Jul 2, 2012

[crosspost from Shefa] Proposing Asafsuf 5773 - a response to Rabbi David's call

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Date: Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Shalom Chevreh,

First of all, Kudos to Adam Frank for sparking the conversation, Ilana Rosansky for making sure we all saw it by forwarding it to the list, and David Kay, for reminding us that internal self-gratification/flagellation is the very problem Shefa was born (in Dec. 2004) to combat. 

When Shefa emerged, it was, as inaugural ShefaConference keynote speaker Rabbi Ira Stone pointed out, the first time a convening happened in the Conservative Movement that one group (rabbis, women, etc...) didn't invite another. It was a 'simple' gathering of Conservative Jews, or, in ShefaSpeak, "a conversation of parity."

As Rabbi Steven Wernick has recently explained the USCJ is not the Conservative Movement, nor is it the organization for Conservative Jews, but rather its focus is:

"...on four core functions: strengthening and transforming kehillot; creating an integrated and collaborative learning paradigm; reaching out to young adults; and nurturing new and emerging communities. (NY Jewish Week, June 26)"

David's call for a one-day conference is a call for a rally, not a retreat; a moment of spontaneous combustion whose focus is NOT kehillot, creating paradigms, young adults, nor nurturing communities. It would be a gathering of Passionate Conservative/Masorti Jews beyond borders. If Orlando (where David serves as a rabbi) or Chicago (where oodles of good Masorti stuff happens) won't work, then I'm glad to offer Berkeley as a venue. If a Shefanik is willing to (perhaps using Kickstarter) handle logistics, let's gather to rally around Masorti Messaging and good old, non-hierarchical Masorti Torah. If this is to succeed, it likely shouldn't be cosponsored by any Conservative Institutions, but rather should be the destination no Masorti Leader can afford to miss.

The only way this will happen is if someone from the grassroots level steps forward without an institutional agenda and says they'll help lead. That would be awesome. I propose the date of Feb 3 for an inaugural non-institutional "Asafsuf 5773" (see Num. 11:4 & the Mighty Rumpus of Sendak z"l). My community, Congregation Netivot Shalom, will host and help coordinate the Torah-content if someone else steps up to own the other logistics. Who's ready to be that all-important "Yop" (see Gen 2:9 & the Whoville Savior of  Dr. Seuss z"l)?

Who's in?

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

ps. check out my new Yom Kippur kids' book "Avodah: A Yom Kippur Story" -  a rhyming riff on the kohen gadol's perspective of the Avodah service! (click here!)

On Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 10:31 AM, David Kay <david@goldmankay.net> wrote:

H.evre --

The recent discussion generated by Adam Frank's "I Believe" essay and the linked article on whether there are too many congregations underscores for me the words of the late Walt Kelly, uttered more popularly through is comic strip creation, Pogo: "We has met the enemy, and he is us."

Personally, I both agree and disagree with various of Rabbi Frank's points regarding Conservative Judaism and his perception of its perception among the laity (and, it would appear from the responses, among the clergy as well). But that's not the point which bothers me -- actually profoundly upsets me to the brink of depression.

That point is simply this: despite its call to rattle cages, be unapologetic, be passionate, and inspire, Adam's manifesto and all the responses it generated (including his own) amount to no more than all of, the self-appointed "best and brightest," once again talking among ourselves.

This, more than anything else, defines what's ailing our movement . . . l'fi aniyut da'ati.

By now, many of you who have grown weary of my harping on this point are ready to tune me out (or already have :) ). I would only add, then, that we consider this:

How many years now has Shefa been in existence? How many times have we had these same conversations? What substantive progress has been made as a result?

There is a well-known quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that insanity may be defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. What's needed, I will continue to insist, is doing something ELSE. At the very least, it means agreeing that we've done more than enough analysis, getting off our collective backside, and doing what needs to be done -- without fear, without looking over either shoulder to see if we have the approval of other denominations, and above all without apology for being who and what we are.

So here and now, I will again propose Step One: a U.S. national (or perhaps North American) one-day rally in a central location (I would propose Chicago).

Discuss . . . and by that I don't mean criticize or red-light. I mean, if you think it's not a good idea, make it a better one. And if you think it IS a good idea, then STILL make an even better one.


Rabbi David Kay
Congregation Ohev Shalom
Maitland, Florida (Orlando)
(407) 298-4650, ext. 115


" The Lord's kindness is attracted to gayety. A joyful person is usually blessed with plenty, even though he may be impious. A sad person is usually in want, even though he be God-fearing."
(Simcha Bunim of Parsischa
"The Wisdom of Israel"
ed. Lewis Browne)
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