Identity, Religion

Hilchot Pluralism

Over at Mah Rabu, we have an ongoing series that documents and analyzes the pluralistic practices that independent Jewish communities are developing:

Jewschool readers: A lot of us are involved in Jewish communities that are pluralistic in one way or another. What practices has your community developed that haven’t been addressed in this series so far? What belongs in Part V and beyond?

4 thoughts on “Hilchot Pluralism

  1. We’ve sort of had this conversation but…
    I don’t understand the strong prejudice against stage directed davening. It’s treated like a problem to be solved, rather than a comfortable and comforting aspect of communal prayer. While I understand the preference of the author, I don’t understand the prejudice.

  2. On the 3rd stage of pluralism: it seems as though this is a way of trying to accomodate a certain group of people who have a lot in common in terms of thinking, spirituality etc. (Which is great.) I’m not sure that it is so different to any shule/minyan that tries to include a diverse range of people (without being stage 1 pluralism). My minyan is a shira hadasha type of minyan. We don’t say that we’re pluralist but we have different people in the community and sometimes we have to work out ways to accomodate different types of people. So for example, we don’t tell anyone whether to sit or stand, allow people to lead with their own nusach, don’t run the service too much, often people are following different minhagim at the same time (and in the same place). People dress differently (different tziut definitions, tallitot, some women wear pants and other people think women shouldn’t wear pants but still are part of the community). Our community doesn’t do everything that you describe but I think that is partially to do with having a different community to yours (partially that’s because we are not in america). So for example, most people in the community want to pray gender seperate and a big enough proportion to be important would not come if there was a trichitza.
    I imagine that many other shules/minyanim do this to a certain extent even if they do not call themselves pluralist.

  3. Stage directions, as you call them, are extremely necessary.
    1) There are points in the prayer where it’s essential–especially during the communal repetition of the Amidah, when congregants are supposed to be responding to the recitations of the shaliach tzibbur.
    2)It is the most efficient and least condescending way to allow those not familiar with the prayers to keep pace. Any other way would draw attention to them in an unflattering way, and it maintains a courteous fiction that everyone is at the same level of proficiency or lack thereof.
    3) It does not impede anyone from praying at their own pace–at least in all the congregations I’ve every prayed in, which are in the majority Conservative. In fact, the usual practice I’ve encountered is for the rabbi to wait for almost every one to finish the Amidah on their own, announce the start of the communal Amidah, and add that anyone who has not finished should continue to pray at their own pace, without regard to the congregation.
    And at all other points in the service, a person praying independently is usually not obviously doing so, so it’s not an issue.
    4) If participating in prayer with a community at the pace the community sets is an issue with you, why are you praying there in the first place? Either pray at home, or join/establish a minyan where praying at one’s own pace is the primary rule.

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