Monday, November 5, 2007

So How Would I like to see Judaism Changed?

My experience with Orthodox Judaism is that it focuses mainly on scare tactics and the suppression of disagreement in order to keep people in line; rather then the noble doctrines of Judaism.

Plus, it is just plain BORING.

All orthodox rabbis do is hand you a big list of don't do this and don't do that with no incentives but rather with scare tactics and the threat of being shunned.

My answer is to change the role of synagogues in the orthodox world so that instead of them being places of supposed spiritual purity (or are they just being a little misogynist?), synagogues should take on the role of a community center where people can hang out, have events hosted that are actually FUN, go on trips that are actually fun, and even be places where guys and girls can talk.

Implementing this idea in synagogues that don't already do stuff along those lines will make Orthodox Judaism a lot less boring. People can acutally enjoy being Jewish on a religious level rather than on an ethnic level alone; as opposed to being handed a big list of don'ts on pain of shunning.

11 comments:

jewish philosopher said...

even be places where guys and girls can talk.

Can you clear this with my wife?

Garnel Ironheart said...

Who said that shuls are sterile, boring places where nothing interesting ever happens?
First, let's look at purpose. A shul is built to pray in. In Europe before the war and in Israel, most shuls are very simple structures with rooms for davening and studying. The fancy shmancy ones might have a social hall attached to them but that's about it. Just as I don't expect to go bowling at the supermarket, I don't expect to "hang out" at shul. That's not the purpose of the place.
The problem is that for people who don't pray, there's really no point to a shul, is there. Is that the underlying issue here, to alter or add to the function of the shul to make it more inclusive? But why? Most communities have JCC's that perform this function and give the community egos a chance to grant themselves titles. Why alter the shul? Use it for what it's meant for.
As for being boring, I would reject that charge. Physiology is boring, until you realize you want to be an doctor and you need to know it so it becomes interesting. Same with davening and learning. If you don't care, of course it's boring. Maybe relax and start caring instead.

SJ said...

>> That's not the purpose of the place.

That is exactly what should change.


>> Most communities have JCC's that perform this function

JCCs aren't everywhere.

>> The problem is that for people who don't pray, there's really no point to a shul, is there. Is that the underlying issue here, to alter or add to the function of the shul to make it more inclusive?

The point is that a synagogue should make Judaism fun, so it should take on the role of a community center to further that goal; rather than it just being an ascetic place of prayer.

btw garnel, and jewish philosopher: thank you for commenting. XD

SJ said...

>> Can you clear this with my wife?

Single guys and girls

"Noah Smith" - Pilegesh.org said...

B"H
Alex this is a free country.
You want such Synagogues/JCC (which is what many Conservative ones strive to be by the way) all you have to do is get people to build them or even easier just get the Conservative ones renamed Orthodox and your goal is achieved: egalitarian "Orthodox" synagogues with built in JCCs.:-)
PS. Do you live in some town that only has an Orthodox Synagogue that you don't find fun/welcoming or whatever?

Garnel Ironheart said...

> The point is that a synagogue should make Judaism fun, so it should take on the role of a community center to further that goal; rather than it just being an ascetic place of prayer.

That's like complaining that the shopping is lousy in the local hospital. Again, shuls aren't built as social hangouts so it's senseless to criticize them for not fulfilling that function.

SJ said...

>> Again, shuls aren't built as social hangouts

Garnel, that is exactly what I feel needs to be changed. Does it do a synagogue less or more honor if it is the center of Jewish life both religious and social?

Garnel Ironheart said...

> Does it do a synagogue less or more honor if it is the center of Jewish life both religious and social?

But that's my point. That's not the function of a synagogue. It's not a JCC. And besides, what's wrong with praying to God? If done properly (the siddur helps but sometimes a little spontaneity goes a longer way) it can be very emotional.

SJ said...

>> what's wrong with praying to God?

Nothing. But, where you and I differ Garnel is that synagogues should be for more than just prayer and I think that a sizable amount of people would not disagree.

Garnel Ironheart said...

> is that synagogues should be for more than just prayer

I wouldn't necessarily disagree that but it also depends on the size of your community.

I think this is the way we're disagreeing: You believe the shul should be a one-stop-shopping destination for the local Jew. I'm a single-use-for-a-single-building kind of guy. In a place with a large number of Jews, why would a shul need to do that? There would be JCC's, YMJA's, clubs, etc. for all types of interests and denominations. You want companionship? You go one place. You want to daven, you go somewhere else

SJ said...

>> I think this is the way we're disagreeing: You believe the shul should be a one-stop-shopping destination for the local Jew.

Not that, but shules should do a better job providing forums for socialization. That's all my point is.