15 thoughts on “When Muslim-Jewish Dialogue Fails, and Other Tales of Jewish Alienation – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. An interesting piece, but a sad tale, Richard. Let’s face it, Jews are no less prejudiced than any other people. But this is not a religious issue, it is rather one of politics. The synagogue is not the place to address it.

    Indeed, Spinoza was right. That more people, Jews and others alike, would follow his example. As Einstein did. When asked if he believed in god, he replied that he believed in Spinoza’s god, which is no god at all. They would not have hesitated to engage with the other.

  2. There are paths. In an environment of fear, it plays out.

    Maybe offering the biima was not the smartest choice, and a less religious setting would be appropriate.

    Rabbis are always on thin ice relative to their congregations. Boards are skittish, and either responsive to the skittish (and sometimes powerful, usually loud) in congregations or fight them and end up hurting the shuls (in fundraising, turnout, whispers about the rabbi).

    In the past, you’ve condemned collaborative efforts, peace-seeking efforts as insufficiently assertive.

    I think they are the way to go.

    Like forbidden love (Romeo and Juliet), its possible to find ways to make peace possible, as the love is more substantive spiritual expression. Prohibitions provide a durable setting for love, but are not a replacement for love.

  3. Once again, is it any wonder that so many feel so alienated from such insularity?

    You sound beleaguered despairing and almost depressed. I have my differences with you but here I would like to offer sympathy. I am alienated from community for these very reasons (and not unhappy), coming from very Orthodox and “small-minded” family.

    Fighting that directly ( and there is a lot of it) seems to help make it stronger- does not cause break-through to any enlightenment- and further splits us. It’s a war within which I find a lot here and that can also sometimes be small-minded. That may be the better or more important battle ultimately but it seems also useless and tiring even though I admit it also catches and upsets me.

    I hope you find a community of like minded that will allow you to make worthwhile contributions that do make a difference- as the one you describe.

    How about a Reform shul? We went to one recently for an occasion and I was very impressed.

    You face an uphill battle to your stated goals if you intend to change those minds.

    1. No Reform shuls here in Seattle that appeal to me. I’ve only really felt comfortable in Reconstructionist shuls in Westchester, Venice & Irvine. But there is none here with a rabbi (one without a rabbi which doesn’t work for me as a spiritual home).

  4. So how did the joint program Temple de Hirsh-Sinai and MAPS work out? Are they continuing it? If it was successful you should be able to persuade others, including your own Temple to join in. If, on the other hand, it was a one-shot affair, your rabbi could conclude that she was right in rejecting it.

    1. I wasn’t at the event as they planned it among themselves. Rabbi Weiner doesn’t strike me as someone who’d be eager to share his event with anyone else. Rabbis have rather lg. egos as you may know.

  5. HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY, 2009!!!!!!!!!!

    Verily I say unto thee, be not oblivious to Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity.

    Evelyn Mulwray: Tell me, Mr. Gittes: Does this often happen to you?
    Jake Gittes: What’s that?
    Evelyn Mulwray: Well, I’m judging only on the basis of one afternoon and an evening, but, uh, if this is how you go about your work, I’d say you’d be lucky to, uh, get through a whole day.
    Jake Gittes: Actually, this hasn’t happened to me for a long time.
    Evelyn Mulwray: When was the last time?
    Jake Gittes: Why?
    Evelyn Mulwray: It’s an innocent question.
    Jake Gittes: In Chinatown.
    Evelyn Mulwray: What were you doing there?
    Jake Gittes: Working for the District Attorney.
    Evelyn Mulwray: Doing what?
    Jake Gittes: As little as possible.
    Evelyn Mulwray: The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?
    Jake Gittes: They do in Chinatown.

    A RELATED FACEBOOK GROUP –
    Name: Roman Polanski Should Be Pardoned!
    Category: Common Interest – Beliefs & Causes
    Description: This is a group for individuals who believe Roman Polanski should be granted a legal pardon (executive clemency) by the governor of the great state of California (The Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger).

