November 23, 2013

Less counting, more accounting

Having grown up in the Conservative movement in the US, and now living an essentially Orthodox life in Israel, I have had mixed feelings about the recent articles focusing on the demise of the Conservative movement.

Regarding both the reality of the disintegration of the movement and the various reasons for it, everything has already been articulated better by others. What I am left with though, are mirror messages for the Conservative movement and Orthodoxy respectively, and one for both. 

 Diane Meskin
To the Conservative movement I would like to say: stop counting me as a failure of the movement simply because I no longer wear a Conservative sign around my neck. It is because of you, especially Camp Ramah, that I became a Jew committed to mitzvot, living in Israel, and am continually inspired by the tradition and the role I can play in it. You are the source of my yiddishkeit, and the space where I learned to nurture, strengthen, and explore it. 
To Orthodoxy I would like to say: stop counting me as a success, you haven’t earned it. The fact that I am effectively Orthodox today is despite you, not because of you. On a movement-level, as much as we can look at Orthodoxy as a movement, most things you do are anywhere on the spectrum from uninteresting to offensive. 

My yiddishkeit found a home in Orthodoxy because of specific people, minyans, rabbis, classes, books and ideas I met on an individual level. Where grand statements, institutions, and general trends in Orthodoxy are concerned, you have done next to nothing to keep me excited about being Jewish.

And to both of you: stop being so distressed about the concept of a movement and trying to controls its borders. Rather, think seriously about whether or not your efforts are doing good for the Jewish people, society, and state, or not. If they are helping Jewish civilization grow and become stronger, or if they are splitting us apart and wasting our time constantly looking over our shoulder to the past, instead of finding inspiration for the future.

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