Posted by Robin Podolsky
This week, the US Supreme Court vitiated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and then ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-gender marriage, unconstitutional. This, in my opinion, meant a step backward and then a step forward for civil rights.
American Jews have a direct interest in both of these issues, even though most Jews don’t identify as gay and most Jews in the United States don’t identify as people of color. That’s because most Americans don’t identify as Jews. Protection of the rights of the minority has always been a matter of survival for us as well as a positive reason for why we choose to live in and contribute so much to this country.
The Voting Rights Act has particular resonance for us, since it was, along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. This legislation represented the work of thousands of Jews who joined the Freedom Rides and civil rights marches to fight for equality of persons in the United States, including Rabbis Saul Berman and Abraham Joshua Heschel, prominent Orthodox and Conservative leaders respectively. It represents the cause for which secular Jews Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner gave their lives.
Those who approve of the change agree with the Chief Justice that those cities, counties and states which had been under federal scrutiny for discriminatory voting practices have advanced to the point where such scrutiny is outdated. If so, why did officials in Texas, Alabama and other Southern states rush to enact regulations that make voting more difficult as soon as this decision came down? As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her fierce dissent, “"Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination."
It was, of course, entirely specious for Chief Justice Roberts to suggest that Congress, as it is now constituted, will simply go back to the drawing board and conceive a new formula for determining which districts and states should be monitored for discriminatory practices. The current Congress will do no such thing, because the lower house is dominated by those who, for ideological reason, are determined to render the President’s second term as unproductive as possible--and it also includes those whose sympathies may not incline them to defend the Act in any case.
On the other hand, federal barriers to same-gender marriage have been overcome. The executive administration is already moving to change all discriminatory regulations over which it has direct power. While Jews in the US are divided on this question, many major Jewish organizations have worked hard for the civil rights of LGBT Americans. The Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements all support marriage equality and have ruled that rabbis adhering to their movements may bless gay unions in Jewish rituals.
What I find striking is the gracious and nuanced statement of disapproval issued by the Orthodox Union, which reads in part, “We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect.” This is quite a different tone from that taken by extreme culturally conservative Christian leaders who are predicting, with what appears unsettlingly to approach glee, that God will rain punishment on our country.
That the issues of voting rights and marriage rights have emerged in tandem this week might remind us of the tangled circumstances through which Jews in the United States have been able to live as freely as we do. On one hand, we are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional republic in which respect for all religions and favoritism toward none is a founding principle, albeit one which constantly needs defending. On the other hand, ever since slavery was institutionalized along racial lines, that majority of Jews who have been considered white (albeit, at times, in a shaky sort of way) have never had to contend, as our ancestors in Europe did, with being at the very bottom of a “racial” hierarchy. So our record of activism on both these issues remains a mix of solidarity and self-interest, a coupling of principle and pragmatics.
As my friend Rabbi Ruth Adar writes, “Today’s progress, wonderful as it is, is not enough. We can’t declare the work done yet.” Our safety and our hunger for a just world, in which the image of God within every person is recognized and respected, demand that we continue to bend that arc.
6.28.13 at 5:47 pm | Of voting rights, marriage rights and what's good. . .
6.14.13 at 2:58 pm | An Erev Rav becomes a Rav.
5.1.13 at 9:07 pm | Of clothing, holiness and Bangladesh.
3.31.13 at 4:01 pm | On Pesach, let's remember two American Jewish. . .
3.7.13 at 3:26 am | Silverlake salon to feature American Jews who. . .
2.6.13 at 6:39 pm | When good TV attacks.
11.15.12 at 6:45 pm | Gaza: what might have been, what might still be (4)
5.1.13 at 9:07 pm | Of clothing, holiness and Bangladesh. (4)
9.16.12 at 1:48 pm | Of hate films, death, and citizenship and some. . . (3)
June 14, 2013 | 2:58 pm
Posted by Robin Podolsky
Thanks to HaShem and to all my beloved teachers and friends, it's happened. On 2 Tammuz, June 10, I received smichah and was ordained a rabbi and teacher for the people Israel. (I guess I'm going to have to rename this blog pretty soon. Any ideas?)
Here is an edited version of my remarks on that night:
For over a decade, I had the honor to serve the people of California, working for an elected official for whom I have enormous respect, former State Senator Sheila Kuehl. I loved public service for the opportunity to earn my living through helping people individually and advancing social justice. When that job ended, I searched for equally meaningful work in which my spiritual being could flourish.