    LINK – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=140671249769

  6. RE: “My rabbi let me down. She promised something she never delivered. She never exchanged a word with me afterward about the program or why she dropped it. And that is one of the reasons why I feel alienated from my own synagogue and its spiritual leader.” – R Silverstein

    “Send The Pain Below” Lyrics
    Artist(Band): Chevelle

    (excerpt) I liked, having hurt
    So send the pain below where I need it,
    You used to beg me to take care of things,
    And smile at the thought of me failing.

    But long before, having hurt,
    I’d send the pain below,
    I’d send the pain below.

    Much like suffocating,
    Much like suffocating,
    Much like suffocating,
    (I’d send the pain below…)
    Much like suffocating,
    (I’d send the pain below…)

    MUSIC VIDEO – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDdxY3tXHt0

  7. Isn’t it the job of a religious leader to lead a community along a path of peace and spiritual understanding even if that understanding conflicts with something as trivial and worldly as the community’s political views?

    The heart is an incredible indicator of right and wrong (there are many Sufi teachings that study, in great depth, the spiritual value of the heart and how it relates to the soul, but that’s for another occasion). It’s obvious, Richard, that your Rabbi’s heart was telling her that the twinning project was a good thing. Alas, she was swayed from this noble cause by whispers of gossip, rumour and innuendo. Her heart is obviously in the right place, but in future she should look upon these opportunities and decide whether she will push a worldly agenda by conforming to her community’s worldy fears and political views or whether she will take the leap and push an other-worldly agenda – as that one that goes with the path she chose for her life: Priesthood.

    1. Joachim, if you truly believed that you would have omitted the qualifier “for the most part.” While your concerns about Jewish organizations’ efforts to slap a veneer of tolerance on some particularly intolerant views and actions (especially in the Boston area where we both apparently live) are well-founded, it’s also true that decent people from both communities still want to try to understand each other. This is all the more crucial in a world where Islamophobia is running riot. I continue to believe that interfaith work is important, and dialog is one component of that. It’s hardly pointless.

  8. RE: “WHEN MUSLIM-JEWISH DIALOGUE FAILS, AND OTHER TALES OF JEWISH ALIENATION”

    CONSIDER: “Synthetic Without Being Analytic”–Concepts As Weapons On The Rachel Maddow Show, by: Paul Rosenberg, 10/17/09

    (excerpt)…three types of adult reasoning in a typology I’ve discussed repeatedly over the years. The basic outline goes like this:
    > Sequential thinkers reason “by tracking the world,” recognize regularities in sequences of events, but have no abstract understanding of cause and effect. The world they perceive is a world of appearances that has very little organization to it beyond the recurrence of sequences.
    > Linear thinkers understand cause and effect, limited to a one-direction, one-cause/one-effect model. The world they perceive has logical order and structure, but the structure is invariably hierarchical, causality flows top-down, and the world is divided neatly into cause and effect.
    > Systematic thinkers understand multi-faceted, multi-linear cause and effect, with mutual cause-and-effect relationships between different elements. The world they perceive is primarily a world of systems and relationships, rather than objects.

    I first wrote about this typology, from the 1988 book Reason, Ideology and Politics by Shawn Rosenberg in a 2005 MyDD diary, “Terri Schiavo: We’re Too Smart!” One of the most significant additional aspect of sequential reasoning that I highlighted in that diary was this:

    Sequential thinking involves conceptual relations that “are synthetic without being analytic. They join events together but the union forged is not subject to any conceptual dissection.” [Direct quote from Rosenberg’s book.] Because such relations are non-rational, there is nothing rational one can say or do to change them. (Sound familiar?)

    As will be seen below, intentionally shaped concepts that are “synthetic without being analytic” are powerful rhetorical weapons. You pack as much of an argument as possible into them, so that the argument can’t be critically analyzed. Such concepts are not made for illumination, much less for critical inquiry, they are made for attack…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.openleft.com/diary/15576/synthetic-without-being-analyticconcepts-as-weapons-on-the-rachel-maddow-show

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