazy, contrived assumption is always that the vast majority are married from puberty till death -- but clearly that is a ludicrous, fanciful contrivance in the modern era which allow for "bro code" and "whatever" and lacks a moral and ethical centre from which to provide any guidance whatsoever in this area.
There is simply a lack of will (per the ubiquitous, universal "bro code") to address the iniquity of men in this area in the modern era and to take ownership of the need to take much clearer and stronger positions on conduct in relationship and sexuality outside of marriage. And to stop with the pretense that all men and women are married off shortly after reaching puberty, as in ancient times
I suppose what I'm saying is, it's not that important what we call "God"...and for that reason, what tradition puts forth is perhaps as good as any other -- or perhaps not
. As there should always be multiple views on any given topic...that is another clearly state and understood principle of the faith. Of course you may have your own private preferences in either case. And of course you can & should honour your own journey regarding how you relate to or conceive of What Is.
To me, however -- (per all my explanation about where lack is extreme i nour society, including in our traditions) -- what's ultimately important is how we honour the divine which exists everywhere and within each of us. How we honour the divine in our word and deed -- and TBH in our intent and thought.
Peace & blessings,