I just want to say that while many of our debates and discussions touch on topics that are divisive and in some instances painful for some of us to discuss, I am glad and grateful that we are able to have these discussions and by the quality of the discourse that we enjoy on Jewlicious.

I think ck has created an interesting forum where we are able to express a broad range of views openly. I think having a dialogue is crucial so that we don’t presume what anybody is “about” just because they come from a particular background or espouse certain ideological views.

I hope that all of our participants, even when they may be on completely opposite sides of a topic, still enjoy the debate, learn a great deal, sharpen their arguments, and “grow” as a result of their visits here. Is there anything more enlightening than to listen to what people with different views feel and think about the very same topic about which one feels so confident?

So…thanks!

And shabbat shalom to all!!

About the author

themiddle

28 Comments

  • I totally disagree. I think your post was way too self-referential and far too self-important. I don’t mean vis-a-vis you specifically, but rather with respect to the blog. First of all we’re all nobody, calling ourselves grass roots would be pretentious. Secondly, I assume most of our commenters are adults and understand the value of unfettered discourse.

    So like … shut up and stuff, ok?

    😉

  • Dude, can’t you find a story to post, or something? How about illustrating some of our posts with images? There must be some evil-looking pics of Barenboim out there.

  • I don’t think so, although it’s a possibility.

    I thought a number of exchanges and discussions in the last weeks have taken a very harsh turn, and I wanted to mention that these are conversations where we exchange ideas, and that it’s good to have strong debates while keeping in mind that one can remain civil.

    Also, it felt nice to greet everyone just before the Sabbath.

  • Is everything okay ‘middle’? Usually, otherwise rational/normal people don’t open up and get emotional unless going through some trauma. Did a goldfish die or did you step in a large puddle?

  • Well, Jewlicious readers…let me see if I can stir the pot a little!! In the spirit of themiddle’ s musings that welcome all points of view, I chose to contribute to this post because of some of the vacuous criticism of his initial comments.

    This is my first visit to the site, which I stumbled across while searching for threads on the Dov Charney/American Apparel/Jane Magazine/”sploogefest” interview. What a freak he is–and what does it say about me? Nothing–I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I read a reference to him in today’s AOL Biggest Business Blunders of 2004 and had to validate this…which brought me to the Jewlicious site.

    Anyhow, reading the Edgar Bronfman piece and flurry of comments really got my attention. First, here’s a little about me: I’m a 45-yr-old man (yes…I know I’m old enough to be most of your father’s) that was brought up in a typically Conservative Jewish household on Long Island in the late ’60s/early-70’s. Thrice-weekly Hebrew school, High Holy Day services, Bar Mitzvah, yada, yada, yada. I was given the basics by my essentially secular Jewish (Ashkenazi) parents.

    But once I was Bar Mitzvah’d, all bet’s were off as to where my spiritual journey would take me in life. But I knew one thing–it would NOT be Judaism. Why, oh, why you ask? As Ricky said to Lucy, “Lemme ‘splain…”

    The GUILT!!! The constant haranguing, self-pity, victim-status, weakling attitude and SHAME that constitutes many of today’s religious Jewish practitioner’s here in the good ol’ USA. I came to believe that there was much more for me to pursue than what the Old Testament offers. I could not and would not subscribe to, nor identify myself with, this beleagured, tired and torchored tradition.

    After a period (15 years or so) of observation, personal reflection, investigation and general searching–I accepted the teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament. I accept him as the Messiah (who has come and will come again) and I converted to Roman Catholicism in 1992. This was a singular and personal choice for me–NO “Jews for Jesus” here (their transparent, nefarious, cult status should be obvious to anyone with a pulse.)

