Skip to main content

Anti-Reform Reformers?

I'm really struggling with this one.

During a recent public (and mixed, meaning there were people there who are not Jewish professionals, or better yet, professional Jews) discussion on the relationship between Judaism and nature, a professional Jew who is affiliated with the Reform movement commented on witnessing Reform Rabbinic students at the top of Mt. Sinai during a sunrise tefillah. Many of the students wore tefillin, all wore tallitot/kippot, and all were facing east. Except that *Jerusalem* was to the *north,* yet they were facing *east.*

I heard much derision in the commentator's voice: the voice/words implied they were worshipping the sun and not praying to God, they were obviously ignorant of the fact that Jerusalem was to the north, they were obviously ignoramuses ... leading the audience to infer that the Reform movement is being led by a bunch of ignorant, uneducated morons.

Here are the questions I'm struggling with.

1. Why were these Reform rabbinic students facing *east* and not north? Were they - as was implied by this person - facing the rising sun b/c it was a glorious sunrise and they wanted to watch? Were they ignorant of the reality that Jerusalem (the direction we Jews are supposed to face during tefillah) was towards the *north,* not the east? Did they know and not care - and if so, why not?

2. Why would a Reform professional publicly deride Reform rabbinic students?

3. If derision was not intended, then why tell the story, emphasizing the *Reform* nature of the students?

4. Does it matter, should it matter, should we *care* when our Reform colleagues appear to be making basic Judaism 101 errors (i.e., facing east and not towards Jerusalem during tefillah)? Do these things make Reform Jews look foolish? Or just the Reform professionals who are doing them?

5. Why do some Reform clergy/professionals remain within the Reform movement if they believe - or give the appearance that they believe - that the Reform movement is made up of a bunch of ignoramuses who are simply looking for "Jew lite" or "feel-good Judaism"? Why not move "el al," onward and upward to something more on their own level of observance and (supposed) knowledge?

I think #'s 2, 3 and 4 are the bigger issues. And I struggle with these things.

Comments

BZ said…
In any case, Jerusalem is northeast of Sinai. More north than east, yes, but unlike Muslims, Jews have never been all that particular about getting the direction of prayer exactly precise (one of the few things that Jews are *less* obsessive about than other religions).

Popular posts from this blog

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.


Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.


Elul 23: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:50 (Begin)

Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?

Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision. 

Even  בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).

We're about …