Subscribe: YudelLine
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
conservative  hebrew  heschel  jewish  judaism  klezmatics  movement  new york  new  people  synagogue  united synagogue  united  world 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: YudelLine


Remembering that penultimately they came for the Jews

Published: 2016-09-29T01:32:51-05:00


A whole new world


More than 20 years since I thought, "Oh, Shmoozenet would be a great name for a site," I'm moving my blogging over to the See you there!

Book announcement


Looks like Ben Yehuda Press will be publishing the first book of poetry from Shoshana Razel Gordon Guedalia, an excellent writer with an overly long name. Look for A Voice is Heard in Ramah next summer. But you can pre-order today.

Back again?


Is this working now?

Blogging from


This is blogged with a new tool: Dave Weiner's new outliner Fargo.

Will this lead me to start blogging and writing more on this site?

That remains to be seen.

2013 is going to be a web year?


I've been relying on large corporation with dubious business models and worse ethics for too much of my publishing these past couple of years. Facebook brings me a core audience of friends and relatives -- but too often I find myself chafing at its restrictions. No major revolution planned... but I expect this year to figure out how to be posting both inside and outside the walled garden.

Top Twelve Reasons Why Chanukah Is Better Than Christmas


12. You can't be nailed to the menorah.

11. More elephants in the Chanukah story.

10. No roof damage from the reindeer.

9. Never a silent night when you're amongst your Jewish loved ones.

8. Dance of the Sugar-Plum Rebbe.

7. Betting Chanukah gelt on candle races.

6. Yes, Rivka'le, there is no Santa Claus.

5. Naked spin-the-dreidel games.

4. Fun waxy build-up.

3. No awkward explanations of virgin birth.

2. Cheer optional.

1. No Irving Berlin songs.

(Written by Larry Yudelson and Yori Yanover for the Jewish Communication Network ( circa December 1995)

Is particularism the essence of Judaism?


Rabbi Robert Gordis, in a letter to the New York Review of Books:

Conventional wisdom has it that broad, universal philosophic concepts are to be sought among the Greeks, while narrow, intense particularisms derive from the Hebrews.

It may be worth pointing out that the human telos which Professor Cameron finds lacking in Aristotle, and which he credits Christianity with introducing, was clearly enunciated by the Hebrew prophet Micah four centuries before Aristotle and eight centuries before the birth of Christianity: "He has told you, O human being (adam) what is good and what the Lord your God requires of you, to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:7). Not the Jew or the freeman or the male (ish) but the human being irrespective of race, status or gender, is being called upon to obey the Divine imperative.

Rabbi Robert Gordis taught....


‎"Theological humility requires us to recognize that although we have but one God, God has more than one nation." -- Rabbi Robert Gordis

Did Rav Soloveitchik really approve this message?


Customized for me on Facebook today:

(image) (image)

Putting aside the pesky legal issues involved in using Rav Soloveitchik's image to advertise a publication he never saw, this raises some questions. Did the Rav ever read C.S. Lewis? What was his reaction to Philip Roth and his infamous early-60s appearance at Yeshiva College?

For that matter, did he ever read the student newspapers when he finished with his morning Times? For that matter, while it's becoming clear what he read in Germany, do we have any idea what he read in America? Did he read in America? Did he have a television in his apartment (they were banned in the YU dorm back in the day, though the ban was no longer enforced by the Reagan era.)? Did he watch television?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Quote of the Day


Nothing is ever as important as it seems when you are thinking about it, which means that scholarship is a structured form of overstating the case, whatever case you are arguing. (This is the engine driving all those “Mustard! How A Tiny Seed Made a Big Difference” books of the last 20 years.)