    Culturally (“secularly”) I find the denial (by Jews) of the over-representation of Jewish contributions in the media and society at-large i.e. Neo-con politicians and pundits, liberal Democrat’s in the US Senate, Hollywood sit-com writers, Isaac Mizrahi/Harvey Fierstein-types in fashion and B’way, The NY Times–to the point of self-flagellation over the Israeli-Palestinian crisis–(just to name a few well-worn icons) to be pure hypocrisy! Celebrate it, don’t cringe at the mention of it–but be prepared for an occasional backlash, especially by those with evil intentions. And furthermore, when the occasional headline-grabbing transgression by a Jewish “Wall Street wizard” is publicized, you can’t (then) suddenly hide behind the “Holocaust card” (as referenced elsewhere here in Jewlicious.)

    So where am I going with all of this? Back to the comments on the Bronfman piece–Israel’s Homeland status, what is a Jew (secular vs. religious), quoting Hertzel’s writings on faith, etc. Labelling one’s self as a Jew seems to me to be a matter of convenience these days–especially by the idle, wealthy progeny who are too dis-interested to even read a site like Jewlicious.

    Let’s face it–Jews are a minority and deserve to have their rights protected. And if the Chassidim are a minority-within-a-minority, YOU privileged Jewlicious bloggers are also a minority-within-a-minority. I’m not here to chastise Judaism, or prosyletize for Christianity but here’s my parting shot. Don’t be blinded by “gelt” or led into submissiveness by “guilt”–put down the Golden Calf and take up the Torah. It’s the only means to your ultimate survival!!

  • “The constant haranguing, self-pity, victim-status, weakling attitude and SHAME that constitutes many of today’s religious Jewish practitioner’s here in the good ol’ USA.”

    Okay.

    But then you post

    “I came to believe that there was much more for me to pursue than what the Old Testament offers. I could not and would not subscribe to, nor identify myself with, this beleagured, tired and torchored tradition.”

    Why not just make aliyah to Israel and live as a new Jew who rejects the type of Jew you’ve just described. They even let you play hero soldier if you ask nicely. 😉

  • Wow Jonnyangel… I just wrote about you on my site! How ironic.
    http://www.newzionist.com/index.php?p=45

    But as far as this post. I totally agree with CK, and I am exceedingly happy that there is a forum for dialogue. I feel strongly that we Jews really need to ask the hard questions of ourselves in order to progress, even if they are the painful questions. Newzionist is a big fan, keep up the good work. Big Mazel and much love.

  • Uh… did a Christian convert from Judaism just implore us to like study Torah and stuff? “It’s the only means to your ultimate survival!!”

    Man. We’re in worse trouble than I thought.

  • I just read JonnyAngel’s post twice and am still not quite sure where he is going with it. I must be more tired than I thought. But yes, we do need to study more Torah… 🙂

  • Hey Daphna! You read that comment twice??

    Mamish gevalt… so brave! And that soup and the company rocked. Thanks for shabbat lunch again!

    😉

  • To posts #13-18: Thanks for the generally polite (though off-handed) comments. Let me assure you that (as I said above) I’m not writing to chastise Judaism or prosyletize Christianity. There’s NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE ( a theme I will return to.)

    Now to expound on some of my points that were seemingly, though unintentionally, confusing…

    On the spiritual front: This blog on the Jewlicious site caused me to look in the mirror, and upon reflection, has affirmed my own personal decision to accept the gospels of the New Testament as well as Jesus as Messiah. Again, not to besmirch Judaism–I simply was not satisfied with the answers to my spiritual quest that I felt were self-limiting in the Torah. And as free as you are to say that the Messiah HASN’T come, I am just as free to declare that he HAS.

    On the cultural/political front: I opined about “the constant haranguing, self-pity, victim-status, weakling attitude and SHAME that constitutes many of today’s religious Jewish practitioner’s here in the good ol’ USA.” Well, Yoav and his New Zionist site reminded me of another characteristic that dominates and most 21st century Jewish discourse–SUSPICION and/or PRESUMPTION OF ULTERIOR MOTIVES. Just because I (one singular person with a story to tell) have reached out into the ether to share my experience–you practically equate me with fundamentalist-Christian-evangelicals and (by inference) Holocaust revisionists. (I assure all of you that’s not the case! ) Perhaps Yoav’s reaction typifies the victim-status/persecution complex that modern-day Jews embrace within society at-large, and which has also informed most of the religious traditions that have developed through the ages.

