|Volume 5 Number 128||Mon Mar 4 0:09:10 US/Pacific 1996|
From: Steven E. Slap <email@example.com> Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 19:56:43 -0800 Subject: Building Bridges or Aid & Comfort On the subject of interacting as Jews with Farrakhan and his ilk, I would like to make two points. First, one needs to understand the role Farrakhan plays as a leader *within* the black community. He is a spokesman for, in particular, the idea that black males must take upon themselves their rightful responsibilities within the black community- as fathers, husbands, productive members of society. This is a compelling, and most important vision, which should resonate very well within a Jewish perspective. Second, as Jews, we must never allow ourselves to forget the appeal of desperate measures to oppressed peoples. We have had an unique historical role in support of black liberation movements in America, and we must not allow racists like Farrakhan to prevent us from continuing to build a natural relationship between two groups (blacks & Jews) who share many common goals, and many common enemies (see Peter's comments about Buchanan, for example). This is not, at all, meant as a defense of the Nation of Islam, but as an appeal to Jews to reach beyond the hateful rhetoric to the continuing suffering of blacks in our society. Steven Slap 102134,firstname.lastname@example.org Springfield, MA
From: Rabbi Arthur Waskow <Awaskow@aol.com> Date: Fri, 1 Mar 1996 13:53:09 -0800 Subject: Making Sense of Purim Dear Dan, I realized that what with Shabbos, Sunday, Ta'anit Esther beginning Monday a.m., and calculating when people will get the next issue of LJ digest, there'll be little to no time for anyone to write me (as I had suggested) to ask for the "Missing Name of God" piece. So I'm sending it to you: If you think it makes sense to post it, fine; and if not, also fine. Good shabbos & freilach Purim, Arthur. [Given the timing of digest sending, and the length of the piece, I've agreed to include it. -- Yr. Mod.] ************************ This image came to me the night before Ta'anit Esther 5755, and gave me no rest until I wrote it down. -- Arthur Waskow Nistar B'Nistar B'Megillat Esther [After Chapter 9, verse 16 of Megillat Esther:] And then appeared Darkness , Her Head wrapped in mourning, Her tallit all black, Her Place only Absence, Nistar b'nistar: Her Voice was a Silence: "I came to defend you, My people beloved; I strengthened your hand to beat back your foes; But then you betrayed Me. For your hand became frenzied, You struck down the innocent, You struck down my children While they reached out to Me. On the day of rejoicing You hollowed My Name; In My Own Tree of Life, You hollowed out life, left only a mocking pretense of My Self. And I see -- yes, I see -- That in days still to come Your deeds will give warrant To a child of your children, To murder your cousins, The children of Ishmael, The children of Abraham, In the Place of his grave, On this day of rejoicing. So My Name I withdraw -- Yes, My Name will be hidden, Nistar b'nistar; For I will not permit you to call out from this Scroll My name on this day. Yet I teach you that Purim, Alone of the seasons, Will continue beyond the time of Mashiach. On the day that both families of Abraham's offspring do tshuvah for their murders, their murders of each other, on that day will my Name take its Place in the Scroll. On that day Purim and Yom Ha'K'Purim at last will be one. On that day, at last, This Purim will lead you And light up your way to the Days of Mashiach. On that day all the nations will laugh and will dance, will turn robes of power into masquerade mirth; will turn every gun to a clackety grogger. On that day will My Name Take Its Place in the Scroll In letters of Light. With blessings of tears, blessings of determination to "seek peace and pursue it," and blessings of joy in shalom, Avraham Yitzchak Yishmael Yam ben Chanoch v'Chana, Erev Ta'anit Esther, 5755. As published in Godwrstling -- Round 2 (Jewish Lights, 1996).
