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Letters week of Dec. 16, 2010
Editor's Note: In the Nov. 23 Jewish Exponent, Rabbi Isabel de Koninck opened a community conversation about the future of the synagogue and the denominations. We invited your responses, and many, like those here, have come in. To read the original online, go to: www.jewishexponent.com/article/22416/. E-mail your view (under 200 words) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of Jews Are Seeking What Religion Means
Five years ago, a friend of mine asked me, "Are you supposed to be doing that!?" as I chomped down on a bacon double cheeseburger. "You're Jewish, right?"
My answer was, "Yeah, but I'm Conservative. We keep kosher in my parents' home, but I don't do that."
It felt like the right answer. Good thing my friend didn't ask the next question: What's a Conservative Jew? I didn't know. I still don't.
I'll make a safe guess that my parents, their friends and their friends' children who grew up with me in Hebrew school don't know either. I'll make an even riskier -- but still safe -- guess that your average Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jew also doesn't know what approaches are "kosher," or how the tradition has changed since it was all handed down at Sinai.
Since my cheeseburger chomping days, I've realized that I needed more answers and more connection than a denomination could contain. I needed a relationship with God and my people that made sense -- one based on 3,000 years of knowledge initiated by the source of wisdom Himself.
Just one last guess: There are many more today who need the same. But don't call us post-denominational. Call us pre-denominational.
Bookkeeper and grant writer
Jewish Heritage Programs
Are We Really in a Post-Denominational Era?
The Jewish community has failed to adapt to the rise of multicultural, to say nothing of interfaith, marriages in American society. All of the movements should be funding outreach programs exclusively devoted to bringing in new members, but the reality is these programs are funded on a limited basis -- or not funded at all.
The majority of synagogue administrations have a platform that can be summarized this way: "You are either born a Jew or not. If you were not born a Jew, then you are not a Jew."
How is such a platform inclusive? If current synagogue members refuse to change their ideological philosophies, they will continue to lose influence in their surrounding communities. Leadership should be spreading the word of God, not shunning people at the door.
These Ladies Have Talked Tiles Through the Years
One of the bricks along a new pathway of Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell proclaims "I love mahj mornings" (Cover Story: "Talking Tiles Through the Years," Dec. 2).
I can say without hesitation that I truly love my Friday mahj mornings at my synagogue with my mahj ladies.
We started playing almost 10 years ago while our children attended preschool. The oldest of those children will enter high school in the fall. The youngest of our children is in the 3-year-old class.
We have been through the births of children together, danced at each other's 40th birthday parties, cried at parents' funerals, lent support in various situations and celebrated at many B'nai Mitzvahs.
We all have sets that have a story. One set has a sticker from a defunct airline. Another set has ashtrays built into the racks. Some tiles are ivory; others a bright pink. All of the sets have been touched by other women who like us loved their mahj and their mahj friends.
We mostly play at our synagogue because it just feels right. Our cantor and rabbi often stop by to kibitz with us. We are a Friday-morning fixture and hope to continue to be fortunate enough to have many more mahj mornings to love.