Saturday, April 15, 2006

You Heard It Here First

Egalitarian Evangelistnoun, a Jew who dedicates their life to spreading the 'good news' of non-gender-specific roles in Jewish ritual activities.
Examples:
"No, Mordy, I will not go with you to Hadar this week. Stop being such an Egalitarian Evangelist!"
"Excuse me, ma'am/sir, we are Egalitarian Evangelists; would you like to read our literature on why women can have alíyas?"
"Hey, it's not like I'm some kind of Egalitarian Evangelist or something — I just think you should know that there's nothing wrong with having women rabbis."

14 Comments:

Blogger Mike Miller said...

Wow.. I could've used a word like that when I was at Rutgers. Hillel often had a particular individual come speak to the Conservative community who, among other things, held that he would not, b'shita, daven in a non-egal minyan. He apparently thought it was better to daven alone.

Note that I don't know if he's since retracted from this stupidity (I mean -- if all the participants aren't interested in egal, who does he think he is to force it on them?), and so I'll leave him nameless. Apparently, however, he's a somewhat (in?)famous figure in certain circles (not mine, obviously)

4/16/2006 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mike- how is not davening in someone's minyan forcing anything on them?
it's merely refusing to have something (non-egal) forced upon him.
by expecting him to daven in your non-egal minyan, aren't you doing exactly what you accuse him of- trying to force your opinion on someone who's clearly not interested in davening that way?

4/16/2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

the logical conclusion of postdenominationalism is that we'd all daven be-yechidut.
i'll often suggest, when i miss minyan, that my reason is that i'm postdenominational, rather than admit that i'm just lazy.

4/16/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

MM and Anonymous:

I agree with Anonymous's response, and have known a number of people who agreed with the "if it's not egal i won't daven there" sentiment. What was interesting during my time in Israel, though, was all the egal people who would go to Shira Hhadasha (wow you know they've made it when they have a Wikipedia article on them) for months and then suddenly realize that it's not actually as egalitarian as they believe in. And then they would all switch to Kedem.

ADDeRabbi:

That's sort of sad, though, if the logical conclusion of postdenominationalism is that each individual is a denomination unto themself and therefore can't join with other people as a community.

4/17/2006 10:03 AM  
Anonymous big brother said...

There are post-denominational communities. They just take more effort on the part of their members.

4/17/2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger BZ said...

the logical conclusion of postdenominationalism is that we'd all daven be-yechidut.

On the contrary. Many "postdenominational" (i'm not such a fan of the term) communities are coming up with novel practices that bring people together into community who would otherwise be separated. I've started documenting some of these practices:

* Taxonomy of Jewish pluralism
* Hilchot Pluralism, Part I
* Hilchot Pluralism, Part II
* Hilchot Pluralism, Part III

4/18/2006 1:51 AM  
Blogger BZ said...

wow you know they've made it when they have a Wikipedia article on them

Hey, anyone can have a Wikipedia article on them. The hard part is surviving the vote for deletion.

And for the record, I lived in Jerusalem the year that both Kedem and Shira Hadasha started. Kedem started a few months earlier, so I became a regular there close to the beginning, and never actually made it to Shira Hadasha. If I make it back to Israel, I hope to check it out; I'll daven anywhere once, but won't make anything my regular community unless it's egal.

4/18/2006 1:55 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

i'm spending the week with some evangelists of this sort.

as i'm writing this a commercial just came onto to npr for 51% which will be having ashow that seems relevant to this...

4/18/2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Oh my heavens, is *that* what I am?! :)

Actually, I've mellowed a bit with age. When I first moved to my current neighborhood, I used to get really insulted that the Sunday morning minyannaires used to ask me to go home and send my husband. (Sunday was the only day I could count on him to take care of our then-toddler while I went to morning minyan.) I used to tell them that if they couldn't get a minyan, it was their own fault because they wouldn't count me. I think I'd be a bit more sensitive to traditional practice, these days. I also no longer have either enough nerve or enough indifference to the offence that I would cause to wear a tallit when visiting an Orthodox shul. And, obviously, I'll davven in a non-egalitarian minyan--I've been doing that, albeit with considerable kvetching, for over 20 years.

Still, you've read enough of my blog to know how strongly I feel about egalitarianism. I just try to couch my opinions, which, to many, are offensive in themselves, in terms that don't cause any more offense than necessary. It's a tightrope act.

4/18/2006 6:23 PM  
Anonymous big brother said...

Sigh. It depresses me how there are people who find others' honest religious expressions somehow offensive. "Offensive" should not be a word used between the tuned-in. It takes a special kind of spite to begrudge someone their hard-earned connection to the Holy, just because you (non-personal "you") as an un-involved bystander disagree with it.
Unless they're specifically harming you, what's their to get offended about, except that your opinion isn't lone in God's universe? And if that bothers you then I don't know what would help.

4/21/2006 1:17 AM  
Blogger debka_notion said...

What is it when those of us who are gender-egalitarian want the same respect and accepted legitimacy that non-egalitairan forms of Judaism get? I don't push the issue unless someone else brings it up, and when I daven in a non-egal shul I leave my tallit at home and wear a scarf rather than a kippah. But when people start telling me that my way of practicing Judaism is invalid, I certainly don't keep my mouth shut. Am I being an egalitarian evangelist under pressure? Or am I just defending myself? (Maybe I'm Shira's younger, slightly less mellow clone-sister)

On the other hand, I think that refusing to daven in non-egal minyanim under any circumstances is bad for klal yisrael.

4/21/2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger BZ said...

"[R]espect and accepted legitimacy" from whom? Once we all respect ourselves and accept our own legitimacy, we won't care so much what other people think. Non-egal Jews certainly aren't losing any sleep over whether egal Jews accept their legitimacy.

4/21/2006 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

debka- I'm not sure i agree with you that its important for unity among klal yisrael that us egal Jews non refuse to daven in all egal minyanim.
first, the refusal of most (though not all) non-egal Jews to set foot in an egal minyan makes the unity pretty shaky.
second, I'm not sure Jewish unity requires that we all daven together, but rather that we respect eachother's choices and generally avoid dismissing them as sexist, ignorant, destroying yiddishkeit, etc.
-sarah m (the 1st anon)

4/23/2006 10:28 PM  
Anonymous jdub said...

I'm not sure Jewish unity requires that we all daven together, but rather that we respect eachother's choices and generally avoid dismissing them as sexist, ignorant, destroying yiddishkeit, etc

I disagree, (hey, I'm Jewish). I don't have to respect your choice. I think you're wrong. I think egalitarianism is wrong.

I do, however, have to respect your right to choose to be wrong. And you have to respect my right to choose to be wrong in your eyes.

There's the rub. You clearly believe egal is the only correct way and I think it's destroying Yiddishkeit. (well, honestly, I don't, I think apathy among non-Orthodox Jews is leading to the destruction of Yiddishkeit, because I don't think most non-Ortho Jews care one way or the other, outside of very small pockets of committed Egals.) We therefore can't respect each other's choices.

But to survive, we have to accept and respect each other's right to make what we feel to be wrong decisions. And I respect your right to be wrong. And I hope you respect my right to be wrong.

Except that I"m right. ;)

4/24/2006 11:37 PM  

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