From: email@example.com (Rabbi Steve Forstein) Date: Sun, 03 Mar 1996 08:05:23 -0600 Subject: Possible Rural Jewish Mailing List This is NOT a Purim joke! I'm happy to announce that funding for The Jewish Resources Network of the Mountains and Plains (Har V'Kikar) has been increased through October 1996, so that we can intensify organizing efforts in our prime service area of Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. As a result of this increased funding and in furtherance of our organizing effort I am volunteering to moderate a mailing list and a linked web site (nothing fancy at first). Whether or not the mailing list becomes active depends on you. Please write and express your preference as to whether such a mailing list should be initiated and whether you would read and participate in such a list. Only votes from Jews in rural circumstances will be counted, so please describe your Jewish community. I have set as a criteria of "rural Jewry" that one should live outside a major metropolitan area with at least three congregations. (For example, living in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska makes you an urban Jew, while living in Sioux City, Iowa makes you a rural Jew.) Also, while you are at it, please take some time to think of a name for the possible mailing list. A couple I have thought of are: Rural-Jewry or Rural-Jew(el)s Please cast your vote ASAP by responding to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Rural Jewish ML Vote." Subscription information will follow in this venue if there is sufficient response. I hope we can begin service after Pesach. Happy Purim. This is NOT a Purim joke! Rabbi Steve Forstein email@example.com 605/332-4099 fax 605/332-9261 P.O. Box 1451 Sioux Falls, SD 57101
From: Marv Kaminsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 23:51:46 -0500 (EST) Subject: Re: Roll Your Own Judaism (Small-Town Judaism) I didn't save my post to the list from back when this discussion began, but after reading the recent discussion, I can proudly say "I told you so." Recall that I spoke of how the Jewish community of Oswego, NY receives no attention from Jews anywhere else, hearts, minds and wallets closed to the small cities that don't show up on our "map of caring." Despite his attempt at back-pedaling, it is clear that Julian Yudelson is the perfect illustration. Read between the lines and you see the message is clear: They're in the boonies, fools, they should move to the big city, they can't be Jewish w-a-y out there. And if they want to stay there, for reasons absolutely unfathomable (like fresh air, low crime rates, reasonable housing costs, etc etc) I can't waste my time thinking about them or supporting their Jewishness, emotionally or monetarily. Even the signature on the back-pedal proves he *still* doesn't get it: "Kol Israel chaverim, bemidbar and the Negev" (corrected). Places like Oswego and the Dakotas and non-urban Hawaii do not have cattle roaming the streets and tumbleweeds blowing past the family as it heads to a Purim party. North America is not a choice of metropolis or Hooterville. It is perfectly understandable that many choose the high quality of life available in small cities (my state defines a city as having a population over 10,000). This choice shouldn't deprive them of the right to be Jewish and be "supported" by those who have chosen to live in the big cities. M!
From: Dan Yurman <email@example.com> Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 15:23:13 -0800 (PST) Subject: Roll Your Own Judaism (Small-Town Judaism) Dan Yurman firstname.lastname@example.org Idaho Falls, ID This is my reply to Julian Yudelson's note of 2/25/96 offering two "opposing traditional perspectives" regarding the difficulties facing small communities. It is too bad that Mr. Yudelson offered a mixed message in this note. On one hand, he made some some very helpful observations in his note about the use of the Internet. On the other hand, he managed to hit more than a few hot buttons among members of this list, including my own. Mr. Yudelson has got the right idea about the value of the Internet for small congregations. However, I do not see how he has "reconciled" the contrasting perspectives of his note. I am deeply troubled by his contrasting perspectives. He asserts that every Jewish soul requires encouragement and support. On the other hand, when Mr. Yudelson calls small towns outside of America's large cities a "wasteland," it is a terrible insult to the commitment and tenacity of tens of thousands of Jews who by circumstance or necessity find themselves *** not *** in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. In effect, it says that Jews in small towns get what they deserve because they have left the larger Jewish community located in big cities. Mr. Yudelson makes a judgement that since Jews already living in the "wasteland" have chosen to do so, despite advice from the larger cities, that "the establishment must allocate human and financial resources elsewhere." I don't accept that idea, and Mr. Yudelson can stand on his head and juggle knishes until sunset, but it isn't going to change my mind. Mr. Yudelson says the long term viability of small town congregations "is very doubtful." This congregation has been active in Pocatello, Idaho, for nearly 80 years. The congregation in Boise, Idaho, has been active for 101 years. Just how long is enough to be counted as viable? NB: I received a private email message from the head of UAHC's small congregations department in New York. In a private reply I urged him to post it on this list. So far he has chosen not to do so. Since I don't have his permission to copy it here, I want to take the next most useful step and invite him again to consider entering the dialog. It would be a useful counterpoint to Mr. Yudelson's slam dunk rejection of any Jew who chooses not to live in a city meeting specifications for size and viability. Unless there is *** non-exclusionary dialog ***, which I called for in my original posting, this problem will grow. The National Council of Jewish Federations has already measured the strong demographic trend of migration of Jewish families out of large cities and into the "wasteland." Either new ways will be found to link up, e.g., using the Internet, or the "establishment" will find itself talking to itself.
