From where I sit, social distancing is sticking a knife into the heart of Conservative Judaism.
Rather than walking in, we now are Zooming in.
“I’m not going to talk about aspects of the Torah portion, or the Haftorah reading,” the associate rabbi said on Passover’s seventh day. Instead, he described participating in an Internet discussion with folks afflicted by – or affected by – the pandemic’s virus.
Comforting, yes, but not at all connected to Judaism.
Prior to the shul’s closure, I had been studying to do one Haftorah myself. I gave up on the project when the shul was closed, but am determined to learn the notes (tropes) to be able to do another when things get back to normal.
imagine my reaction when the introductory and concluding Haftorah blessings were sung by a cantor, and the section was read -in English. Even the most feebly trained bar mitzvah boy does a few lines in Hebrew.
Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Despite the congregation’s 150-plus year history, it’s clergy have self described us as part of Progressive Jewry for some time. Here is the picture they draw:
Judaism’s first millenium or so – up until the Roman Diaspora in 70 CE – was Temple-centric. Festivals were celebrations involving sacrifices – at the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.
its second age – from 70 to either 1800, or to World War 2, depending on how you count – was Rabbinic-Centric. Laws were set, and practices regulated by rabbis in various lands and smaller communities. Thus emerged various interpretations of Kashrut for year round and Passover use.
With advent of the Enlightenment (1700’s) in Europe, followed by industrialization (1800’s), especially in Germany, large numbers of Jews chose secularization over insularity. By mid century, much of Germany was Reformed.