Sunday, November 22, 2020

Internecine warfare: Jew against Jew, for the 4,564 time :(

Once upon a time, there was a Conservative synagogue with a big, beautiful building but a shrinking membership.  In an effort to retain their home, the congregation tried to persuade a local Orthodox synagogue that was in similar straits to rent their chapel, with, of course, access to the main-floor bathrooms.  They even offered to build a separate entrance so that the Orthodox folks would not be seen entering a Conservative synagogue, heaven forbid.  But the Orthodox, presumably concerned about how they'd be seen by other Orthodox synagogues and organizations, declined the invitation.  In other words, they wouldn't even pee in our bathrooms.  :(  Please pardon that snarky remark, but I'm bitter.  As a result of the Orthodox synagogue's refusal to rent our chapel, we were forced to sell our big, beautiful building and build a much smaller replacement that doesn't have enough room for, say, a nursery school that might attract younger members.  As for the Orthodox shul, they may, technically, still exist, but they haven't held a service in probably at least a year.  It serves them right.  😠

Fast forward more than ten years.  I recent listened to a podcast, and, out of curiosity, checked out the website of the synagogue that had sponsored it.  Much to my pleasant surprise, I saw that the website of this Conservative synagogue, which is a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, includes a webpage for the Orthodox kehillah that meets in its building.  

This congregation is about as far "out of town" as you can get.  Why can't we do this in New York?  When I was growing up in a Conservative synagogue in south Jersey, we didn't have time for some of the nonsense that I've encountered in New York City.  I heard that we had one member who was Sefardi who attended our Ashkenazi shul because, frankly, where else was he going to go?  There were exactly three Conservative synagogues, one Orthodox synagogue, and one Reform synagogue in the entire county, and all of them were Ashkenazi.  And I never heard of intra-Ashkenazi prejudice until I moved to New York City when I was in my early twenties.  Litvak against Galitzianer?  A German-Jewish family scandalized because their daughter married a Polish Jew??  There aren't enough Jews in this world for this kind of nonsense.

Similarly, there aren't enough Jews in this world for Jews of different denominations to deliberately avoid one another.  Orthodox Jews--please stop looking over your right shoulder. 😢 

As for us non-Orthodox Jews, let's try to stop being so judgmental. 😢 

There aren't enough Jews in this world for divisiveness. 😢


Blogger Coyote said...

Excellent post, Shira!

By the way, *somewhat* off-topic, but can you please ask your first rabbi why exactly having the Reconstructionist movement adopt patrilineal descent was a deal-breaker for him but having the Conservative movement perform conversions that are not universally recognized was not a deal-breaker for him? After all, both of these things result in the same outcome--as in, the creation of Jews whose Jewish status is not universally recognized by all Jews. So, why was the former a deal-breaker for him but not the latter?

Tue Nov 24, 05:14:00 PM 2020  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I wish I could ask, but my first rabbi is deceased. :(

Tue Nov 24, 06:37:00 PM 2020  
Blogger Coyote said...

Sorry to hear that. :( May he RIP. :( When did he die and at what age?

Wed Nov 25, 08:37:00 PM 2020  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

He died in 2016. I'm not sure how old he was, but he and his wife had been married for quite a few decades.

Sun Nov 29, 10:38:00 AM 2020  

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