a new reality
>>Tue Apr 20, 2010
PresenTense is all about fostering innovation in the Jewish world.
Being 19, I know quite about about what its like to be a young Jew in today's world. The crowd of post high school teens who come to Israel is growing in number every year. Yeshivas, volunteer programs, and travel programs are full of young Jews from all over the world, from different religious backgrounds. Walking down Ben Yehudah street in Jerusalem on a Thursday night I wonder whether I've suddenly gone back to a combination of high school and summer camp.
As we celebrate the birth of the Jewish State, one can't help but wonder whether the classic pioneering spirit of the founders is still alive among today's teens. I'm not going to go on to lament the state of Jewish teens by dwelling on underage drinking, American culture, or high assimilation rates.
I am, however, concerned with what the young people who are here in Israel, studying Talmud, learning about our heritage, exploring their Jewish roots. Are we trying to return to our roots? The concept of return is comforting, but it is not enough. Returning to our roots does not take advantage of the creative abilities of our generation.
Perhaps a more fitting terminology would be to a re-examination of our roots. Study our heritage, but question everything along the way. Celebrate historical heroes, but learn from their mistakes as well.
Their is a modern debate as to whether the Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish scholar and philosopher, believes that the commandment to study Torah also applies to science. My understanding of it is that Maimonides beleives that one who studies torah without studying the Western science of the time is not really following the commandment.
Perhaps this is what should be emphasized more when we talk about trying to get young people to "return." A return to the history of progressive Judaism, to the full scope of the historical Jewish experience. Jews have been doing amazing things for centuries. Why stop now?
Jewish Online Radio
>>Wed Mar 3, 2010
A few weeks ago I asked Aharon to give me a "crash course" on the Jewish world. Said in jest, he and I laughed - but as a new Jewish professional, I was kind of serious.
I am Jewish. I am a professional. But I am a novice in regards to the major organizations, Jewish philanthropists, and notable players in the Jewish market place that I am expected to know in this new role. Coming from a professional path where there was clear separation of religion and work - the only way I was marked as "Jewish" was by my time sheet - I have thought a lot about what it means to merge these two identities. And joining the PresenTense staff has given me a new appreciation and greater understanding of what it means to dedicate your working-hours to the Jewish people.