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Comments

The problem is not so much with Jews as the fact that American Institutional Judaism has become an ugly exploitative commercial racket.

Rather than uplift, synagogue is an exchange of insults. A main purpose of Yeshivot and Orthodox day school is to keep the kids away from the shvarztes and the goyim. American Jewish institutions tend to be frequented by old, ugly people with nothing better to do.

Speaking personally, I've been lucky enough to find a schul where this is not always the case, where I can participate meaningfullly, limudei kodesh I enjoy learning, and one or two or three semi-observant Jews I really, really like. Easier said then done.

Coelecanth

I'm sure you're aware that these issues pervade all aspects of western society. It seems like every organized group is struggling with identity and membership issues.

I think it's the commodification of, well, everything that's driving this discontent. You can't join anything without having the brand being hardsold to you.

Bookclubs existed long before Oprah, but now you need to buy the reader's guide edition and the workbook or your bookclub isn't happening. If you like an emo band heaven forbid you should go to the show without the proper ironic t-shirt. Nothing new in any of that, just the degree to which it's being done.

On the other side we have the increasing connectivity of our society. The fact that I'm sitting in northern Canada considering your words is a perfect example. I really think that we are poised at a great divide. One were the very meaning of all of our social institutions is up for grabs.

In my positive moments I feel like we're about to redefine "humanity". The cliques, groups and organizations seem to be getting more and more specific as the criteria for memebership gets more and more narrowly defined. Where can it end? I like to think in a society where everyone is in their own group consisting of one individual. A unique entity that is valued for it's uniqueness and equal to all the other groups of one.

In the end isn't the meaning and purpose of things like Judaism different for everyone? Despite the common history and belief structure each individual makes of it what they will. Universal observance seems impossible to me.

The uniqueness of the indivdual experience needs to be valued just as much as the commonalities of the organization. The push to brand and commodify everything denies that uniqueness.

The rise of the blog seems to be an antidote. A means for the everyone* to express their indviduality in a public space. A place where both the uniqueness and the inevitable similarities of people can be perceived and cherished. A place where you can indeed be a unique and equal group of one.

Phew, this talking out my *ss is hard work, off to the pub...

Thanks E, more good stuff to think about.

*I'm aware that it's only reasonably wealthy citizens of industrialized nations who can do this, not really everyone. But then the branding nightmare is an industrialized problem too.

Gatsby

I imagine every generation (as you allude to in your article) goes through some of these struggles. My father rejected Orthodoxy and found comfort in Reform. I find myself straddling Reform and Conservative. It seems to me that the movements are great at supporting school kids (USY/NFTY etc...) and College (Hillel). If people leave College without being married and wanting to settle down in an synagogue, they can get lost. It's something that our parents, who were usually married by college, didn't have to deal with. Blogs have certaintly help me re-connect a bit though. Thanks for writing.

Josia

Just posted something about tapping into a new energy source:

"After reviewing those (kabbalah) materials you will start understanding everything that happened in the past and is happening now, and not only on Earth, but also in the whole universe, because you will see the higher roots that are the cause of reality of our world. Trust me, after several days you will feel the new flow of energy, confidence, that you did not have before. You will feel like you are connected to a new energy source, which refills you.

(The Chosen Generation post)

Alice

I was born and raised a Jew and still identify culturally, but I'm an Athiest. After doing a load of studying (which I won't go into here) I realised it was nonsense. I now rely on the power within.

Lyss

I agree that Hillel and the like are very helpful when you're in school. Once I greaduated from college I found that it was hard to meet other Jews in a non-singles setting. There are some groups in my area that are like post-college Hillel, but I want to make friends, I do not go to those events with the intent of becoming anyone's wife.

Jobber

Alot of people used the word "Spirituality" but I'd like to know what the heck you mean by that.

It seems to me, the problem described is part of the general need for perfection that we see all around us. So I also go to Shule and am bored, but the Rabbi said a couple of really cool things today, so I am satisfied.

Can't you take something good out of your shule experience? Yes I am bored there, so I bring materials to read w/ me, during the boring periods. What is so harmful and odious about that?


Jobber

Alot of people used the word "Spirituality" but I'd like to know what the heck you mean by that.

It seems to me, the problem described is part of the general need for perfection that we see all around us. So I also go to Shule and am bored, but the Rabbi said a couple of really cool things today, so I am satisfied.

Can't you take something good out of your shule experience? Yes I am bored there, so I bring materials to read w/ me, during the boring periods. What is so harmful and odious about that?


Jobber

Alot of people used the word "Spirituality" but I'd like to know what the heck you mean by that.

It seems to me, the problem described is part of the general need for perfection that we see all around us. So I also go to Shule and am bored, but the Rabbi said a couple of really cool things today, so I am satisfied.

Can't you take something good out of your shule experience? Yes I am bored there, so I bring materials to read w/ me, during the boring periods. What is so harmful and odious about that?


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