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maculated

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PostSubject: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:44 am

I have been on a search to answer this for a long time . . . what is it I align myself with, anyway? My husband staunchly sees himself as Modern Orthodox (though were are not totally frum in the observance sense of it) and I sit kind of on the cusp of it.

In practice, we are more "Orthodox" than any Reform or Conservative Jews I personally know in life (except for a couple Conservative Converts). But since I know "practice" really doesn't define an ideology, while I think most people take me for Orthodox, I feel like the specifically defining alliance for me is Torah-at-Sinai.

I simply don't accept the premise that HaShem wrote the Torah directly through Moses. Never will. I'm also not creationist.

My husband doesn't care about the former question and he is creationist.

But then I asked an Orthodox Rabbi this question (Josh Yuter, he was doing a podcast that somewhat addressed this) and he left me with a vague impression that basically it's really only perception through practice that draws the line. Like, if you walk into a synagogue and there is no mechitza, you're not in an Orthodox synagogue. But there are Orthodox synagogues that don't have kosher mechitzas so . . .

And I sit there and just scratch my head - what makes me what? How do you define for yourself your affiliation?
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:02 am

...And there are congregations with a mechitza that would not be considered "Orthodox" by someone like Rabbi Yuter (I've read and listened to him enough to have a sense of his haskafa) because they allow women to read Torah or lead some services. A "partnership" minyan of that sort meets just about a mile from my house and although I've learned at a joint Tikkun Leil Shabbat with them and some of that minyan's families were formerly members of either of my two minyanim, I have never attended one of their services.

I also know quite a few Orthodox Jews who believe in evolution. And I know Conservative Jews who believe in "Torah mi-Sinai", although probably not that the Talmud was given to Moses at Sinai. So if you are determined to find a "shibboleth", I suppose the belief that the "Oral Torah" was given to Moses at Sinai (and just written down much later) probably distinguishes even the most traditional Conservative Jews from Orthodox Jews. I wouldn't be surprised if some of my more open-minded, progressive Orthodox friends might not also have some doubts about "Talmud from Sinai" as well, but it is not something I would ever ask most Jews. (I think many of the "believers" would be upset and scandalized to even be asked the question.) I know that a Baalat Teshuva friend completely believes in "Talmud from Sinai" because she has stated very adamantly that she was not taught the "truth" about that by the Conservative movement. (She grew up in a non-kosher Conservative home and attended and was a counselor at Camp Ramah, but went to an Orthodox high school and later became Orthodox as an adult).

But I think it is foolish to try to put various kinds of Judaism on a one-dimensional scale from atheist to ultra-Orthodox or to think that you could create a "test" of yes/no questions that would determine affiliation. It is a lot more complicated than that even if admittedly most of the people in all groups could be classified rather simply. But there is overlap of movements despite the fact that some Orthodox Jews do not want to acknowledge any overlap because they feel the need to see anything Conservative as being necessarily totally wrong (and contaminating!)

This is why many of the young Jews in "independent minyanim" resist categorization. One such young woman I know calls herself "post-denominational". She is a "kid" from my primary minyan who is now her late 20's and is a "gabbai" (coordinator) of Kehilat Hadar, perhaps the most well known of the "independent minyanim" since it is the one started by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer who wrote the book "Empowered Judaism". She did K-8 at a Conservative day school, 9-12 at an Orthodox high school, and grew up in a Shomer Kashrut/Shabbat home. She was upset when the remnant of our minyan's "host shul" joined the minyan and insisted that we affiliate with USCJ---she was very proud of our "independent" status.


Last edited by Debbie B. on Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:10 am; edited 2 times in total
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:12 am

I like it. I guess that's the approach I'm taking - resisting a label. I have a friend here who is "punk Orthodox" and we just call ourselves the Mountain Jews. :)

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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:53 am

Hmmm, I wonder where I will be or stand on this subject in the future.
Did you always feel this way? Did it change with time, after study, a lecture or marriage? Is this change common with converts? Do some start off with one affiliation then change to another? I know I personally have changed my wanting to be Orthodox to MO for various reasons. Whats a punk orthodox? Thx
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:56 am

For me, it was sort of starting off thinking only Orthodox was the way and the distinctions of modern and charedi were still mystifying to me. I found myself kind of trying to "brainwash myself" into buying everything for the sake of doing it until I simply couldn't anymore and then researched Conservative. I agree with the Conservative movement's approach to things, it's just the actual community of individuals I don't align with. I don't really see myself changing from this, though I will say that I think prospective gerim really have no idea for a few years about the turmoil and choices they're making - especially if they choose one movement and learn solely within that movement.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:15 am

Do you think it would be easier for a prospective gerim study all movements before converting? Would a Beit Din accept the differing views and continue the conversion process regardless?
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:49 am

I definitely think that prospective gerim should learn about all the movements before converting. I've heard that in some areas there are joint conversion classes in which Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis teach about their movement and the students visit different synagogues. I think it is best to learn about a movement from people in the movement itself. I would not put too much stock in what someone who is affiliated with one movements says about another movement. I have come across Jews of all the denominations who believe things about the other denominations that are completely not true. And some Jews are very biased against Jews who are different from themselves. Personally, I think that different kinds of Judaism serve different needs of different kinds of people and that there is something good about each denomination.

There will be a different Beit Din for conversion under the auspices of each major movement or group (there are many different kinds of Orthodox groups which have their own conversion courts and may not accept each other). So the convert should figure out which movement best expresses his/her Judaism and then will come before the Beit Din of that movement, so there should be no discrepancy between views of the convert and Beit Din. The sponsoring rabbi should make sure that there is no issue like that before deciding that the prospective convert is ready.

There have been attempts to create joint Batei Din across movements so that the conversions would be more widely acceptable (with the exception of some haredi groups, of course). The was one attempt in the 1970's in Denver to have a joint Beit Din for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, but the attempts have always fallen apart.
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ilovetchotchkes

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PostSubject: Re: What defines your movement?   Mon May 28, 2012 12:33 pm

Debbie B. wrote:
I definitely think that prospective gerim should learn about all the movements before converting. I've heard that in some areas there are joint conversion classes in which Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis teach about their movement and the students visit different synagogues. I think it is best to learn about a movement from people in the movement itself. I would not put too much stock in what someone who is affiliated with one movements says about another movement. I have come across Jews of all the denominations who believe things about the other denominations that are completely not true. And some Jews are very biased against Jews who are different from themselves. Personally, I think that different kinds of Judaism serve different needs of different kinds of people and that there is something good about each denomination.

There will be a different Beit Din for conversion under the auspices of each major movement or group (there are many different kinds of Orthodox groups which have their own conversion courts and may not accept each other). So the convert should figure out which movement best expresses his/her Judaism and then will come before the Beit Din of that movement, so there should be no discrepancy between views of the convert and Beit Din. The sponsoring rabbi should make sure that there is no issue like that before deciding that the prospective convert is ready.

There have been attempts to create joint Batei Din across movements so that the conversions would be more widely acceptable (with the exception of some haredi groups, of course). The was one attempt in the 1970's in Denver to have a joint Beit Din for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, but the attempts have always fallen apart.


I think this is a phenomenal idea. If i were converting now, I'd convert conservative, because that's simply how my level of observance runs, but the shul I attend is Reform, and I LOVE it there. So that's where I converted through. I didn't have an experience with Orthodox Judaism until 2+ years AFTER I converted.

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