I have been home and busy writing this week but what did I get from the comments so far? I got some useful comments from EJ, Aryeh Tepper, and Lipchitz (a pseudonym of an author who may go public). I have also received private emails from people who did not comment but write on both sides of the divide. This may go very public soon. Let’s see if we can gain any further clarity? Is there an editorial policy to trash renewal/indie/neo-hasidism? Why are both sides talking past each other? Is there a real fault line that transcends denominational lines?
R. Landes seems to be someone who has left the neighborhood of his childhood, and if you accept the importance of small differences has stretched considerably from his initial upbringing. But from what I see, he has a mindset where Orthodoxy, both Charedi and Modern are looking over his shoulder.
With R. Arthur Green it’s different; he got on the bus in a secular neighborhood, a place which for many looks like close to the end of the line. .. The place his trajectory never visited was Orthodoxy. As a result he has no feel for living Chasidim,.. His Chasidim are all dead, known primarily through their books. He owes Orthodoxy nothing, he doesn’t care much what Orthodox Jews think, and most importantly he is not addressing those who look to Orthodoxy as an essential starting point for their Judaism.
Part of Arthur Green’s continued surprise at the Landes criticism is that he is being given no credit for attempting to keep the outer rings of American Jewry connected to its origins, when they have no memories or experience of Jewish life. If his teaching is to be credible he must include a universalist element.
I do think that ej is correct and perceptive on many of his points.
Lipchitz (may he speedily lose his anon) wrote:
The connecting, instigating, controlling link is the Tivkah Fund [and Neal Kozodoy (who used to run Commentary)].
The Tikvah Fund is a very wealthy, rightwing philanthropy with deep corporate pockects and neoconservative roots.
If you do a bit of digging online, the person you’ll find most interesting is Roger Hertog, who is Chairman of the Board at Tikvah.
Many out there in the community of academics, rabbis, and journalists share Lipchitz’s perspective.
Aryeh Tepper wrote
To set the record straight, there is absolutely no editorial policy at Jewish Ideas Daily when it comes to these issues
I did not present the issue – or at least I didn’t intend to present the issue – as an either/or. I am in deep sympathy with certain dimensions of post-denominational Judaism precisely because revitalizing the tradition is far more important than defining it, which is what usually happens within institutional frameworks
I find the notion of zohar=universal eros to be compelling, and it is in tune with certain notions emerging from the Renewal Movement regarding the ‘meaning’ of Divinity.
Landes attacks a non-personal God, but as a student of the Rambam, not to mention the mystical tradition, I don’t see a non-personal God as a problem
I think the common denominator is that all the pieces critique Jewish Renewal, Indie minyanim, etc., for their lack of clarity as well as an immature sense of communal responsibility. Those values – clarity and a mature sense of communal responsibility.
you’ll see that I’m more than willing to engage in dialogue. For Waskow, however, I, and those like me, are a-priori disqualified as interlocutors because we question whether the historical process that he considers to be progress and that issues in Jewish Renewal, is, in fact, progress.
And this I think helps answer your question as to why defenders of Jewish Renewal argue so emotionally.. one only opposes what is clearly true out of willful blindness.
Aryeh likes Zohar, piyyut and all the other avenues of renewal. But what really gets his goat is the a-priori progressiveness, as if their positions superseded other positions. I can accept that as someone who does not want to be a-priori superseded.
Like so many of the negative critiques that appear in Jewish Ideas Daily and in the Jewish Review of Books. Instead of substantive disagreement, we get a lot of ad-hominem invective, name-calling, sniping and snide innuendo about Jewish Renewal, or Independent Minyanim, or Arthur Green, or Liberalism, or secular forms of Judaism, or J Street.
As for “clarity,” Aryeh, I simply cannot take at face value your assurance that there are no hidden neoconservative orthodoxies dictating editorial policy at Jewsih Ideas Daily (or for that matter at the Jewish Review of Books); certainly not if Neal Kozodoy, the old editor in chief from Commentary, is running things on staff at JID
Please understand that there are many people out there who are very upset by this uncivil tone and lack of transparency.
OK, we are now back to the starting point of my post. Even if one side thinks they superseeded the other and is emotional, nevertheless, why the seeming editorial direction? Why the uncivil tone in some of the reviews? (Editors are responsible for editing for tone)