Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I've definitely been spending too much time participating in some rather rousing discussions over at DovBear's and Miriam (and Paul) Shaviv's blogs - long arguments, mostly about women and halakhah (a very interesting discussion sparked by Miriam's participating in a women's tefilah group and getting hagba). There's been much spirited argumentation with Toby Katz, and now Lisa, on DovBear's comment threads - they defend a rather (to my mind) rigid version of Orthodoxy and especially what should be important to Orthodox women (having more babies and dressing modestly, it seems).

Two bloggers that I've encountered through these discussions and have started to read with pleasure are Orthomom and Mirty, who has also been drawn into the uproar (see this posting from her: they really don't get it).

Since I currently belong to a Conservative shul, and have never defined myself as Orthodox (even though I did belong to an Orthodox shul for a year in Jerusalem), I sometimes feel a bit of an interloper in these discussions, but one of the pleasures of the internet & especially the blogging world is that it's possible to enter into a community of sorts that one might never enter in the "real world."

I would find it interesting to be introduced to some more Conservative and Reform Jewish bloggers who are as passionate as the usual crew over at DovBear & Bloghd - the inimitable Amshinover, the halakhically correct Gil Student, the lyrically spiritual Barefoot Jewess, GoldaLeah, Conservative Apikorus... the list goes on. Anyone have suggestions?


  1. In no particular order: Danya, Naomi Chana, and Velveteen Rabbi are all passionate and non-Orthodox. Aviel is passionate too. I'm not sure if she would describe herself as non-Orthodox, but she is certainly breaking out of conventional women's roles in a great way.

  2. I think the passion one feels for her Judaism should, lulei demistafina, be steered toward a more positive relationship with God and Jews, and not used to dig in one's heels based on stereotypes of "Orthodox," "Conservative," or "Reform."

  3. "Results 1 - 10 of about 236 English pages for Hagba"

    So it's just not me having to research what this is. This is, apparently, an extremely obscure term in English, or on the Web.

    "Results 1 - 10 of about 102 English pages for "lulei demistafina."

    This is also not something that, it appears, might speak to many people who only speak English.

    Just, you know, saying. In the context of Jews who don't want to just talk in, apparently, numbers of only a few hundred to each other. (Yes, I'm entirely sure the number is greater; elsewhere in the world than Google; all I can say is that some of us live mostly in the Google English world, and others live elsewhere.)

    My own, highly limited, experience with this sort of thing -- in general! -- is that jargon is often used to signal to others that they belong to the same group, but to the yet other others that they don't belong. That makes sense in various situations. I'm unclear if that's actually useful, though, if a desired goal is communication beyond the small group. It's certainly not clear to me that such usage invites Jews to participate who don't know the code. To be sure, though, and I mean this in the kindest fashion, I've already turned down some fine invites, so welcoming invites aren't all that would help. I do hope I'm not saying this too badly, but I won't be surprised if I am, as usual. Hebrew, is to also be sure, not a bad thing, to say the least. It's just that as a test for being a proper Jew, it does seem to put some of us here and some of us there, for better or for worse, and that's all I'm saying. Which I probably shouldn't have; I tend to feel as if I'm unqualified to speak on anything relating to this sort of thing, but at the same time, I wonder if, as a Jew, that should be so. But, of course, I can think of many reasons why it should be, and I shouldn't. If only holding three separate opinions, none in Hebrew, qualified me sufficiently.

    I'm still kinda afraid, almost, to post this, but I will.

  4. I should probably add that I can accept the criticism that it's stupid of me to refer to Hebrew, or any non-English language as "jargon." (Not that, you know, I want anyone to say it's stupid.) I'll modify what I said to plead that to some of us, it may seem that way, for better or worse.

  5. Oh, and I really shouldn't speak as if I'm speaking for anyone else besides myself, since I don't; sorry about that, too.

  6. Jeesh, Gary, you don't need to apologize so much! A simple question would be fine, in this form:

    "What is hagba?"

    "I'm glad you asked! The word means "to raise up" and refers to the ritual at the end of the Torah reading, in which a member of the congregation raises the Torah and opens it so that the whole congregation can see inside it."

    And Cloojew - I'm definitely NOT digging in my heels about stereotypes of the different movements. I think my presence on various websites of self-identified Orthodox Jews should be sufficient evidence that I'm not devoted to a particular movement to the exclusion of all others. I've belonged to Orthodox & Conservative synagogues, I've belonged to chavurot and minyanim and women's tefillah groups, as a teenager I went to a Reform religious school & belonged to their youth group. I have just been struck by the energetic nature of the discussions on DovBear & Bloghd lately and wondered if there were websites, written by people self-identifying as Conservative or Reform, that are as energetic & passionate. That's all. It's not intended as a value-judgement.

  7. Appreciate the thoughts, the link, and your participation at the blog.

    I like to think that we (ie: the usual crew) represent Orthodoxy at it's best (well not Golda and CA who are not, technically, Orthodox) but you get my drift, I hope.

  8. Thanks for the kind words about my blog. Always happy to welcome a new reader!

  9. Gary, don't be so unsure and apologetic. You raise a good point.

  10. So what does lulei demistafina mean, anyway?

    Kol Tuv


  11. Thanks for the link and your input on my blog, Rebecca! I am thrilled to have your participation. And for the record, I am not limiting my heroines to Orthodox ones, it just so happens that the ones I've been researching lately have been Orthodox. It may be the case that I gravitate toward women of a similar affiliation to mine because I can relate, but not because of any bias. Look out for Jewish heroines from other denominations.

  12. BS"D
    Hi - very pleased to have found this blog :)
    You're correct, Simon, I would describe myself as Modern Orthodox, but only as a shorthand to describe my understanding of mitzvot.

    I actually believe that labels can be dehumanising, unless when one describes denominations in a way that they aren't really labels on people, they're labels on ways of thinking about how to organize the Jewish community in accordance with a particular theory of textual and rabbinic authority.

    So I agree with you, too, ClooJew.

  13. If I may (and if it's not too late!):

    Lulei demistafina means "Were I not afraid." It's a phrase used by many of the Biblical, Talmudic and halachic commentators when they want to say something controversial. They say, "If I were not afraid, I would say..." and then they say it. Its a signal of humility, as if to say, who am I to propose such an original idea.