Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Eilu V'Eilu week 1: clarifications

Upon closer reading of Eilu V'Eilu week 1 as it was posted to the URJ website and sent out on the email list, I see that a number of edits were made to my original statement as I wrote it. Some of these changes were merely cosmetic, but others are significant enough that I feel I should clarify them here for the record, since I have frequently advocated for careful word choice when it comes to these matters.
  • My original draft said "became American by joining a homogenized American culture", and this was changed to "became Americans by becoming assimilated into the general culture". While these mean essentially the same thing, the word "assimilated" has taken on a pejorative connotation in Jewish discourse that I did not intend to invoke.
  • In the last sentence of the first paragraph, I wrote "frowned upon ritual practices that they saw as going too far in maintaining Jewish cultural distinctiveness." The word "cultural" was removed, but I think it is essential, because early Reform leaders certainly believed in Jewish religious distinctiveness (and believed that religion and culture were separable, though this proposition has since been challenged).
  • In the last sentence of the second paragraph, the phrase "like a later start for Friday night services" was made up out of whole cloth. I never said that. My original draft did not have an example in this sentence, and this relatively trivial innovation isn't the example that I would have come up with.
  • In the third paragraph, my original draft said "'Reform' was not a one-time correction whose results were intended to last forever, but is an ongoing process for progressive Jews in every generation." This was changed to "Their pronouncements should not be interpreted as...", but the whole point is that it's not just about "their pronouncements"; the point is that we keep moving.
  • In the last paragraph, my original draft said "classical and modern Jewish sources", and the word "classical" (referring to a particular time period) was replaced with the more loaded word "traditional", which I try not to throw around lightly.

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