Powered by Blogger

Friday, May 25, 2012

Principles over people

There was a small crowd at the monthly Lunch and Learn meeting today, as there often is when the date is changed. We were supposed to be discussing the 10 commandments (it's Shavuot this weekend), but of course there was little enthusiasm for this. The conversation morphed into a discussion of saying "no" to requests that aren't "Jewish," and I got off on a minor rant, because this is a huge pet peeve of mine.  As I said to the group, we reject people who are trying to participate in the community by saying what they're doing isn't "Jewish" enough, but much more often than not, whatever they want to do becomes completely acceptable 5 years, or 5 months, later.  Because Judaism keeps evolving and changing and accommodating modernity, what is unacceptable one minute becomes standard practice the next. The example that arose early in the conversation was a family who wanted to bury their child in the family plot in the Jewish cemetery, but wasn't allowed because, actually I forgot why, but it doesn't matter.  When their request was denied, they got upset and left the synagogue.  What possible difference could it make in a whole cemetery to have one grave filled with a not-quite-totally Jewish child?  I made the point that we seem to always pick "principles" over people, but then the principle changes and the rejection those people received becomes moot.  But they've already been alienated, along with their children, and their children's children.  And I also pointed out that we cry and gnash our teeth about shrinking memberships, but at the same time, we keep rejecting people who want to belong to the community, often for reasons that matter to only a few people. I understand that each rabbi feels they must protect Judaism - as Rabbi Pepperstone said, "We want to open the door, but not too wide!"  But I still come back to wondering why we insult people who want to embrace Judaism, all because they're not doing it "right."  Maybe we could open that door as wide as possible and then try to educate and shape the experience of those who walk through it.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home