Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bait and switch

I posted this recently to an email discussion list:


Public service announcement: the debates on denominations vs postdenominations and institutions vs independents are two separate debates! (In fact, they were two separate panel discussions at Limmud NY last weekend.) Don't get baited-and-switched. E.g. if someone says "If there are no denominational institutions, then we'll just be an undifferentiated melting pot and no one will stand up for their core values" you can say "Dude, i can still stand up for my values even if I don't have an institution to lean on," and if someone says "If there are no movements, then who will take care of [x thing that movements do and independent minyanim don't]?" you can say "Dude, there can still be institutions to do that, and they don't have to be broken down by religious ideologies."


  1. agreed.

    But what is the relationship between a movement and its institutions? For example, can one really claim to be Conservative, yet ignore the CJLS and dislike most conservative shuls?

    Maybe its easier to separate in Reform, where ideology is defined but practice isn't. Or Orthodoxy, without any real central institutions.

  2. Dude, you are wise.

  3. Attempts to define "Conservative" are fraught with this kind of inconsistency. You have people saying that anyone or anything that combines [fill in the blank like a Mad Lib: tradition / halachah / Hebrew / "observance" / etc.] with [modernity / change / egalitarianism / aggadah / academic scholarship / etc.] is really Conservative (with a subtext, or not-so-sub text, of "so why don't they just admit it already?"). And then the SAME PEOPLE would put a particular set of expectations on all "Conservative" Jews, such as listening to what the CJLS says or caring about the future of the Conservative movement (qua set of institutions). Nu, which is it? They can't have it both ways.

    I don't get to say "Canadians are basically American: they're a multicultural society with English as the dominant language, run by representative democracy at the federal and state/provincial levels, with a regulated capitalist economy. Therefore, they should be paying taxes to the US government, and making sure that US institutions stay strong."