Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Judaism in general?

I am participating in a program called "Rav Siach" which brings together rabbinical students from many different movements/backgrounds and gets us all talking to each other. This evening we were asked to write (100 words or less) in response to the question "What vision of Judaism do I want to promote in my rabbinate?" We put what we'd written it in a little square in the middle of a big piece of paper and then sat around a table and passed the pages around wrote commentaries on each other's writings (or commentaries on commentaries). It turned out to be a fascinating and enjoyable exercise, definitely a good way to get people into potentially challenging conversation.

The biggest button this exercise pushed for me was that I knew my answer would be different depending on who I was "promoting" this vision to. The Methodist pastor down the street is a much different audience/conversation partner than the elders in the synagogue. I want to be able to speak to people where they are. And then I realized that this very desire to meet people where they are, in their own particularity, is a big part of my vision of Judaism. So, in my bristliness, I wrote the following:
"Judaism in general" is not my Judaism. In a society which consistently promotes breadth over depth and which (not illegitimately) holds abstraction, depersonalization, and problem-solving as the keys to efficiency and "progress," Judaism by its very particularity allows and urges people to connect, to deepen, to integrate, to wrestle, and to wonder. Judaism says: Take your sweet, odd, particular self, take this strange and wondrous Torah, these challenging traditions and rituals and turn them, turn them as you grow in seriously playful relationship with self and Other, with uncertainty, contradiction, and Mystery.

1 comment:

Orin said...

Both new entries were quite thought-provoking, even for those of us who have no intention whatsoever of entering into the active rabbinate.