-- Danny Kahneman, as cited by Clay Shirky

Memo to the United Synagogue: Outreach is not education


Thumbs up to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for their Project Reconnect, which seeks "to reinvolve, reinvigorate, and reconnect the very many Jewish adults who were touched by the Conservative movement's programs for teenagers, college students and young adults." And a double thumbs up for its Come Home for the Holidays initiative, which offers free High Holiday tickets to young adults who grew up in the Conservative movement. It's great to see Conservative Judaism taking outreach seriously. But a thumbs down for their gratuitous use of Hebrew jargon. Conservative kehillot from all across the world are offering Free High Holiday Tickets and/or Home Hospitality to alumni of conservative movement programs! Click here to find a participating kehillah near you. Don't forget to check the list often, more kehillot sign up every day. Kehilot? That's Hebrew for communities. If you've been paying attention to the ins-and-outs of the United Synagogue recently -- and why would you? -- you'll recall that the United Synagogue, the umbrella group for Conservative congregations, felt they had to respond to the challenge of "indie minyanim," where young adults gather to worship without a building fund or rabbi, by offering to serve minyans as well as congregations. It's not at all clear that any of these minyans -- many of which are attended and led by graduates of the Conservative movements schools and camps -- have volunteered to hook up with the United Synagogue and start paying due. But on the off chance that they might, the United Synagogue decided that it would on longer deal with "congregations," but rather the perhaps-more-inclusive Hebrew term kehilot. Look: I love the Hebrew language as much as the next guy, if the next guy has tapes of Hebrew versions of Bob Dylan and Tom Lehrer in his car. But if you want to draw people into the synagogue, you need to remember: Hebrew is an obstacle. It's bad enough that services are in a foreign language; does your web site have to be too? It's not like kehilah and kehiloth are words used in general conversation, like the colloquial Yiddish "shul." It's hard to think of a context in a Solomon Schechter day school or a Camp Ramah where one might want to teach the word "kehillah." But if a teacher wanted to teach that particular word, they could, ; part of the fun of Jewish education is that you have a temporarily captive audience who has to temporarily memorize the words you quiz them on. Outreach workers don't have that luxury. They're marketers. They have to bring people in to Judaism, and that means meeting them as much as possible where they are. Aish Hatorah and Chabad understand that. It's too bad that Conservative Judaism still doesn't. p.s. Anyone looking to Google to understand the phrase will find education but not immediate enlightenment on Wikipedia: Kehilla (Hebrew: קהילה) may refer to Qahal, a theocratic organisational structure in ancient Israelite society, and a quasi-governmental authority in Jewish communities of the Middle Ages.Kehilla (modern) (pl. Kehillot), the elected local communal (secular as well as religious) Jewish structure in Central and Eastern Europe (Poland's Second Republic, the Baltic States, Ukrainian People's Republic) during the interwar period (1918–1940)Community in general (one possible translation - among many - of kehilla is community)[...]

Pledge cards by the dashboard light


From the UJA-Federation of New York:

Join us for an evening filled with friends, fun, and entertainment at New Leadership Campaign's Summerfest Concert featuring Meat Loaf.
I suppose that supporting Jews locally and overseas never felt so good, never felt so right.

And yes, kids: You can look forward to hearing Lady Gaga singing for UJA in 30 years times. Your musical memories are not a long-term refuge from the organized Jewish community. (Did I mention that Dan Bern is holding a songwriting workshop at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center?)

