Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pluralism in Israel?

Rabbi Michael Marmur, the Reform Rabbi who gave the d'var torah the Shabbat that we were in Jerusalem, has some interesting comments on the issue of pluralism in Israel in a Thursday, July 30th blog for the Jerusalem Post. One of the key paragraphs is as follows:
In one session, a panel comprising principals from four Israeli schools discussed dilemmas of pluralism as they encounter them every day in the field. It is interesting to note that this discussion included important figures from the Modern Orthodox community, as well as the "usual suspects." Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the divisions in Israeli society are not between those who belong to one team and those who belong to another - the Sharks against the Jets, Middle East Side Story. Rather, the conflict is between those who insist on imposing their will exclusively on the rest of us, and those of us who prefer to live in the midst of difference and diversity.
Read the whole thing and tell me what you think!

Thanks, Neal, for sending the link!


Mikewind Dale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikewind Dale said...

I like Rabbi Marmur's sentiments. We could further note that according to Malbim, when the Torah says (Genesis 11:1) that the people of Bavel/Shinar (Sumeria?) were of שפה אחת ודברים אחדים, it means not that they had one vernacular language, but rather, that their *thoughts* were one, that there lack of intellectual diversity, using ibn Ezra's interpretation of the Tower being a flag, a rallying point to ensure unity and commonality. This would dovetail nicely with Rabbi Hirsch's attempt to read the story of the Tower of Bavel as a story of totalitarian domination of the individual, with the individual made a cog in the enterprise (one brick would fall and all would cry, one man would fall and no one would, etc.), and the idolatrous vainglory of the nation-state being elevated on a pedestal (using again ibn Ezra's interpretation of the Tower being a flag, a rallying point), waging war against the image of G-d in man (using the Midrashic idea of the Tower being built to invade heaven).

According to Malbim's interpretation, G-d was displeased with the Tower being such a rallying point (ibn Ezra), with people having few thoughts. G-d told us to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, not to settle one section and be all the same. G-d wanted us to have multiple languages, and so when we frustrated His goal, He forced it upon us.

In any case, I've recently been enamoured by the possibility of Balkan Sephardism educating us regarding how true pluralism might be achieved. See my Importing Reformism Into Israel and my Judgmentalism in Orthodoxy - The Shiddukh Crisis.

I've also recently written a forty-page essay covering everything from how Orthodox Jews should relate to the non-observant, to how sociology can influence pesak halakhah towards a polemic tendency, to how contemporary Haredism is not an authentic representation of authentic traditional Eastern European Orthodoxy (much less Judaism generally), and finally how Balkan Sephardism offers us a model for our salvation. I just haven't yet found what to do with this essay. The first eight pages of the forty have been published by Rabbi Marc Angel's Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals as Thoughts on Kashruth Certification Policies.