Secular Israelis are as spiritually clueless as the most right-wing hareidi
There are those among us Jewish Israelis, whether we define ourselves as traditionalist or secular-as-Stalin, who cannot abide Reform Judaism and those who choose to practice it.
"I have to admit that the pseudo-spiritualism that the Reform Jewish synagogue manufactures is foreign to me," wrote Gafi Amir in an opinion column in Yedioth Ahronoth this week.
Taking a shot at the "neo-secular, particularly those who congratulate themselves for being enlightened and pluralistic," Amir decided that their level of religious observance will not include the commandments of fasting and searching one's soul.
"On Yom Kippur they will skip over these two clauses when they visit the Reform synagogue. Afterward, they will wear out their less enlightened and secular friends, like me, with the purifying experience they underwent there."
What kind of mishugass is this? I don't think I know a single "enlightened egalitarian," no matter how otherwise minimally observant who does a Yom Kippur without fasting and self-examination. The folks I know who don't aren't found in any kind of shul, even a Reform one.
There's a certain glee in the tone of these words. Part of it is because the words break new ground, going well beyond the timeworn observation that "The synagogue that I do not attend is Orthodox."Inherent in the hatred of Reform is the assumption that even the most pork-stuffed of the secular know authentic Judaism when they see it, and a fraud when they do not. They can somehow divine lack of commitment and observance in Reform, even when they themselves do not study, do not practice, do not believe.
In particular, the words identify and castigate a new foreign body, yet another enemy in our midst. The words address the "Reformim" with the same dismissive contempt once reserved for Arabs, or for Jews who came from the other side of the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide.
The words treat the Reform as some form of quaint, deluded, would-be-Jewish tribe . . .
Deep down, we all know what the glee is really about. It is the blissful assurance that the collective "We" silently agrees with Gafi Amir . . .
. . .
Looks like secular Israelis need to read DovBear, to find out how "authentic" the practices of Orthodox Judaism are.
I suspect that much of the scorn directed toward Reform Judaism reflects a certain frustration over the inability of many Israelis to feel a part of any congregation, Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. For many, the gulf between secular Israeli culture and the available forms of organized religion has yet to be bridged by liturgy and customs that speak to the non-religious.
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Israeli Jews are searching for a synthesis that will speak to them. Judaism evolved over thousands of years. We would be well advised to allow people of good faith to carry out their trials, without laughing like bullies at their errors.
It is Yom Kippur. It is time to lay anger aside. It is time, as the prayers of both Orthodoxy and Reform specify, to shelve slander, scorn, ridicule and baseless hatred.
It is Yom Kippur. It is time to let Jews be Jews. It is time to recognize that Judaism itself is changing - even Orthodox Judaism. It is time to let individuals be alone with their God, and, at least this one day of the year, to accord that relationship the respect it deserves.