Sunday, December 02, 2007

Independent minyanim in the NYT: Blog roundup

Wherever would we be without Technorati? Since the independent minyan article appeared in last Wednesday's New York Times, lots of bloggers have weighed in about it, and I'm collecting some of the interesting ones here. I wrote a commentary here on Mah Rabu, and there has been an active comment thread at Jewschool. Post links to others if you have them!

Jewish Blogs:
  • Jeremy Burton at JSpot writes about independent minyanim in general and his own experiences at Darkhei Noam.
  • David at JewsByChoice.Org: "The Rabbinic tradition, which codified and preserved Judaism through centuries of Diaspora, has also helped calcify it into a carbuncle of a tradition, sealed in a dry and didactic anal retentiveness, with the result that the rabbinate has become both creator and guardian of an increasingly arcane and divisive form of spiritual practice."
  • On the Far Side compares us to "hilltop youth".
  • Andy Bachman: "This is a Lay Led movement in its own right that we should sit up and pay attention to because it is one of the most serious manifestations of the religious future that we can fathom."
  • Divrei Chaim assumes that everyone is Orthodox in the state of nature and says: "2800 people are not leaving the derech because they cannot square the age of the universe with braishis or because they cannot see how torah m'sinai fits the documentary hypothesis - they are leaving because established religion, Orthodoxy included, has proven itself spiritually irrelevant to their lives. That is a thought that should scare us."
  • Faithhacker: "I just want to emphasize that you don’t have to live in NY, LA or Chicago to be a part of a strong and innovative Jewish community."
  • The article launches a dialogue at Yiducation.
  • The Lilith Blog: "Rather than forsaking Judaism because of their distaste for tradiitonal Jewish institutions, young people are inventing new institutions that make Judaism fun and meaningful, in ways that fit with their lifestyles and value systems. Jewish life is hardly dead in their hands, but the kind of Jewish life that divides us as one people could be."
  • Temple Board Authority talks about what this means for established synagogues. "I happen not to think that these minyanim represent a threat. They do represent something of a failure, but at the same time, they signify that the generation that has been lost to the synagogue has not been lost to Judaism."

Christian Blogs:

  • Musings of a Jaded Optimist and Second Drafts are surprised to discover parallels to Christian "emergent churches".
  • Boy in the Bands would like to see more parallels in the Christian world.
  • Christian Research Net says we're part of "Satan's market", with an "'I want what I want and I want it now' approach to God". Likewise, Blogged Down World asks questions like "Is worship more about what I want or more about what God demands bibilically speaking?" This line of argument represents a fundamental misunderstanding of Judaism. Unlike Christianity, we don't have a doctrine of apostolic succession. We may have a concept of Knesset Yisrael, but not of The Church. As a result, established Jewish institutions might attempt to justify themselves (and delegitimize grassroots efforts) sociologically, but none would dare attempt to do so theologically. I.e., they might claim to be better for the Jews, but not closer to God. (And the streams of Judaism where they'd be most likely to attempt that claim are the very same streams whose adherents are most likely to organize a pickup mincha minyan in an airport baggage claim.)
Post more as you find them! Tomorrow's project: blogging about the survey results.


  1. I read the divrei chaim piece differently. Not that "everyone is Ortho in the state of nature" so much as [very] tentatively entertaining the thought that some of the issues raised by people who don't choose (or choose to leave) orthodoxy can't be dismissed, yet pose a serious challenge.

  2. Over on Synablog, I'm trying to keep up with coverage, too, both on the NYT story and on the survey. I think we have many of the same links, but not all.

    For more on the Christian-Jewish emergent connections, please see my article with emerging church expert Ryan Bolger, which appeared this summer in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. I just posted a Synablog review of key Christian-Jewish blogposts.

  3. rebecca m-
    My comment was in response to "leaving the derech", which assumes that we were on "the derech" to begin with.

  4. BZ, it may not be the case that Divrei Chaim was referring to "us" emergent-community-people when he said "off the derech" -- he may have been making an analogy....

    "Just like establishment synagogues can learn from emergent communities how to be more responsive to the needs of Jews, so can Orthodox communities learn from the experiences of the ex-Ortho/"o.t.d." how to be more responsive to their needs."

  5. chillul Who?, that's quite charitable of you, but I don't read that post that way. To me, it's quite clear that divreichaim is calling every member of the Hadar mailing list "off the derekh". His intentions are good, but his framing is way off.

  6. Hey Desh

    I guess I'm just a nice guy :)

    But seriously, elsewhere in his post he acknowledges that he's aware that most indie minyan-goers are *not* ex-Orthodox, so they can't by definition have gone "off the derech"...

    Unless every non-Ortho/Haredi Jew is BY DEFINITION "off the derech", but I don't think I've ever heard the term used like that.

    Alternatively, he's confused himself?

  7. Sure, there being a single derech (even one with multiple lanes) is the frame they are working from.

    But what struck me most is that while they certainly haven't discarded it, they're questioning it.

    And, that it's the developments that occur outside of the official movements that are causing them to question it.

  8. one doesn't have to have gone off the derekh in order to be off the derekh, if you're using that description.