Tag Archives | shabat

The Reformim in the Conservative shul

I went to Kane Street Synagogue on Brooklyn for erev Sukot/Shabat services last night. It’s a Conservative shul, but they have a Friday night minyan that has the feel of being an indie minyan, though it is far from indie.  Rather, it is the Friday night service of this affiliated, mid-size Brooklyn shul. I’ve previously written about KSS here, during my month of NYC shul-hopping last winter.

While there, I ran into to other Reformim. One is a URJ employee and the other was an HUC student. Hm.

I ask the following without wishing to insinuating that there is some crisis where none exists. What does it mean for URJ Jews when Reform Jews, who, unlike me, continue to associate with the Union go to services regularly, but don’t go to URJ synagogues regularly?

Of course, it was just a good as I remembered it, though the crowd seemed a little smaller. Last time I went, I arrived a little late and was confounded by the cluster of people who all seemed to be kind of leading the service. This time, I was there early so I got see that at the beginning of the service, Joey, the leader, just invites up anyone who wants to (“Even if you have no idea what you’re doing”) come up and help lead. What a great minhag! It also introduces a low-level buzz of chaos to the service, which I love.

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Shabos Zmiros – Fleet Foxes

So, OK, this has nothing to do with Shabat. But if this band, Fleet Foxes, and this song, Ragged Wood, isn’t Shabatastic, I don’t know what is. Enjoy

Shabat Shalom.

via YouTube – Fleet Foxes “Ragged Wood” Music Video

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David goes to Yale, has an interesting conversation

An old Kutz friend of mine is now a freshman at Yale. In high school, she lived in Florida and I in Texas, so we hadn’t seen each other in a while. I paid her a visit this weekend, spending one very strange Halloween at Yale.

Saturday afternoon, after a gorgeous walk in some gorgeous weather, we sat down in the gorgeous courtyard of her residence, Silliman College, and had a very interesting conversation. She put into words something that I’ve felt, but had been unable to articulate.

After we spent the Summer together at Kutz on 2005, I was completely sucked into the Reform movement. I went on to go to Israel as a senior in high school on the Union’s EIE semester program, spent another summer and spent another summer as a participant at Kutz, not to mention two years as president of my synagogue’s youth group.

Her story is rather different. Though she is a product of the movement through-and-through (her father is a Reform Rabbi), she kind of fell out of the movement, and became involved in a couple of eye-opening pluralistic programs. First, she spent a summer at Brandeis University on a program called Genesis, which she described as being like Kutz, but not. Genesis has more of a college feel, a focus on text study, and includes participants from all walks of Jewish life, from black hats to no hats and everything in between. The following summer, she was accepted to the prestigious Bronfman Fellowship summer program in Israel, also a pluralist program

I eventually made it to the world of pluralism, but it took me until my first year of college to do it. I attended the Limmud NY conference in January of last year (register here for the 2009 conference, where you will have the time of your life) and, though I enjoyed the conference greatly, came away from it very frustrated with the Reform movement, but unable to say exactly why.

My friend at Yale explained that at Genesis she became very frustrated with Reform as well. She said that at Genesis, all the program participants planned Shabat every week. Her eyes were opened by the more observant students, for whom planning Shabat involved a slew of minute details and considerations, which she had never been exposed to.

I realized that Shabat at Limmud was a similar experience. Limmud NY also draws a very denominationaly (or lack thereof) diverse crowd. It was the first Shabat I had really spent around a considerably large group of people, many of whom were far more observant than I. In the Reform movement, I’m used to being one of the most observant people in the room.

What frustrated us both about these experiences was that the movment that had raised us and educated us and made Judaism dear to us hadn’t explained that there were other Jews out there. Obviously, there aren’t any Reform Rabbis out there claiming that Orthodox Jews are is imaginary as the Easter Bunny, but they are certainly an ignored, or sometimes even obnoxious, fact of life to the Reform institution. My friend and I both noted considering, if only for a fleeting second, joining their ranks.

But in the end, I think we’re just glad that our experiences with pluralism have taught us that there people out there for whom a strictly observant Jewish life isn’t seen as a burden. Instead, it is that observant life that gives their lives its meaning, in just the way that my Reform choice process gives my life meaning.

Though I’m not even remotely willing to say that our movement’s excellent relationship with the American Muslim communiyt is bad thing, it is certainly a shame that we may have a better relationship with members of other religions than we do with our own coreligionists. It is a shame that we are often so insular in the Reform movement.

Shavua Tov.

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Shabos Zmiros – French-Israeli rap from Shmoolik

His name is Shmoolik. He was born in France, but lives in Israel now. This came to my attention by way of JTA’s The Telegraph.

Shabat Shalom, mes juifs.

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How to further revolutionize your Jewish life, using Google

It’s no secret to readers of this blog and RJ.org that I’ve got a little obsession with Jewish time of late. I counted the Omer here at the Shuckle earlier this year and I’ve just hung my Heeb Magazine Ladies of ’69 Israeli models Hebrew calendar in my dorm room.

Moran is an unfortunate name, but she seems like a nice Jewish girl nonetheless.

Moran is an unfortunate name, but she seems like a nice Jewish girl nonetheless.

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