Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Light unto the Nations???

Among the primary missions of the Jewish People, and our reason for continuing to exist, is to serve as a "Light unto the Nations" (Isaiah 42:6).

While there may be differing opinions within traditional Judaism as to what this means exactly and how we are to go about achieving it, here are a number of examples of how the Jewish People currently are definitely not serving as a Light unto the Nations:

1) Let's start with the Bar / Bat Mitzvah extravaganza celebrations that have become little more than a modern day Sin of the Golden Calf orgy, with each Jewish family striving to out-spend and out-class the next. Some recent examples:

* The Superficial on Brittany's Sex Mitzvah (courtesy of AbbaGav):
... a gossip item on E!online implied that Murphy had had sex with a waiter at an industry bar mitzvah... Now I'm not Jewish, and have no idea how bar mitzvah's are supposed to work, but if there's any truth to the above story I'm seriously thinking of converting...

* Bat Mitzvah Madness (courtesy of Orthomom):
Ja Rule, the platinum-selling rapper accustomed to Madison Square Garden, could not afford to strain his vocal cords. He had an important gig the next night. He was playing a Miami steakhouse. The occasion was a bat mitzvah... As they performed, Amber Ridinger, 13, stood onstage with them, in a $27,000 Dolce & Gabbana dress...

The Ridingers, who recounted the evening in an interview, proudly acknowledge that their booking two pop stars for a party that would typically call for a kitschy cover band wearing ill-fitting tuxedos was a social achievement, even in Miami money circles.

2) This sickness of excess spending and misplaced values and priorities can be found even within the Orthodox Jewish community:

* Status Strollers (courtesy of Orthomom, again):
Evidently, the new must-have accessory in the Five Towns for hip mommies in the know is the $1,000 stroller (with accessories)... Six months ago, I only saw a few of these dotted about the shul stroller parking lot. But now, these strollers (called bugaboos, in case you might not be up on the lingo) seem to be proliferating...well, like bugs...

I have seen them in every color imaginable, in denim, even in ultra suede! They have managed to creep their way into almost every conversation. Overheard in the coffee shop yesterday: "I'm so depressed. I jumped on the aubergine, when really, I should have waited until the 2006 colors came out."

3) To add the icing to the cake, we are reminded of the sorry state of Jewish education, which is perfectly captured in this post (and is likely one of the main causes of all of the above problems), "Judaism won't be here in 100 years" (courtesy of Go West, Young Jew):
"Judaism won't be here in 100 years." So said a student last night in my Hebrew High class...

1. What's wrong with Judaism? What isn't it offering you that you want or need? Why do you think people are seeking out other paths?

Some of their answers:
"Judaism is just so old. It doesn't feel relevant anymore."
"I don't understand half the things we do ritually."
"Other places give me answers"
"If it doesn't matter if I come to synagogue to pray...If can just pray at home, then that's what I'll do."
"You can live a Jewish life and not actually DO anything Jewish like go to services."

2. Where do you see Judaism in 100 years?

"I think it will be about the same as it is now."
"It will look very different -- more like a culture even, and less like a religion."
"I'm not sure it will be here in 100 years. Maybe it's time to go out and start recruiting converts."

Hashem, please save us from ourselves.


You are correct. Too much money is spent on bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and other celebrations. Large segments of western society spend too much on clelbrations and entertainment of all kinds. Just look at what it costs to attand a game at a ball park or go to a movie or concert. However, the examples you gave are "gossip." Nevertheless, Jews should show the way to celebrate in proper perspective.

By Anonymous Hillel, at Tue Nov 22, 04:24:00 PM GMT+2  

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