Thanks to Robbie Gringras for his candid and reflective piece on his experience at Romemu (“Shabbat Service Here Highlights Israel-Diaspora Gap,” Opinion, May 10). I do have a few questions for him.
Would he have felt differently about the service if it had happened to be in Israel? I would think that even in Israel, rabbis choose from many different topics when they give sermons and drashot. Does every service he attends in Israel always include a reference to domestic politics?
Did the service really feel all that different than it would have been had Gringras gone to a Jewish Renewal service in Israel like Nava Tehila? Is he suggesting that there is some intrinsically domestic form of worship currently practiced in Israel, uninfluenced by immigration?
Maybe a larger number of Israeli Jews would find a way to God and spirituality if the government weren’t delegitimizing the kinds of worship practiced by the majority of Jews in the United States.
Although it sounds like the experience at Romemu didn’t particularly resonate for Gringras, I would ask: (a) doesn’t that say more about you than about the service? There are quite a few Israelis who visit American synagogues and discover a form of worship that speaks to them in a way they’ve never experienced before, not to mention that Romemu has a fair number of Israeli worshippers. And (b) who cares? Why should a Jewish worship experience in the United States have to matter to an Israeli?
One last point: I love Gringas’s writing generally (his “wrestling/hugging” metaphor is classic) and him as a person. Still, this piece came across less as provocative than deliberately confrontational.
Director of Lifelong Learning Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York
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