Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Deadly enemies

As promised, I looked through all the issues of the CCAR Journal from 1973 to 1979, and didn't find a review of The Jewish Catalog, by Rabbi A. Stanley Dreyfus or anyone else. However, I did find a review of The Second Jewish Catalog in the Summer 1978 issue, by my fellow Chicagoan Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. The highlight:

But bar mitzvah needs, in my view, not merely to be described but to be opposed. The American ceremony is one of the deadly enemies of Jewish education, and there is no way to bypass its malignant effect on growing up Jewish. To prettify the issue is, I believe, a disservice to the true needs of our community, which require its abolition instead.


  1. Gotta love Rabbi Wolf...he's never one to mince words. I'm not familiar with his objections to Bar Mitzvah, (though he did write a book called, "Challenge to Confirmands.") I'm guessing he's distressed by the lack of post-Bar Mitzvah Jewish education, especially among Reform Jews. Do you know the full story?

    P.S. Hi! It's been awhile. Any other Olin Sangers reading this?

  2. shoshana MarchandApril 10, 2011 9:53 AM

    Well, of course, this is like hen one gets the long awaited black belt in kung fu and is awaiting heaps of praise - and the sensei says "And now, grasshopper, you can begin to learn kung fu." Except we're encouraging quitting at the first yellow stripe on the white belt.

  3. Yes! I agree. The Jewish education system that is predicated on getting kids to bar or bat mitzvah and then stopping sort of exactly backwards. I do not understand it, myself. I learned almost everything I know and think about Judaism after I turned 12 (when I had my bat mitzvah, which, admittedly, involved giving a dvar Torah and no leining or service-leading). (But, still, I found something nice to say by Nechama Leibowitz.)