Kiruv or Brainwashing-Whatever works

I have been following some of the conversations on the Cross Currents blog with some interest. Much of it grabs me and some of it just irks me. In particular I was disturbed to read about an exchange in which Conservative and Reform Judaism was referred to as Judaism’s Naqba.

The particular post I just linked to spoke about the problem this creates, but it didn’t really hit a number of key points.

There is power in words and some terms should not be bandied about without regard for the impact that they hold. These words evoke meaning, emotion and passion and when they are used with regularity they begin to lose their power and their ability to make the listener sit up straight and pay attention.

If Naqba is indeed the term that this person thought would be appropriate I am very disappointed in him. It is offensive, arrogant, misguided and I have little respect for someone who would make comments like this because he shows no respect for myself or others.

When PETA used “Holocaust” as part of an ad campaign they tried to present their cause of promoting animal welfare as being morally equivalent to human life. Animals are important and I am against animal abuse, but they are not morally equivalent to humans. They are not as important and never will be.

It would be wrong to allow the term to be co-opted by PETA or other organizations for something that is less than what it has come to represent. What happened in Rwanda or Kosovo is something merits being associated with Holocaust.

Going back to the topic, Naqba is a poor description because in essence it suggests that an entire set of philosophy is not just flawed, but horrifically wrong. And I cannot help but wonder what the intent of such a statement is. What is the end goal of such comments.

If you hope to create more BTs such commentary is not real likely to do it, or at least from my perspective it is not likely to bring the cream of the crop.

I was raised in a Conservative shul but I wouldn’t consider myself Conservative. I don’t claim to be a part of the Reform and I am not what you can call MO, Chassidic or anything else. At the moment I am an Independent. If I had to guess where I might end up I would say that it is not hard to see myself as becoming MO, but that is a ways off and who knows what can happen in between.

In any case one of the complaints/criticisms that are leveled at the more observant is that they are not free thinkers, that they have no independence and cannot move away from their selected dogma.

I want to be a part of a group that fosters community, but I want to be a part of something that treasures independent thought as well.

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  1. Jack's Shack January 12, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    Times are changing, I wonder what the changes will bring.

  2. Barefoot Jewess January 12, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    I affiliate Conservative. I found the entire article offensive, but not unusual.

    The thought especially of “outreach” (i.e., proselytising) Jews is mind boggling, and beyond the pale. Such hubris.

    And this is the most offensive to me: and I am not aware of any outreach program that specifically reaches into the Reform or Conservative communities – as compared to the unaffiliated – in order to kindle interest in Torah.I reeeeeally wonder how many of those spreading this have actually lived inside a C or R community or have any knowledge whatsoever about them . To “kindle an interest in Torah”? That statement would be insulting if it were not so ludicrous.

    I suggest that the critics experience the C and R world, in depth, before they are entitled to give an opinion. And even then, you gotta be rather crazed to want to draw people away from their communities.

    You know, I have not encountered anyone in my community who actually cares about the opinions of any other movement- we are too busy living a Torah based Jewish life, and reaching out to Jews without community.

    I am on the net so I can comment, but largely, in my experience, the net does not impinge on the consciousness of most Jews I know. In other words, the outreach is a joke. No one I know would take it seriously.

    And, IMO, kiruv to other, religious&pious/affiliated (non-O) Jews undermines the Jewish community. But I bet they can’t imagine that you can be religious/pious as a non-O Jew. Heh. I am here to tell them all differently.

    Net opinions are a joke where other movements are concerned. Heh, we have not felt your hand. In Real Life, we have only felt the desire of both Orthodox and Liberal streams to find a bridge (which actually happened on my trip to Israel, even tho I thought it sucked).

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