    In conclusion: When I wrote, “Don’t be blinded by “gelt” or led into submissiveness by “guilt”–put down the Golden Calf and take up the Torah. It’s the only means to your ultimate survival!!”…I mean it!! So-called secular Judaism is a myth–the only true Judaism is a matter of faith.

    Look at the political neocons (Podhoretz, Kristal, Wolfowitz, etc.) for example. They are so (obviously) ethnically Jewish yet are so spiritually bankrupt–for as much as I do agree with their U.S. patriotism AND defense of Israel, they are lost souls caught in a netherworld. When their parents’ socialist leanings of a generation-before failed to take root, they shunned the Jewish underpinnings of its foundation and ran toward the “goyim.” Because the neocon’s have no spiritual compass, they are in advertantly empowering the radical fundamentalist-Christian-evangelicals. If you are so entrenched with everything-Jewish that your privileged status affords you–then tone-down all the “falafel-talk” and open the Torah. My Catholic faith community preaches from both the Old and New Testaments.

    Earlier I wrote that I looked in the mirror and liked what I’ve become. You must look in the mirror and honestly ask if you’re comfortable in your own skin. If you aren’t seeking alternatives (as I was), then continue to seek the truth as (you understand it) through Judaism. All you twixter-cum-blogger-cum-fashionista-entrepreneur/world traveler’s–TAKE HEED! YOU MUST IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE TORAH IF YOU ARE TO SURVIVE–WHETHER HERE IN THE WEST, OR IN ISRAEL. I don’t suggest the Chassidic/Amish rejection of the secular world.

    But I urge you to be “in the world” and “of the Torah”, if you want “God’s chosen people” to exist. Just like ck has said elsewhere–Judaism is a religious community, not a race of people.

    Peace be with you!

  • I’ve just looked in the mirror.

    Yup, comfortable living in my own skin.

    I can’t wait until one of our posters who vehemently opposes generalizations reads this and responds.

  • Here’s my point, Mr. Nudnick–in your wry, ironic way (which I “get” and appreciate) you lift one phrase from my post and imply that I’m saying that you SHOULDN’T be comfortable in your skin–NOT!! Let your guard down a bit, stop trying to read between the lines, and just accept my comments as a singular contribution to this overall dialogue.

    I’ve sincerely tried NOT to generalize, but to talk in terms of my own unique experiences. And to point out (with specific examples NOT generalizations) the trangressions of others. These, I feel, illustrate a few (of many, which have been identified by observers who are more learned than me) fundamental conundrums contributing to modern-day Jewry’s possible demise.

    Beam me up, Scotty…Kirk, OUT!!

  • Wait a minute, I appreciate your efforts and thoughts. What I was trying to point out, albeit briefly, is that you do make generalizations. First, you draw conclusions about your own spirituality based upon what you encounter on this site. We really are a small corner of Jewish life in North America and Israel and I’m not sure that a blog is a place from which you can draw conclusions about a people. I get this from your “spiritual” paragraph.

    Second, in your Cultural paragraph, you make two whoppers of generalizations by alluding to two dominant “characteristics” of Judaism: the SUSPICIOUS one and the ASHAMED/VICTIM one. If you don’t mean these to be generalizations, why write:

    “Yoav’s reaction typifies the victim-status/persecution complex that modern-day Jews embrace within society at-large, and which has also informed most of the religious traditions that have developed through the ages”

    My response to you is that these are simplistic definitions of the dominant characteristics of Jews, and perhaps you are ignoring other dominant characteristics so I have to go by what you’ve written.

    However, if these are your perceptions, I consider them to be mightily negative and perhaps explain why you would want to be a non-Jew.

    I mean, if you feel cleaner or more pure as a Christian because you don’t have to deal with the ickiness of knowing that there are plenty of people who want to harm you for little good reason, and to be cautious and concerned as a result, then I can understand why you’re happy when you look in the mirror.