From: email@example.com (Ed Miron) Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 20:14:57 -0500 Subject: Roll Your Own Judaism (Small-Town Judaism) In discussions about small town Judiasm no one has yet mentioned synagogue affiliation rates. In large metropolitan areas the percentage of Jews who belong to synagogues is quite small. I read that the affiliation rate in South Florida is estimated to be in the 20% range! In small communities that I am aware of if a Jew or someone one suspected of being Jewish moves in, they are sought out by the Jewish community. I know of many Jews who never affiliated until moving to Dalton, GA (64 family congregation) or Rome, GA (~30 family congregation). In a small town, without a larger surrounding Jewish culture, a person often becomes more acutely aware of their Jewishness. This can lead to one taking a more active role in being Jewish. Hence the majority of Jews in the above mentioned towns do belong to the local synagogue, in contrast to cities of Atlanta, Los Angeles or even possibly New York.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ted Marcus) Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 17:53:00 GMT Subject: Singles Dilemma In regard to Aaron Goldapper's article (in Volume 5, number 122) and the recent thread on small-town Judaism, I must point out that isolation and exclusion from the Jewish community aren't confined to small towns. I live in the "South Bay" region of Los Angeles, an area that supposedly contains a large number of "hidden," unaffiliated Jews. It's hard to tell how large this number might actually be, since few of them stand up to be counted. With a few exceptions I'll get to later, the synagogues in my area are, essentially, in business to provide a "social experience in a Jewish setting." Specifically, they're social clubs oriented around children and religious schools. Families with school-age children make up the majority of members, plus a contingent of senior citizens who apparently attend services out of habit. Many members can be described as "Drop-off Jews," who attend the synagogue only long enough to drop off their children at Hebrew school and collect them once the class is over. I am among those who are unable to walk into a synagogue alone and feel comfortable, primarily because I'm single. With their family and school orientation, synagogues make no attempt at all to welcome singles into their congregations. To be sure, there is no specific prohibition or policy against singles attending services, and even becoming members. But there is a de facto discrimination, as the families and children gather into their little groups and cliques after Sabbath services, and there is little room for singles in the scheme of family-based havurot and social activities. There are a few tenacious singles to be found at services, mostly those who feel a compelling need to pray as part of a congregation regardless of the social circumstances. But there aren't many of those. The synagogues do a pretty good job of meeting the social needs of individuals from birth through high school, with religious schools and affiliated youth groups. Some college campuses also have an active "Hillel" or "Jewish Student Union." Presumably, one is supposed to marry during or immediately after college and start a family, thus becoming eligible to join a synagogue and begin the cycle anew. But if a Jewish student graduates from college and is not married, he or she effectively disappears from the organized Jewish community. There is no provision for single adults in the scheme of things. Many synagogues in Los Angeles (although not in my area) have "singles activities." These include large, "meat market" dances, as well as smaller groups that form, disappear, and form again. But these activities exist in the periphery, outside the congregation itself, and make no attempt to integrate single people into services, havurot, or other normal synagogue activities. I suppose the synagogue leaders feel an obligation to provide these activities as a way of helping singles to meet, marry, have children, and thus attain the necessary prerequisite for participation in the synagogue and organized Judaism. Many people who participate in these activities find them so unpleasant, frustrating, and meaningless that they decide it isn't worth the bother. If organized Judaism insists on marginalizing them, what real obligation is there to go through the great effort of seeking a Jewish mate? Rather than face the prospect of being alone many go off to join the ranks of the intermarried who are lost to Judaism. The one exception to this bleak situation is to be found among the Orthodox, particularly Chabad. There are several Orthodox organizations that provide stimulating, relevant discussion groups for single adults. The Chabad synagogues actively welcome single people to attend their services, as part of their outreach to "any Jew who moves." They even provide matchmaking, as well as an "adoption" program in which families welcome singles into their homes to celebrate the Sabbath and festivals with them in a warm and congenial setting. Naturally, these programs are mainly available to those who indicate a serious desire for a "Torah-true" family lifestyle according to Chabad's definition. This tends to put off people who aren't so committed to Orthodoxy. If this pattern is consistent with the policies of synagogues and Jewish organizations in other locales, I don't see much of a future for "liberal Judaism." Orthodoxy and ultra-Orthodoxy, to the extent that it provides stability and certainty in an uncertain world, will prosper, just as fundamentalist sects of all the world's religions are gaining membership. Those who are willing to accept Orthodox beliefs will perpetuate them through the generations. Meanwhile, other branches of Judaism will wither away as the younger generation is either drawn to the security of Orthodoxy, or completely assimilates. I have no problem with the emphasis on the traditional family, since the Jewish home is the basis of the Jewish community. But with the proliferation of single, divorced, and "non-traditional" lifestyles, non-Orthodox synagogues and organizations need to find some way to make a place for singles and other people who aren't (yet) in a traditional family. Indeed, if they are committed to promoting the traditional Jewish family, welcoming people without families into their community should be farm more effective than staging "meat market" dances. Ted R. Marcus Internet reply to: email@example.com
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