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Published by: outdash2 on Jun 28, 2012
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02/01/2013

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318
16
The Future of ModernOrthodoxy
Shmuel Hain 
his paper does not aim to conduct a wholesale analysis and
heshbonhanefesh
o Modern Orthodox ideology and its adherents; others,including Rabbi Norman Lamm and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, havedone this in oundational treatments o Modern Orthodoxy.
1
Nor isit a sociological study o Modern Orthodoxy; that is let to expertsin the feld like r. Chaim . Waxman and others.
2
My goals, rather,are to impart some personal perspectives and insights about recenttrends and developments in the Modern Orthodox community, toshare some concerns about the current state o the community, and topropose some directions or re-imagining its uture.Over the last several years, the public discourse o ModernOrthodoxy has become increasingly strident in tone and narrowin ocus. Hot-button divisive issues have dominated communalconversation and continue to threaten to widen communal fssures.hese issues include women’s participation in ritual and leadership
 
The Future of Modern Orthodoxy 
31
roles, conversion standards, interaith dialogue, biblical criticism, andacceptance o homosexuals.n the frst ew months o 2010 alone, the Modern Orthodoxcommunity witnessed several rounds o recriminations. First, itwas a new rabbinic organization established, in part, to promotedecentralized conversion standards. hen it was a public orum onhomosexuality in the Orthodox community. And the third controversy centered on the decision by two rabbis to bestow the title o 
rabbah
, aeminized version o “rabbi,” on a woman previously ordained with thetitle o 
maharat 
. n recent months, some o the same battle-lines havebeen redrawn on the Statement o Principles advocating a welcomingposture toward homosexual Jews and on the suggestion to change theliturgy o the morning blessings (rom
she-lo asa’ni ishah
to
she-asa’ni Yisrael 
).Each o these episodes sparked public pronouncementsollowed by denouncements that generated name-calling and morerhetoric:
illul Hashem
(desecration o God’s name). Conservative.Fundamentalist.
aredi. eyond the pale. O the reservation.Signifcant sociological shits within the American Jewishcommunity have contributed to the current climate o hyperbolicdebate. On one end o the spectrum, the gul that existed betweencertain segments o the
aredi world and some elements o the ModernOrthodox world has narrowed due to changes in both communities.
3
 More Orthodox Jews than ever subscribe to many central tenets o Modern Orthodoxy, even i they may not sel-identiy as such. oday,nearly all Orthodox Jews identiy with, and care about, the well-beingo srael (or, in their parlance,
Erez Yisroel 
) and its citizens. Likewise,Orthodox Jewish girls across the spectrum are better educated andencouraged to pursue various careers. Moreover, the utilitarian wortho a college education and, even more signifcantly, the value o criticalthinking have made inroads in the
aredi world in America.
4
At thesame time, the continued inuence o the gap year(s) in srael andother, related phenomena have created a more submissive and
aredi-like mentality among some young people who grew up in ModernOrthodox homes and schools.
5
 
 
32
 
Shmuel Hain
At the other end o the spectrum, Orthodox day schools havebeen more successul than Conservative and Reorm schools inpromoting Jewish identity. n this realm, Modern Orthodoxy has wonthe most important battle—the battle o Jewish continuity—againstthe more progressive denominations.
6
n recent years, orah study and
mitzvot 
have been increasingly championed by other denominations.Perhaps more importantly, Orthodoxy, especially the modern variety,is no longer a denominational label to be avoided. On the contrary,Orthodoxy is a desirable term associated with authenticity andsuccess. he ascendancy o Orthodoxy, along with the ar-lan–driven democratization o halakhic research, has spawned a genre o academic articles and monographs that has redefned or crossed theline o Orthodox practice and theology or some, and blurred the linesor many others.
7
What has emerged is a community expanding in multiple, andsometimes opposing, directions. While the expansion and diversity hold the potential or deepening the community’s impact, other actorsimperil the uture o the Modern Orthodox community.his larger threat can be described in sociological terms, withpsychological insights and via halakhic ormulae. Sociologically, thephenomenon known as the ig Sort explains how America has becomea country o increasing religious and cultural division, economicseparation, and political polarization.
8
he eponymous book portrays,anecdotally and statistically, how Americans have sorted themselvesgeographically into like-minded communities over the last threedecades. n one particularly striking anecdote, the authors tell thestory o a real estate developer who successully designed two totally dierent ideological communities on dierent sides o a thoroughare.n the last decade, sorting has gone beyond geographicalneighborhoods; it has extended to the political best-sellers we read, thecable news networks we watch, and the nternet news and opinion siteswe bookmark, all o which reinorce and radicalize our own views whiledemonizing other viewpoints. Political debates have transormed intoculture wars. Local city and county governments are becoming moreand more radical in their politics. Nationally, Congress has lost most o its moderate members and is mired in seemingly intractable conict.

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