Yoga and Judaism Are Incompatible—But Not In the Way Menachem Wecker Thinks

Contemporary yoga culture fits in with the widespread sense of religiosity as something inner and instinctual rather than communal and tradition-bound.

March 23, 2020 | Tara Isabella Burton
About the author: Tara Isabella Burton is the author of Social Creature, a novel (2018), and of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World (forthcoming from Public Affairs in May). A contributing editor at the American Interest and a columnist for Religion News Service, she holds a doctorate in theology from Trinity College, Oxford.
This is a response to Shibboleths and Sun Salutations: Should Religious Jews Practice Yoga?, originally published in Mosaic in March 2020


In his Mosaic essay on Judaism and yoga, Menachem Wecker strongly urges faithful Jews to be wary of a practice that is now a ubiquitous part of the American culture of wellness and fitness. The reason: it is impossible to disentangle yoga’s current, secularized iteration from its millennia-old links to both Hindu and Buddhist spiritual traditions. Yoga teachers, Wecker writes, “indisputably employ a vocabulary, and inculcate physical positions, that derive from centuries-old religious worship”—the worship, in short, of false gods.

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