20 thoughts on “Yom Kippur: Losing My Religion – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. How will allowing ritual sacrifice, on a small scale without disturbing any existing buildings, on the temple mount (on a ramshackle altar) harm any Muslim interest on the temple mount?

    וְעָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָּשׁ; וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, בְּתוֹכָם. 8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
    ט כְּכֹל, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ, אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן, וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל-כֵּלָיו; וְכֵן, תַּעֲשׂוּ. {ס} 9 According to all that I show thee, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture thereof, even so shall ye make it. {S}

    Can’t a peaceful solution, agreeable to all 3 religions, be found regarding the temple mount? Why shouldn’t Jews be allowed to practice the basic tenant of their religion?

  2. There are some sparks of light in the dark. There is some interesting work going on that’s offering new thinking around a kind of Judaism that doesn’t just belong to the orthodox, settler, right-wing community. The Hartmann Institute (https://hartman.org.il/pillar_JDI.asp) is doing good work in this area, as is Hevruta (http://hevrutagapyear.org/en/community-service-and-leadership/), and NGOs like Tag Meir (https://www.facebook.com/notes/%D7%97%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%AA%D7%90-hevruta/shiva-call-at-har-nof-by-zach-narin/532890570146587).

    1. @ Rain: Hartmann Institute? Really? You’re offering it as an exemplar of tolerant Judaism? Tolerant Orthodox Judaism perhaps. But the Hartmann dynasty is no paragon of what Judaism should or could be. They’re at best liberal Zionists offering Orthodoxy with a pleasant face as opposed to the stern rebbes with long white beards. Not to mention its collaboration with ex-Kahanist Yossi Klein Halevi to Zio-wash American Muslims via the Muslim Leadership Institute, which Hartmann sponsors.

      Tag Meir again is a good NGO for what it does. But it too is liberal Zionist. I don’t know that any of them reject the aspects of the liturgy/theology/settlerism which disturb me so much. I don’t know that any of them would exclude settlers from proper Judaic discourse as I would.

  3. You need to switch synagogues. If you went to Ikar, or any other pulpitted by a rabbi in it’s new “Jewish Emergent Network” which is changing the face of Judaism as we know it, this would’ve been a different article. Or one not written at all. You’re in Seattle, right? Time to go to Kavana, dude. https://www.ikar-la.org/jen/

    1. @ Laurel: It’s sometimes astonishing how much people think they know & the assumptions they make about how little others know. Like you, for example. Ikar’s LA rabbi, Sharon Brous, taught Muslims the glories of Zion in the Hartmann hasbara Institute. When I asked her for the curriculum she used & what she taught she offered me a 1 line bit of gobbledy gook that told me nothing. So no, I don’t think Ikar is for me.

      As for Kavana, it’s located across the city from where I live.

      But what makes you think that this movement has any different views of Israel, Zionism, Temple cult worship, or settlerism than more conventional Judaic practice? I strongly doubt it’s much different & I know for a fact that Sharon Brous isn’t.

      And call me “dude” one more time & you’re outa here.

  4. There is a death-wish among Israeli Jews of the settler-approving type (a majority today?). It is certainly a wish for the death of amny Palestinians, and we see this played out by “civilian” Israeli-Jews in the OPTs (“price-tag” and other violence). We see it in the acts of the police and army. we see it in the policies and practices of discrimination within Israel-48 and more abundantly in the policies and practices of the occupations, the “policing” of the Mediterranean (shooting up Palestinian fishing boats and, in internatuional waters, of internationals). death surrounds Israeli Jews, who seem made up of fire, water, earth, air, and death.

    Given the possibility that the worm may turn (UNSC might someday impose sanctions), the Israeli Jewish-settler society seems death-seeking also ibn deliberatekly seeking to enrage the rest of humankind to the point that it overcomes its long reluctance to act humanely and punishes Israel. (I find it hard to imagine that such a turn-around would or could be carried out without a lot of killing, a lot of death, of Jews and of others.)

  5. ‘appropriation of our traditions’:
    if you read Jossef Flavius ‘war of the jews’, you feel a tickling of familiarity,
    when he talks about rabbi’s using religious talk as a political stance king Herod and then rolling their eyes to heaven
    (eg https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%A1%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%94_%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A2%D7%99%D7%AA
    ) or the clashes between the non jews and jews in the land.
    Traditionally, something about the jews in the holy land has explosive potential.
    Lets hope it ends differently this time.

    1. @ Lotta: You make a grievous error in trusting what’s published in some Israeli newspapers, especially on topics like this. The actual text of the resolution says nothing like what the Israeli media have been claiming, & that’s the topic of tonight’s post.

  6. @Richard: I will avoid off topic political rants, and focus on your existential angst about Judaism. Permit me to share my personal experience.

