The Conspiracy

Orthodox abuse exemptions; liberal zionism; spiritual misconceptions; and more. [Required Reading]

Are there serious misconceptions about the spiritual life? | Photo by Flickr user thekellyscope (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Tradition, innovation, and Jewish Renewal [Zeek]

This interview with author and scholar Chava Weissler explores Weissler’s latest book on ancient Jewish women’s prayers. Weissler also talks about her study of Jewish Renewal and the creation of Havurot (and the differences between the two approaches to Judaism),  her relationship to Israel through the years, and more:

“Yes! I often use the following metaphor: the Havurah movement represents the Misnagdim and the Renewal movement the Hasidim of the Jewish counter-culture. The style of the Havurah movement is more cognitive, and the style of Renewal is more expressive and devotional. Also, the Havurah movement has a deep aversion to the ‘rebbe’ model, while the Renewal movement has seen it as a way into a heightened spirituality.”

 Orthodox abuse exemptions? [Forward]

There’s not much to say here that the Forward doesn’t say already, except, “Huh?” The Jewish Daily Forward reports:

“Rejecting a Forward request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law, the Brooklyn district attorney made the startling claim that Orthodox Jews deserve a blanket exemption from the usual public disclosure rules. Prosecutors claimed that Orthodox Jews are “unique” in that releasing the names of suspects would allow others in the community to identify their victims.

‘The circumstances here are unique,’ Assistant District Attorney Morgan Dennehy wrote in an April 16 letter to the Forward. ‘Because all of the requested defendant names relate to Hasidic men who are alleged to have committed sex crimes against Hasidic victims within a very tight-knit and insular Brooklyn community, there is a significant danger that the disclosure of the defendants’ names would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims.'”

Liberal Zionists and the future [Huffington Post]

In the first of a series of new articles on the ideas and actions of liberal Zionists, Leonard Fein explores what motivates this group, how “liberal Zionist” isn’t an oxymoron, and more.

“According to Israel’s pro-settler right-wing camp, there is no moral difference between post-1967 settlement in and control over the West Bank territory on the one hand, and the pre-1948 settlement of the territory that has become the sovereign State of Israel, on the other. Both are equally valid expressions of Zionist determination.

Alas, that argument cuts both ways: While right-wingers think its logic irrefutable and its conclusion — a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River — perfectly obvious, they fail to note that the very same logic can be used to derive precisely the opposite conclusion. As Hagit Ofran points out in her essay below, ‘by invoking Zionism in support of the settlements and the occupation, the right wing is joining the biggest opponents of Israel, who argue that if, as they believe, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people in the territories is illegitimate, then, by logical extension, so is the entire Zionist enterprise.’ Goodbye Tel Aviv, farewell Haifa, adieu Israel.”

Being a spiritual person: the assumptions versus the realities [Reality Sandwich]

This great piece from Jay Michaelson explores the question, “How is a spiritual person supposed to act?” Addressing the assumptions, stereotypes, and in many cases, unrealistic expectations had about the spiritual life, Michaelson also takes a look at what spirituality is truly capable of:

“These misconceptions about what a spiritual life should look like doubtless alienate many cynics and skeptics from taking spirituality seriously.  Oh, let’s leave that for the soft-minded New Age people, they say.  Whereas I see them as the spiritual equivalents of a 98-pound weakling.  Such good taste in indie pop, but so infantile spiritually.  Then again, who can blame them?  With only a few exceptions (Noah Levine of ‘Dharma Punx’ comes to mind, as does Patrick Aleph of ‘Punk Torah’), most of our spiritual heroes are either Eastern sages or Western Baby Boomers.  These are people to whom most people my age (40) and under cannot relate on a personal level.  If being a good meditator means being a 60 year old psychoanalyst who lives on West End Avenue, most of my friends aren’t interested.”

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