Remind me again why the 2nd temple was destroyed…
There are those among us Jewish Israelis, whether we define ourselves as traditionalist or secular-as-Stalin, who cannot abide Reform Judaism and those who choose to practice it.
Inherent in the hatred of Reform is the assumption that even the most pork-stuffed of the secular know authentic Judaism when they see it, and a fraud when they do not. They can somehow divine lack of commitment and observance in Reform, even when they themselves do not study, do not practice, do not believe.
Fundamentally, the ridicule of Reform ignores the fact that all over Israel, Jews raised in Orthodox homes have become active members of Reform and Conservative congregations because they believe both in religious Judaism and in equality for women within Jewish observance.
I suspect that much of the scorn directed toward Reform Judaism reflects a certain frustration over the inability of many Israelis to feel a part of any congregation, Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. For many, the gulf between secular Israeli culture and the available forms of organized religion has yet to be bridged by liturgy and customs that speak to the non-religious.
Oddly, the anti-Reform venom in us seems to seep out most strikingly at this time of the year, those 10 days beginning on Rosh Hashanah, during which the Gates of Repentance are briefly open, and secular Jews the world over, decide how – and if – they want to walk through.
Abroad, the decision may have to do with such factors as, Can my career stand taking off work for Yom Kippur? Do I really want to spend hundreds of dollars, pounds, or euros on synagogue seats for the family? Can the kids bear the services? Can my spouse? Can I?
Here in Israel, of course, the questions are radically different, if they are asked at all. In this place, socialism-bred kibbutzniks may know infinitely more Hebrew – and even more of the Hebrew Bible – than many formally Orthodox Jews abroad.
But as Amir and others stress, powerful efforts by the kibbutz movement to replace Orthodox practice with a new religion based on values of agriculture, Jewish history, the Bible as literature, and modern Israeli culture have been sidelined as the kibbutz movement itself has imploded.
As it just so happens, I’m currently living on an agricultural kibbutz that hasn’t privatized and still has a chadar ochel (dining hall) open 3 meals a day (although I hear it’s one of the last). The kibbutz is also religious. Last night Mrs. Last Trumpet and I were discussing the inherent contradiction in the fact that our ulpan teacher explained to us that shivyoni (which she translated as equality) is one of the three primary values of the kibbutz, however that doesn’t seem to hold true the moment we step into the Beit Knesset (synagogue), or in the work we’re assigned (which may be more about physical limitations than gender). I digress – back to the article:
Israeli Jews are searching for a synthesis that will speak to them. Judaism evolved over thousands of years. We would be well advised to allow people of good faith to carry out their trials, without laughing like bullies at their errors.
It is Yom Kippur. It is time to lay anger aside. It is time, as the prayers of both Orthodoxy and Reform specify, to shelve slander, scorn, ridicule and baseless hatred.
It is Yom Kippur. It is time to let Jews be Jews. It is time to recognize that Judaism itself is changing – even Orthodox Judaism. It is time to let individuals be alone with their God, and, at least this one day of the year, to accord that relationship the respect it deserves.