    I faced a crisis of faith long ago, for some and other reasons similar to what you describe. Although I am not comparing myself to you politically, I share your frustration with various Jewish movements. This has brought me to view my Judaism as a cultural belonging, nothing else. The cultural part also has moral dimensions, but it is purely a secular, human endeavor. The faith part is feel-good gobbledygook and good for social cohesion. It’s also good for raising kids. Now that they are grown I have no need for it any more. This is a change in comparison to my motivations when I actually made Aliyah 20 years ago.
    I am in Israel now because I culturally belong and I wish to take part in this great experiment of the Jewish people, with all its flaws. Also, “belonging” to a faith community is good for you, physically and mentally. But I don’t lie to any of my friends, they all know what I think.

    I don’t think that these problems are unique to Judaism, it’s just the one we experience as Jews. I’m sure there are Christians and Muslims who feel something similar.

    What IS unique is that Jews straddle the east and the west. The Christian western world (as well as eastern Asian countries) continues to become more secular, progressive, liberal– as shown by almost every survey. On the other hand, the east, including much of the Muslim world, is becoming more religious and conservative.

    Jews (particularly in Israel but not only)– are torn between these 2 competing, and somewhat incompatible, impulses. I think that this results in what you are describing.

    Israel is the only “westernized” country (I know that you would dispute that description) that has been becoming more religious, and it has a high birth rate (even secular people). I say it is westernized because it is basically a secular modern country with a democratic system of government. You can say and write what you want. (In comparison, just writing what I wrote above could get me arrested or harassed in some of the neighboring countries) You walk around, and people can freely do whatever they want on Shabbat, girls can dress as they please (did you know that many orthodox women here wear mini skirts, even to school or synagogue, nary a condemnation from the rabbis?). I have a giant non-Kosher supermarket that is open on Shabbat 5 minutes away from me. A Chasidic neighborhood is right next to mine, where cars drive through on Shabbat and girls walk by in shorts and sleeveless shirts and are not harassed. Young couples embrace in public parks with hardly a stare. Muslims and Christians Israelis can certainly worship as they please. Nobody goes to jail for “immodesty”, “adultery”, saying curses against god or the prophet, or collecting firewood on the Sabbath. I know you can bring examples of the opposite but they are the exception, the feeling is one of freedom.

    Yet unquestionably the proportion of religious Jews is increasing (because of birthrate) . They are becoming more influential, both the Zionist and “non-Zionist” (relatively speaking) streams. This concerns me.
    I say all of this NOT for hasbarah or as a political statement but to emphasize the issue of the tension that I am referring to. Israel and Jews straddle east and west.
    If in the future, if this place becomes too religious and oppressive– well maybe my kids will leave, but I will be dead by then so I don’t worry about it too much.

    1. @ Yehuda:

      I don’t think that these problems are unique to Judaism, it’s just the one we experience as Jews. I’m sure there are Christians and Muslims who feel something similar.

      First, I would dispute that. While I’m certain there are pockets of Muslims and Christians who have crises of faith and either seek new innovative approaches to them or else leave them entirely, what is happening in the Jewish community is far more evident. ONe of the main reasons is that there are so many fewer of us. When 10 Jews give up on their religion it’s the same as 100 or 1000 times that number doing so within those other religions. Plus, there are many more Jews who are frustrated with their religions enough to either try to forge a new path or give up entirely–than there are Muslims or CHristians similarly inclined.

      The Christian western world (as well as eastern Asian countries) continues to become more secular, progressive, liberal– as shown by almost every survey.

      NOt only is this wrong, it’s racist. The west is no more secular, progressive or liberal than anywhere else in the world. Are U.S. attacks on the Muslim world which have killed millions “liberal” or “progressive?” Are U.S. evangelicals, who make up 30% of the U.S. population liberal, secular or progressive?

      On the other hand, the east, including much of the Muslim world, is becoming more religious and conservative.

      Not true at all. There are intense campaigns in the west that correspond to this brewing religious zealotry. It’s not just an eastern or Muslim pheonomenon. Not to mention that Israel is a part of this. So if the religious revivalism is eastern or Muslim, then Israel is much closer to that than it is to the so-called secularism of the west (a claim I reject).

      it is westernized because it is basically a secular modern country with a democratic system of government.

      This too is patently false. It’s been completely devastated here as an argument. I’m not going to repeat myself ad nauseam. So stop with this hasbara nonsense. I have no more stomach for it.

      You walk around, and people can freely do whatever they want on Shabbat, girls can dress as they please

      In wide swaths of Orthodox communities all over the country this is absolutely false. In fact, an Israeli TV presenter was physically assaulted in Mea Shearim, while wearing modest garb.