    When I look in the mirror, I see a far more complex person than what you describe as Jewish. MY dominant characteristics are not SUSPICION and VICTIMHOOD (not shame). Far from it. They do represent part of who I am, in part because of strong familiarity with antisemites and antisemitism as well as the history of Jews in Europe and certain Muslim lands.

    However, this is a small part of who I am and is more than amply compensated by my other interests, joys and concerns.

    I am also confused by your conclusion which is that one must behave a certain way – namely with return to the Torah – in order to survive. Is the Torah not filled with victimhood and suspicion of others?

    When I spend an evening with my family laughing about a book of Jewish short stories from Eastern Europe that deals with the poverty in the shtetl with witty and grand humor, or when I retell a biblical story in my own words – without placing upon it the weight of holiness, but rather the lightness of tradition – I am participating in an age-old tradition. You would rather paint me as someone dominated by other concerns rather than one who is able to take pleasure and see beauty in Jewish life. I’m sorry, but I can’t glean anything else from your general comment to all Jews out there to look in the mirror.

    Apparently, we Jews are supposed to heal the monster we see in the mirror by going back to the Torah. Fine, I think actually that ck and others here agree with you about this. I agree with your premise that a return to something might heal those Jews who are lost or being lost to the Jewish people, but I don’t see it in the negative terms you use. I also believe that while you stress the Torah, I fear that many others stress interpretations of the Torah. I would rather focus on Jewish culture and traditions without placing the onus of deep faith on people. But that’s just me.

  • Maybe its generational…maybe you think I’m simply dismissive of the contributions of Jews in history…maybe we’re talking at cross-purposes…maybe “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”…maybe its navel-gazing by all parties (myself included)…maybe its nothing at all but idle chatter…but I can’t help but feel that the old expression, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” is most appropriate here.

    Have your fun, play it both ways (victimized-Jew/militant-Jew) but study your Torah, your Bible–not for “literal” meanings and strict interpretations. But as a way to worship God-the-Almighty and become more spiritually-oriented. My way is through Jesus, your way calls you to wait for another One…so be it.

    Talking with your family & re-living old tales and fables is NOT uniquely Jewish–all families do this to one extent or another (why do you think its called “history”…duh! 🙂 ) Taking Biblical text and giving it a modern twist during the course of ordinary conversation is also NOT uniquely Jewish.

    What is uniquely Jewish is the covenant between God and mankind and all that has followed suit. As such, I’ve taken up the teachings of Christ for me and for my salvation. Yours will come through a different set of beliefs. But that’s my point–as much as you revel in your Jewish traditions–the perpetuation of the Jewish identity will only be manifested by a return to regular prayer and worship.

    You may choose to ignore my earlier posting that said secular Judaism is a myth, and that true Judaism is a matter of faith. However, an over-reliance on the former will lead to destruction of the latter. I have no anomosity towards Judaism but I have much disdain for those who deliver empty rhetoric in its name; feigning righteous indignation in the court of public opinion while its bloodline fails to claim its very birthright. Take up the teachings of the Torah for the sake of your future, and become a faith-filled practitioner.

    Or even..for the snarky, irony-filled crowd who need to ease into a discussion of modern observant Jews in a secular world–pick up any recent book written by Michael Medved. The world already has enough Larry David’s, Ben Stiller’s, and Melissa Rivers’…

    Ciao, baby!

  • “secular Judaism is a myth, and that true Judaism is a matter of faith.”

    Stick around, I say this often. I also usually add stuff like that there is probably no future for Jews in the US or the entire galut since we are now in the top of the ninth of the world’s existance. and if you stick around longer, you’ll also understand that when the time comes, people who left Judaism, as well as the many who didn’t even know they were Jewish, will rediscover their roots involuntarily.

    I welcome your contribution here, except for the somewhat salutations. What’s up with that?

    Dos vidania.

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