Sunday, February 03, 2008

Coffee In Hand

One thing I really enjoy about Sundays, is the ability to get things done. Laundry, emails, reading, errands and the joy of sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of joe.

I recognize that it has been quite some time since I last wrote. No excuses, just haven't done it. In fact, I haven't been doing much writing since I got back from Israel last August. I sometimes wonder if it is due to the fact that I don't have much to write about or that because I am not writing I am not allowing myself to process and think much of the way I have been doing within the last year.

I have missed that critical thinking aspect of myself and so I have signed up for a class in Radical Jewish thought being offered at a near by Jewish social justice co-op called the Kavod House (translation: house of respect). I am facilitating this afternoon's discussion about how radical Judaism and Jewish identity are understood and described in the articles we were assigned to read.

While I find the articles facinating, I can't say I agree with much of what is said. One article, by the Jews for Urban Justice, argues for a democratic socialist society which is comprised of autonomous religious, cultural, ethinic, and political communities that live side by side without a nationalized education system or capitalistic environment that makes them all conform to one train of thought. They fault mainstream education, political and capatalistic systems for the breakdown of culture, heritage and identity in communities such as the Jewish community among the Appalacian Native tribes, etc... They want to reclaim autonomy on religious practice (an evolved halakah--Jewish law, that incorporates egalitarian and humanitarian ideologies), a renewal of Yiddish as a common language for Jewish communities originally from E. Europe, and a new emphasis of pride and education in Jewish history, culture and practice. While I am all for a renewal of education and tradition and embracing an evolutionized halachic system, my questions lie in the realities of such environments with the polarization of Jews in N. America in various communities and if this can only happen when nationalized systems are broken down.

It seems as if the Jews for Urban Justice blame the deconstruction of the richness of Jewish community in the 'Americanized system' that whitewashes cultures to make a unified peoplehood that by default strips many of their past. By I want to challenge that idea with the statement that the fault cannot lie solely with such a system. If these things are truly important to an individual (i.e. Yiddish, Hebrew, Jewish education, Jewish songs, literature, etc...) than a personal responsibility must also come into play. It is the responsibility of the individual and the community to which that individual belongs to make these things a priority and therefore stress their place and importance. It is my frustration that the article overlooks this element of personal responsibility and it furthermore upsets me that these things are seen of such low priority by others that for many they will disappear.

I am interested in seeing how the conversations this evening go and to participate in this class over the next few months. I will be sure to keep you up to date.

The election for many is just around the corner and it has been a never ending conversation among friends with the overall message that they aren't looking at who is the most qualified democrat, but who is the democrat who can beat John McCain. I have already placed my vote by absentee, and I wish my girl Hillary luck on Tuesday.

I have gotten to do a lot of traveling in the last couple of months visiting good friends in D.C., NY and Chicago. I think it is time to stay put and get to know Boston/New England a bit more.

New photos are up on my flickr site (link on the right hand side of this page)

Happy Voting to you--Shirah