      Muslims and Christians Israelis can certainly worship as they please.

      Except when Lehava & its pogromists assault them, try to burn down their churches. While Muslim cannot worship as they please because Israel controls who is designated as a Muslim imam & rejects candidates it disapproves us. That is NOT religious freedom.

  7. I would add some wisdom from our Buddhist friends, that nothing is permanent and the source of our suffering is our attachments. History waxes and wanes, nothing stays the same, and we never know whether anything in particular will lead to good or bad. There are events– and how we interpret them as “good” or “bad” — is in our heads.
    So right now things are not going the way you want, maybe in the future they will. Or if they were going well know that would change too, since nothing is forever.
    So we focus on doing what we can do but accept what is.

  8. @Richard: But in your statements you truly look only at the half empty, and make that the “ikkar”. I am not just using pop psychology. But if there is an occasional or rare “newsworthy” incident of some sort, is that the reality or every day that it does NOT happen?. It’s like news in general. News is news because it’s the exception. We don’t have screaming headlines everyday saying “Today Nobody was Murdered”, or “Today there was no civil war in Sri Lanka”, or “A Jew did not kill an Arab today”, “There was no nuclear war today”, etc. What would be the result if you counted up all of the “good” headlines that are never published vs. the “real” headlines? You would conclude that things are better than they seem. This is not Polyannish. Is your criteria for when things are good, that “bad” acts go down to zero? All you can claim when you mention something bad that has happened is that the incidence is not zero.

    “there are many more Jews who are frustrated with their religions…”
    Are saying this with some backing?
    It may feel that way to you since you are embedded in that world. But I don’t know what the evidence is for that objectively. We also know that very small minorities have more pressure and incentive to assimilate their identity with the dominant culture of their society. But if you look at the polls below you see that Christians are leaving their identity in large numbers. That is less evident for Muslims.

    As far as trends in the Christian west and elsewhere– this is absolutely true and borne out but many surveys.


    I object to you calling me a racist or a liar for bringing objective facts by quoting respectable polls from credible sources. You can argue with the source, but I am not lying or being a racist for mentioning it.

    As far as US wrongdoings, you conflate secular liberalism with “all good”. I didn’t say that “bad” is disappearing in the west and increasing elsewhere.

    They are TRENDS, it doesn’t mean that the opposite doesn’t exist. Often, the extremist movements are a reaction to the mainstream change. This is definitely happening among Heredim, who slowly have been moving towards integration, with the violent resistance of a noisy but small minority.

    1. @ Yehuda: How is that you managed to find the Pew poll which you claim shows Christians deserting their religion when the same company, Pew, published a widely-circulated poll showing the younger generation of Jews turning away from Israel and religiosity, becoming more secular. Further, it wouldn’t matter if half of Christians left Christianity. Compared to the number of Jews in the world it would be a drop in the bucket. We can’t afford to lose Jews, they can. It’s as simple as that.

      You are a racist for making false, defamatory claims (not objective at all) about Islam and the west. Your claims are based on ignorance & prejudice. You may NOT spout such nonsense here. You have not brought any polls showing that the west is liberal, democratic & progressive compared to the rest of the world. YOu have not brought any polls showing that the east or Muslim world are any more backward or religiously conservative than the west.

      I do not want to continue this debate. Do not comment further in this thread.

      1. Mr. Silverstein, your reply goes at the heart of my reply,
        you cannot discuss nor debate brainwashed people
        your uphill conversation is no different than trying to convert a trump follower
        samo samo

  9. I have come to the view that the State of Israel has a much stronger TOOL/ARM than any atomic or similar destructive bomb, it is called JUDAISM
    The true humble and pious judaism i grew up in and learned and lived is no more, current judaism is a gun to all our heads anyone or country who DARES issue a comment against the State of Israel is bludgeoned to death with the JUDAISM mechanism.
    The judaism practiced nowadays in and by the State of Israel has zero to do with our ancestors’ religion, NONE
    i live it day in day out in the belly of oozing racism that the State of Israel calls Judaism, whether it is against christians, arabs or even the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians who were brought here just for the merit of their wombs not because of their Judaism.
    When Judaism is used between jews to discriminate the positions of power and the levers of money, it is hypocrisy to view judaism as a faith or religion
    For ten years I have lived across from a religious elementary school until this year classes where mixed (boys with girls) THIS YEAR THE ABHORRENT RACISM WAS MADE OFFICIAL BY SEPARATING THE ONES FROM THE OTHERS. what is obvious to the plain eyesight the attendance level has dropped by more than half.
    I live in ashdod not mea shearim. this is RACISM PURE AND SIMPLE NOTHING TO DO WITH JUDAISM
    My grandparents and parents are twirling in their graves at the sight of this “Judaism”

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