Culture, Identity, Religion

Edah Exits

Edah, an organization attempting to infuse energy into the Orthodox Left, is closing up shop.
While financial problems are being cited in part for their decision, Jewish movements in our day and age do not generally close because of financial problems only, nor does Edah claim this is the only reason for their decision to cease operations.
Perhaps part of the problem is that Edah often focused on a more political approach instead of a general theological one, and such an approach is better utilized by political groups with a specific agenda.
For instance, the Jewish Week reports that,

Kasirer [Edah’s vice president for leadership development] said the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance had worked closely with Edah and she hoped it would continue its advocacy for the inclusion of women. “They’ve done an incredible job,” she said. “Hopefully they will keep it going. There are quite a number of good organizations out there who can continue to work together [to further Edah’s work].”

But with all due respect to JOFA, perhaps what we really need is a broader approach than Edah provided, in part because of the restrictions of such alliances.
For some of us on the fringe of Orthodoxy, as opposed to those in the Conservadox or post-denominational camps, the issue of reconciling all the luggage of our ancient civilization with our present is not about demanding that halacha “evolve;” rather, it is about discarding.
We accept that the Torah is central to our civilization and our religion.  And we accept that rabbinic interpretation, a “mesorah,” is necessary to make sense of it all. 
But one important point where we deviate (and we do deviate, at least in theory) from Normative Judaism is over the notion that every new decree and custom instituted over the generations is essential to that mesorah. 
And this is where Edah proved too limited, and too political.
If there is going to be a vibrant Orthodox Left organization, it needs to be independent of popular political groups that bring specific agendas, and constrict the organization’s ability to act as an honest clearing house for exploration of a wide variety of ideas and discussions, both in function and reputation.   
The focus must be more on the questions, and much less on the solutions.
Or there will be less of the latter as well.

6 thoughts on “Edah Exits

  1. one day i was walking down the street in jerusalem and saw a hareidi guy carrying an edah tote bag. as i got nearer to him i noticed he’d blacked out part of the edah slogan with a magic marker. it thus said, to be modern and orthodox.

  2. Nor have I heard of Normative Judaism.
    But, hm…I’m actually kind of sad to hear this. Edah was a voice that I rarely got to hear in the charedi world. Granted, not all of what they preached translated into actual modern Orthodox practice, but vis-a-vis the velt, Edah was refreshing like a whole keg of Sierra Mist.
    Much like human organs, things can only be extricated from the mesorah by skilled individuals.

  3. I had one of those bags too — “The Courage To Be Modern And Orthodox.” But I crossed off all the words except “Courage.”

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