Friday, March 4, 2016

Hosting The Not (Yet) Religious

  Nothing says our goal is to make you orthodox like advertising a lecture called "Hosting the Not (Yet) Religious." On Sunday morning, March 6, 2016, Far Rockaway's Congregation Kneseth Israel, a.k.a The White Shul, will be hosting this lecture for men right after morning prayers.
  Wait, what? For men?
  Why, yes. For men. Specifically.
  Why is that? Isn't it already insulting that they're defining non-orthodox Jews as "not (yet) religious," as if their only interest is to make us orthodox? Who defines someone by what they are not? Is that all we are to them--not (yet) religious?
 Just so you know--by "religious" they mean orthodox. It doesn't matter how many aliyahs you've had at your Reform synagogue, Mr. Abramowitz, or how many times you've read the Torah in your Conservative temple, Ms. Roth. By Rabbi Motti Neuburger's standards, you're still not (yet) religious. But to answer the question. Yes, it's extremely insulting to view people who, for whatever reason, are not orthodox as "not (yet) religious." The parenthesis make the phrase sound like it's being said with a wink, as if the White Shul representatives are saying "we know they're not orthodox, but we'll take care of that!" They're not hiding their intent, at least not as far as their own congregants are concerned.
  Oh. I see. Now, about this "for men" thing. Are women invited?
  Well, the advertisement states that this is a "special shiur (lecture) for men." Women usually don't attend morning prayers in orthodox synagogues, although technically they probably could--depending on the culture of the shul and if there was a mechitza present (required divider separating the men from the women.) Since this lecture takes place immediately after shacharis (morning prayers) women probably won't be there. You see, in orthodoxy, women aren't required to pray with a minyan three times a day. Women are not permitted to say kaddish (prayers for the dead) so they don't need a quorum of ten. (In orthodoxy, women are not counted in this quorum, known as a minyan.) It is not accepted within orthodoxy for women to wear tefillin, the phylacteries that men wear during morning prayers. As I write this, I'm struck by how much this seems like a cliquish men's club which purposely excludes women.
  So, are women invited to this lecture? 
 Good question. Here's their number: (718) 327-0500 It can't hurt to ask.

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2 comments:

  1. > Isn't it already insulting that they're defining non-orthodox Jews as "not (yet) religious," as if their only interest is to make us orthodox?

    That's not the insult. They're being honest. Their main interest *is* to make people frum. The insulting part is the implication that if you're not Orthodox, you're not religious. And that you just have to be told the good news (to borrow a Christian phrase) and of course you'll become Orthodox.

    > Who defines someone by what they are not?

    Atheists (as a group) are defined by what they are not. Although, in my experience, BTs were rarely atheists, it follows the pattern.

    > As I write this, I'm struck by how much this seems like a cliquish men's club which purposely excludes women.

    Nobody designed it that way. It's a side effect of the halchos of davening having evolved before women were considered real people.

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  2. There is gender separation during prayers and the ‘men’ only is an extension of that. But is there any basis in halacha for that ? No doubt they have ‘women’ only seminars as well.

    It is incredibly condescending and arrogant ‘not yet religious’ meaning not yet Orthodox Jewish. Meaning if only those skeptics, atheists, agnostics, Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc: saw the proofs for OJ they too would be convinced of the truth of OJ. These Jews simply cant conceive they are wrong. The OJ proofs for God and OJ are slick and could be difficult for people ignorant of various academic disciplines to fully repudiate. That is one reason I started my blog.

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