Thursday, June 10, 2004

The 'Week in Review

I stopped blogging the Jewish Week & the Forward, as they can easily be read online. However, two articles particularly irked me today. Gerald Skolnik, a Conservative Rabbi in Queens, complained about recent Halakhic rulings & practices. He claims that Halakhic Judaism is becoming a caricature & as a colleague of the Biblical prophets, he must complain about it. Halakha must engage the world. I don't hate Orthodox Jews. Etc.
I don't know where to being on this one. Honestly. Conservative Halakha has become of mockery of itself over the past 30 years. Observance of law among the laity (and even among many of the Rabbis) is somewhat of a bad joke. To argue that he & the Orthodox are all part of the same Halakhic community is a bit insulting, especially to the women I know who are giving up thousand dollar shaytlach out of a committment to Halakha. Furthermore it is an updated version of the old, "Shah. Don't embarress us. What will the goyim think?" Which previous generations of Orthodox Jews had to endure.

The larger question is whether denominations may criticize each other publically (or, to expand the question, other religions). On the one hand, there is, in general, a live and let live situation. But, if you see a problem, one of the few places where you can directly address members of another Jewish community is in publications like The Jewish Week. But one may recall an article by Avi Shafran in Moment Magazine, which was unfortunately titled by Moment as "The Conservative Lie." The essential thrust of that article was that C. Judaism had abandoned its Halakhic roots and that those C. Jews who took Halakha seriously should join Orthodoxy. He took a lot of slack for that article. Now, one could argue that the problem was that AS was recruiting among the C., but one could also say that GS was saying O. Halakha should be more like C. Halakha. Later I may questions of when & how Religions can criticize one another.

The other editorial which bothered me was Gary Rosenblatt (GR)'s lovefest for David Ellenson (DE). Essentially GR was applauding DE for promoting Orthodox Rabbis who both GR & DE liked. It is not promoting Klal Yisroel to publically play favorites in another Community's politics (although Hartman is an exception, because he is so far removed from the Orthodox community). Now, I like DE & am happy that he is running HUC. However, I do not think it appropriate to publically try to influence other Jewish commuties (to the left or right). As a private citizen one can believe what one wants (personally, I don't like Liberation Theology), but once this enters the public sphere, I would say tend to your own before picking sides in another's battles.

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