The end of Jahfilte Fish?
When I first came back from Israel, I got involved in an informal shabbos community throughout New York. Masters of something they called the “ruckus shabbos,” whereby shabbos would be, just crazy, with constant drunken singing, dancing, and yet a strange modest self-control that would generally keep things from getting “out of hand,” We rocked hard all through different houses, communities, and national parks in and out of the tri-state area, most rainbow gatherings, and sometimes even Canada or Mexico. Somehow we started referring to each other as Gefilte fish, either because of the tightly packed car rides, lack of any leadership or secular purpose (no head or tail), or just the drinking. The “Ge” became rastafarized as a “Jah” as we recieved Nyabingi smicha at the national Rainbow Gathering, with Bingi Icon Rocker-T even playing a set for us at one of our many flop houses in Washington Heights once.
Mostly initially inspired by the wilder shabboses we were turned on to in Israel, with a devotional party passion and love for the songs that we’d picked up here and there from Shlomo, R’Nachman and sometimes raffi or uncle Moishy, we had some mighty good shabboses, indeed. People met and fell in love, got married, divorced, religious and post religious, with the proud accomplishment of almost nothing but some strongly built friendships, and a few people charmed into the Sabbath religion. We’ve mostly long since disbanded yet stayed together, meeting up in Jerusalem, weddings, and the odd shabbos where any of us are nearby. We’ve all grown and changed very much both theologically and in all those other ways too, decreeing the Jahfilte Fish movement, as it somehow came to be called, dead and over a number of times.
At one point we got a website, mostly for announcements, but also for the occasional Torah clipping or something. It was pretty simple and stable for a while.
And then, at some point things started to get out of control.
Not with personal attacks, mostly, more with controversial theological positions, explorations of anti-nominanism, drug morality, sexual virtues and demands… keep in mind that we’re all a bunch of kids, from like 19-30 something, most all from orthodox backgrounds… suddenly exposing each other to progressively radicaler Torah and ideas–
back and forth raising and lowering stakes as we’d get either bored or threatened by the discourse.
So there’s been a conservative response every so often, especially when we’d degrade into cheap yeshivish bathroom humor, or some blanketly droll statement about the evil of such-and-such group or the virtue of such and such drug– But now it looks, like at long last, the site might be ending.
The moderator of the site, one of the coolest, lovingest people I know, is about to call it quits on the basis of moral distrust of some of the Torahs being given over, and no one of the rest of us has the technical skills to moderate much. We’re still negotiating, but basically he felt that some of the ideas being promolgated are too far beyond the acceptable norms of Torah.
The main problem has been recent postings of Neo-Sabbatean teachings controversies having to do with the nature of Jesus Christ’s trip and whether messianism is inherently or even vaguely anti-nomian…
We’d gone past a period of some controversy, from the Naked Shabbos case which was cross explored here on Jewschool and there on Jahfilte. But now, it looks like the conversation is ending, after a period of really radical stuff, some of which felt for me like the most important discussions ever.
Because it’s easy to justify radical ideas in a secular or academic context, but for it to happen organically inside what’s basically an orthodox youth culture– that might be powerful. We tried to argue everything on the basis of the holy, instead of dismissing the holy outright, which made this forum feel somehow authentic and homey to me.
And now that it’s about to be over, I welcome y’all to take a look. See if you find anything worth saving, or, if for some strange reason any of you want to take over hosting, some of us would appreciate it. This is our first time being shown to the larger world, so… be nice. feel free to comment while there’s still time, post chat stuff, insight, political ideas, and if you know of anywhere cool to go for shabbos, let us know.