Monday, April 22, 2013

"Chabad's Do Nothing, Feel Good Judaism" - Failed Messiah


4/22/13 "…On the other hand, the personal approach of Chabad to Jewish outreach—often combined with glitzy, high-profile, one-time events—has a major negative: It is built on absolutely minimal expectations. Its message seems to be: We will love you, but we won’t require anything of you. On this point, somewhat bizarrely, the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox critics seem to agree. The Orthodox critics ask Chabad rabbis: Why don’t you expect Jews to become Orthodox? The non-Orthodox ask: Why don’t you expect anything at all?…"
Former president of the Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Eric Yoffie writes in Ha'aretz:
…On the other hand, the personal approach of Chabad to Jewish outreach—often combined with glitzy, high-profile, one-time events—has a major negative: It is built on absolutely minimal expectations. Its message seems to be: We will love you, but we won’t require anything of you. On this point, somewhat bizarrely, the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox critics seem to agree. The Orthodox critics ask Chabad rabbis: Why don’t you expect Jews to become Orthodox? The non-Orthodox ask: Why don’t you expect anything at all?
When Reform and Conservative leaders protest that celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitvah in a synagogue should require preparation and serious training, including membership and involvement for more than a few months, they are not simply protecting their membership model. They are pointing out that there are limits to feel-good Judaism; even as an outreach method, sweeping away requirements for study and family engagement becomes counterproductive at a certain point. Friendly is good, a little glitz is fine, and being non-judgmental has its virtues; but who wants to be part of a tradition that doesn’t ask anything of you?
Personally, I am an admirer of Chabad, and their sense of mission inspires me. Still, as warm and wonderful as it can be and as “traditional” as it may feel, in my view there is danger in its message.
After all, wherever you are on the denominational spectrum, the basic principle of Jewish tradition is this: Judaism is about obligation. It expects a great deal of you, and in return it changes your life. A nothing-is-expected-of-you, drop-in-whenever-you-want Judaism fails to meet this test.
http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2013/04/do-nothing-feel-good-chabad-judaism-234.html 

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