Thursday, May 18, 2006

My reaction to a DovBear post & comments re abuse of children & women by rabbis

From the comments to DovBear's Tuesday, May 16, 2006 post, "Why the J-Blogosphere Matters," concerning rabbis who abuse children and women:

"Sick about how the great ethics of our outstanding faith have been hijacked and subverted by pious jackasses for their own selfish purposes." Me too, I'm sick of it as well. It's a sad sign of the times- fundamentalist strains of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have risen quickly in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My generation is obsessed with being "more" everything than our parents, at the sacrifice of some of the best "lesses." More strict, more strigent, more holy (or so we think), more wealthy, all they while- less tolerant, less compromising, less loving. Sadly in this pursuit of fundamentalism, I think we are truly beginning to miss the whole point. katieb 05.16.06 - 6:08 pm "

"more wealthy, . . . " I'm sick of the materialism of the Conservative Movement, as well. I'm sick of Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations that are as fancy as weddings used to be. I'm sick of weddings at which the flowers alone, roughly a decade ago, cost $900.

"I think we are truly beginning to miss the whole point."

On the other hand, sometimes, we do get the point. I'm proud of the acts of kindness and justice that we do as a people, and hope that they continue. I'm proud of the American Jewish World Service's work to try to prevent further slaughter of the innocents in Darfur. I'm proud of the Satmar, with whom I disagree about almost everything, for their work in bikur cholim, visiting the sick. I'm proud of the West Side Minyan, which just gave a Bat Mitzvah girl a gift of $180 to be donated to the charities of her choice.

Balance is as essential to Judaism as to every other religion. Ritual cannot replace common human decency, lest we become little better than animals who can read. But neither will derech eretz alone enable a religion to survive. We need to cherish both the Shabbat and everything that our tradition tells us was created during the other six days of the week.


Blogger Deep in the City Walls said...

I have just stumbled upon your blog and will bookmark it, as I find you eloquent, insigntful and witty. I agree with both you and DovBear, about the State of the Religion and the so-called Leaders (who, in my opinion lack Leadership). When did a life-cycle event that symbolizes a young persons' ascent into maturity and the Kahal become a contest about pomp and pageantry? Why have we lost the focus of these events, the weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs - and instead pay attention to the trappings and the shell, instead of the meaning and the essence? I'm totally frustrated by what I see too. And disgusted. And really disassociated from my community.

Tue Sep 26, 02:11:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Welcome aboard, and thanks!

There's a lot of nonsense going on in the name of Judaism. But there's a lot of good out there, too. Keep your eyes peeled for ways that you're comfortable getting involved, such as visiting the sick (bikur cholim), and collecting food and/or clothing for the less fortunate. Keep in mind Hillel's saying, "Al tifrosh min hatzibbur, Do not separate yourself from the community." Even though I'm davvening at another synagogue most of the time lately, I'm still editing my own shul's quarterly bulletin and serving on the board and Ritual Committee. You might try to find a way to have a say in the way that simchas/s'machot/happy occasions are celebrated--some communities have rules limiting expenditures. Try to think of something that you can do to improve your community, or at least make it more tolerable for you. Or at least, find a forum in your community for expressing your dismay at the way that things are going. Perhaps you can drum up support to change some of the things that you don't like.

G'mar Chatimah Tovah--roughly translated, May you be sealed for a good year in the Book of Life.

Wed Sep 27, 07:28:00 AM 2006  

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