Kickstarting Jewish Culture: August 2011 edition


Today's insightful New York Times Magazine article about Kickstarter set me browsing again. I used the crowdfunding site to raise the printing costs for The Comic Torah and it always, it provides a glimpse at the cutting edges of numerous cultures. My inner technogeek was intrigued to see projects funding $50 radiation detectors and $60 custom jeans. My Jewish culture maven found some just-as-cool, but less expensive, projects to support.First, a Kabbalah-themed comic: src="" align="left" frameborder="0" height="380px" width="220px">The 36 is a graphic novel based on the Kabbalistic belief that there are 36 people in the world upon whom it is saved by their simple existence. In times of need, these people emerge from anonymity and save us, then fade back into their lives.Noam, our hero, is one of those people. Armed with the fabled staff of Moses (used to split the Red Sea), Noam would love nothing more than to fade into anonymity; he just doesn't know what he has to do to finish his duty as one of the 36.You can check out the first five pages of the comic here!Tonally, it borrows from Bill Willingham's Fables, with the source material being Jewish mysticism. It's a world of magical realism in which golems exist and 36 humans have God-given abilities and the task to "save" humanity. These abilities range from the mundane, like speaking with animals, to the super, like wielding electricity. At its heart, the story focuses on the relationships between Noam and those he protects, whether fighting with his nebbish brother or fending off the infatuation of a girl he's protecting. The first two chapters follow Noam as he investigates a murder spree committed by someone using a golem -- an ancient creature created from mud. Second, a 25th anniversary album from the Klezmatics: src="" align="right" frameborder="0" height="380px" width="220px">To mark its silver anniversary, the band that helped bring klezmer into the 21st century is releasing Live at Town Hall, a sonic souvenir of a remarkable NYC concert. And to help promote this, the Klezmatics’ first self-produced live CD, the Grammy Award-winners are launching their very own Kickstarter campaign. Your generous donation will enable them to cover post-production costs and hire a radio promoter and media publicist to bring the recording not only to those who already love the Klezmatics and klezmer, but also to those who are entirely new to the music.Since 1986, the Yiddish-American roots band the Klezmatics has spearheaded the popular revival of a tradition that once flourished at Jewish weddings and other joyous occasions in the shtetls and cities of Eastern Europe. They have performed in more than twenty countries and have released ten cds - of which Live at Town Hall, made in conjunction with the recent documentary film The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, is the newest.The double cd captures the Klezmatics’ milestone sold-out concert at the storied New York venue. The band rips through a career-spanning setlist, assisted by a star-studded roster of special guests including two of the band’s former clarinetists, David Krakauer and Margot Leverett and recent vocal collaborators Susan McKeown and Joshua Nelson. The audience is treated to a musical journey, traveling from the band’s earliest days (“Dzhankoye,” “Fun tashlikh”) through newly-composed songs featuring the lyrics of folk troubadour Woody Guthrie. The event was a real Klezmatics hometown party: a celebration of community, music and love, past, present [...]

Bad JTA headline writing, 1966 Heschel edition


It's not easy to summarize a news story concisely... particularly when the subject of the story prefers oblique poetry to prose, as did Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. As Andrew Silow-Carroll noted,

I find that whenever I hear someone quoting Heschel, or most spiritual thinkers for that matter, I’m compelled to respond, “Or exactly the opposite.”
That would explain this JTA headline from May 17, 1966:
Rabbinical Assembly Convention Hears Warning on Ecumenical Movement
Given that the Orthodox opposed the ecumenical movement, it would certainly be possible that the Conservative rabbinate heard a warning against it.
"A second ecumenical movement, worldwide in extent and influence,
threatens the lives of all of us," a leading Jewish theologian told a
gathering of 500 rabbis and a number of invited Canadian clergymen here
tonight. Speaking on "Prerequisites of Faith," Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, professor of Jewish ethics and mysticism at the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America, told his audience "that ecumenical
movement is nihilism."
Oh. So Heschel opposed nihilism. As for interreligious ecumenicism, this is what he had to say:

Addressing the 66th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the
association of Conservative rabbis, at its first meeting outside of the
United States, Dr. Heschel warned that "parochialism has become
untenable. Jews and Christians alike share the same perils and fears. It
is no longer safe for Jews to cultivate aloneness and uniqueness, to
refrain from sharing either perplexities or certainties with

Spiritual betrayal on the part of any one group affects the faith of
all the world's believers, Dr. Heschel said. "For all the profound
differences in perspective and substance, Judaism is sooner or later
affected by the intellectual, moral and spiritual events within the
Christian society, and vice versa," Dr. Heschel said.

"We must choose between interfaith and inter-nihilism," the Jewish
scholar told his listeners. "Cynicism is not parochial. In praying for
each other's health and in helping one another to preserve our
respective legacies, therefore, we are preserving a common legacy of
faith," he said.

Let that be a lesson in writing headlines based on a cursory reading of one paragraph.

Incidentally, the last paragraph of the story marks Elie Wiesel's third appearance in the JTA archives, and the first as an advocate for Soviet Jewry:

At an earlier session of the convention, Elie Wiesel, prize-winning
author and a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, indicted world Jewry
"for abandoning the 2, 500, 000 Jews of the Soviet Union." Mr. Wiesel,
who has just returned from Russia, drew parallels between what he saw as
the abandonment of European Jewry during the holocaust and the neglect
of Soviet Jewry today.