Identity, Israel

Remind me again why the 2nd temple was destroyed…

From Haaretz:

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.

Full story.

12 thoughts on “Remind me again why the 2nd temple was destroyed…

  1. Suggestion: You stop judging me for wishing to sit with my mother as we hear a little bit of music at Shul…in return, I will stop judging you for your similarities to the Taliban. Deal?

  2. “Suggestion: You stop judging me for wishing to sit with my mother as we hear a little bit of music at Shul…in return, I will stop judging you for your similarities to the Taliban. Deal?”
    Wow. There’s a friendly start.

  3. I think some distinctions need to be made here. One side of the “rejection” coin is the assessment that “XYZ ideology is NOT for me”. There’s also the related element of “I believe XYZ ideology is (insert adjective) false, shallow, undeveloped, inadequate, etc.–in short, WRONG.” Those are all assessments and judgments that people make on a normal, regular, frequent basis in determining what they believe and what direction they want to go and figuring out where the truth lies.
    After all of that comes the issue of “scorn”, animosity, hostility, personal disdain, etc. etc. And THAT is where the problem lies. If we are to remain sane, truthful and intellectually honest we need to distinguish between these two states. Letting our intellectual judgments lead to personal rage and animosity is a big mistake. Telling people to shut off their judgment caps on critical issues, however, is just a cheap way out.

  4. I wrote about this yesterday and I think Eric hits this so hard on the head. Last Trumpet also titles this conversation perfectly. CCinGer and fran only serve to further the point of the problem. I don’t like orthodoxy and the orthodoxy doesn’t like my point of view. But does that mean we can’t break bread and sing and dance together (men only of course)?
    Sinat Hinam is nasty and comes from misunderstanding of both the other and ones own identity. The major point I took from this article is this segment: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.
    Let us learn from each other in the coming year. G’mar Chatima tovah l’kulam.

  5. ” I don’t like orthodoxy and the orthodoxy doesn’t like my point of view. ”
    That’s too bad. Because there’s a lot to learn and appreciate in all views, even if you think that (as a whole) it’s incorrect/not for you.

  6. well, there’s a difference between say, disagreeing with what someone does or believes, and hating them. i can have friends who say, have nonmarital sex, and i think its wrong, but i dont hate them. they’re my friends, i love them!
    not that im arguing against the “big tent” philosophy of Judaism, I’m just saying, just cause a person doesn’t necessarily hold that view doesn’t mean they’re a hater.

  7. I suspect the problem with Reform in Israel is that a lot of “secular” Israelis are “de facto Reform”, and that they don’t feel the need for a “proper movement” with synagogues in order for them to practice religion. Since Reform is about choice after studying, and since Israelis study oftentimes and learn about Jewish culture, and since Israelis often choose (to go Orthodox, or to do their own variety of Jewish religion, or whatever), they have no need for some rabbi to go around preaching to them about what to do – they have enough of that in the newspapers. So they see them as nudniks contributing to the problem that the Orthodox/Orthoprax rabbis had already made. I wonder how “secular” the “secular” Israelis really are…

  8. Part of the problem with the nature of this conflict between halakhic and non/post-halakhic approaches to Judaism is very influenced by drastically different perspectives. Let’s look at it through two fairly well known midrashim, one well known in both worlds and one relatively unknown in the non-frum world. One, from Mekhilta D’Rabbi Yishma’el, entails HaShem bringing the Torah to a number of nations, all enemies of Israel, and because of what it says of them in the verses of Torah, it is impossible for them to accept the laws and statutes in God’s Torah, Israel, however, takes the Torah first and asks what’s in it later. Torah by free-will, I’ve seen this midrash presented in “liberal” circles again and again and again (nevermind they miss/dismiss and/or ignore the traditional meanings implications of it). The second midrash, found in Talmud Bavli Shabbat 88a, is a play on a verse describing part of the revelation at Sinai, stating that B’nei Yisra’el stood “at the foot of the mountain, b’tahtit ha’har” which literally means, “under the mountain.” The midrash says that God help the mountain above the people like an inverted cask, and said “accept my Torah, and fine. Do not accept my Torah and this is your grave.” In other words, I will drop the mountain and you’re all gone. The sugya goes on to explain that the fabric of the universe rests on the Jewish people performing mitzvot, lest the universe revert to “to’hu va’vo-hu, welter and waste, void and emptiness,” what was before Creation. The fact of the matter is that some (perhaps many) frum yiddin probably feel their ge’ulah, redemption, is being prevented because of “liberal” Judaism. While they are very misunderstood in the ears of the non-Orthodox world, a number of influential rabbis in the last few generations have stated that the plight of the Jews in the 20th century was a result of the creation and spread of Reform Judaism. Some Orthodox theologies allow for this, because of the traditionally grounded notion that we are rewarded and punished for our deeds in this life; something which has been completely rejected in Reform theology, and perhaps all “liberal” theologies short of some rabbinic segments of the Conservative movement.
    Two worlds that live in two paradigms, I think we all just need to agree to disagree and learn how to do it like adults who respect one anothers humanity, but not particularly one anothers expressions of spirituality and religiosity.
    g’mar hasimah tovah to all, irregardless of whether you think there’s somewhere to be sealed or not, and tzom kal, whether you fast for 25 hours or 12 or 7 or 1.

  9. Yehuda, I had NO idea what point you were getting at, but let’s just say that both midrashim are well known throughout all religious Jewish communities.
    Besides, we aren’t talking about “Der Machmir Kehille”, We’re talking about secular Israelis. It’s not the obvious gulf between orthodox and non-orthodox, it’s the one between hilonim and religious liberals.

  10. How did I not comment on this yet?
    1. Richard – Israeli secular Jews are among the most undereducated, amaratzish, apathetic Jews in the world. A reform Jew with ten minutes of bar mitzva training is more educated than most Israeli secular Jews.
    2. Why, then, do they hate reform? Probably because their religion is intertwined with their patriotism. They don’t need anything more than a flag and a military. Everything else is built around that, and the “religious zionists” promote and applaud that.
    3. This is probably ben gurion’s biggest success.

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