Saturday, July 02, 2005

Move along, nothing to see here

Kol Zimrah has been mentioned in the Jewish Week again! I missed the article when it came out a month ago, but I wasn't quoted out of context (or at all) this time, so I didn't have to write a letter to the editor anyway.

It's not clear what this article is actually about. I can't find a more coherent point than "There is a diversity of Jewish life on the Upper West Side", the sort of story that would make front-page headlines in the Blueprint. But here's the key paragraph:

Ansche Chesed was at the vanguard of the lay-led prayer group movement that sparked an explosion of independent minyans in West Side synagogues, churches and private apartments from Kehilat Orach Eliezer (serious davening and sensitivity to women’s issues) to Kehilat Hadar (egalitarian, Conservative vibe) to Darkhei Noam (mechitza, but women read Torah) to Kol Zimrah (singing, musical instruments), and more.

First of all, I don't know why people keep spreading this calumny about Hadar. Anyone who thinks that Hadar has a "Conservative vibe" has either never been to Hadar or never been to a Conservative shul. (Or only been to Hadar on a bad day, I suppose.) Well, I sort of know why. For people who grew up Orthodox, "Conservative" is a synonym for "non-Orthodox", and for people who grew up Reform, "Conservative" is a synonym for "non-Reform" (where I grew up, it really was -- we didn't have any Orthodox Jews), and for people who grew up Conservative, it's wishful thinking. Also, if you group all prayer into "Hebrew and English without a mechitza", "Hebrew without a mechitza", and "Hebrew with a mechitza", then Hadar is unquestionably Hebrew without a mechitza. But that hardly qualifies as a "vibe", let alone a movement (and at least this article didn't place any of the independent minyanim into movements).

But everything about Kol Zimrah is accurate! Yay! But the veracity of the information in parentheses isn't the important part. (Though it's funny that KOE is described by "sensitivity to women's issues", which the reporter clearly got from their website, though it is the least egalitarian of the four minyanim listed. And that Kol Zimrah is the only one that, in the Jewish Week's conventional wisdom, transcends gender issues.) The important part is that this article is a milestone for Kol Zimrah and its independent minyan brethren. It's one thing (and a wonderful thing) to have a whole feature article about us as a new and cool phenomenon. It's yet another thing to be a completely run-of-the-mill reference in an article about something else; it means we're a full part of the Jewish landscape (even in the eyes of the Jewish Week).

No comments:

Post a Comment