Here in Los Angeles, I learned to pray with the loving, caring, decent Jews of Congregation Kol Ami and Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park. I studied the intricacies of Jewish thought at Hebrew Union College with such leading thinkers as Rabbi Doctor Rachel Adler and Rabbi Doctor Tamara Eskenazi. I learned to daven Shlomo tunes at the Shtibl Minyan and walked picket lines with carwasheros along with Bend the Arc.
In Judaism, I found a holistic way of life in which social justice imperatives are combined with daily courtesy, study, prayer and acts of kindness. I found dear friends who became chosen family. To those of you who are here tonight—words are insufficient to express my gratitude for the love and support you have given me. Without exaggeration—I could not have done this without you.
Why AJR? Because, there, Jews of all denominations and no denomination study together. Because women in sheitlech and women in tfilin pray together and become friends. Because the Torah is rigorous, and the teachers are generous with their knowledge and caring and time. Because it is a mussar school, a school where students engage in self-reflection and group support for the work of learning and molding our midot, the aspects of our character.
In Shmot (Exodus) chapter 20, we are told, “make for Me an altar of earth—adamah…” The first human, the Adam was composed of earth. So God instructs us: ‘make Me an altar from what you’re made of.” This is what AJR teaches us to do.
May 1, 2013 | 9:07 pm
Posted by Robin Podolsky
A couple of weeks ago, we read in Parashat Kidoshim (Shmot 19:19) that we are forbidden to wear “shatnetz.” Our rabbis take this to be what is referred to in Devarim 22:11, fabric that combines wool and linen.
At first glance, this prohibition appears to be entirely a hok, a commandment which is not meant to make rational sense but simply is an opportunity to enact our relationship with God, a way to bring mindfulness to the simple act of dressing ourselves. But it’s significant that we find the first mention of this prohibition in the Holiness Code, that section in Shmot where we are told to leave the corners of our fields untouched so that people on hard times can harvest them to eat; where we are told to treat workers justly and where we are forbidden to stand idly while a neighbor bleeds. Many commentators, including Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook believe that this commandment also has the character of a mishpat, a commandment that directly furthers justice. In this case, Rav Kook suggests that the commandment about shatnetz draws our attention to how we relate to animals and the earth.
Looking at it Rav Kook’s way, we can see commonalities between the commandments about kosher clothing and kosher food. In some ways, the laws of dietary kashrut go beyond the rational and simply call for obedience as a way to enact our allegiance to God with every meal we eat. However, kashrut also demands that we do not perpetrate tzaar baalei chayim, cruelty to living creatures.
If we may not procure our food through cruelty to the other animals, then all the more so, we may not feed ourselves through cruel or unjust treatment of people. For this reason, contemporary rabbis have advocated that we increase the strictures of kashrut to account for how workers are treated when food is produced. The Magen Tzedek Commission, which arose from Judaism’s Conservative movement, now grants certification to grocery products based on standards for ethical employment as well as animal welfare; and the Orthodox organization, Uri L’Tzedek grants its Tav HaYosher certification to kosher restaurants which treat their workers fairly.
Perhaps it’s time to apply the same rigor to kosher clothing. Today, people all over the world are observing May Day, a holiday dedicated to the celebration of working people. This May Day is a painful one, as the body count of those lost in the recent building collapse in Bangladesh continues to rise. Hundreds of garment workers, alarmed at cracks which had developed in the building where they worked, where forced back inside by factory thugs and threatened with the loss of their jobs if they did not continue to produce. The building, owned by one of the more powerful landlords in the country, did indeed collapse, and the death toll has now passed 400.
Bangladesh is a major international center for garment production. Many clothing manufacturers and retailers in the United States do business there. The parallels between the situation of Bangladeshi workers and that of our Jewish ancestors who worked in the garment trade here in the US are striking. In the first part of the 20th Century, conditions for immigrant garment workers in East Coast tenements included starvation wages and grossly unsafe conditions. The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of 1911, in which over 146 Jewish and Italian-American workers were killed and hundreds more injured, was paralleled by 2010 by two hideous factory fires in Bangladesh. Like the Triangle Shirtwaist workers, the Bangladeshi workers were locked into upstairs factories with no adequate fire protection or means of escape. Hundred were killed or maimed.
Our ancestors did not stand for being treated unjustly. Even before the Triangle fire, they organized the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Through strikes and with the support of Jewish community leaders—some of whom were much better off than the workers and still felt compelled by Jewish values to fight for fairness in the workplace—the union won acknowledgment of their right to bargain collectively, and they were instrumental in the passage of workplace safety laws.
Our ancestors celebrated May Day by marching for their own rights. We can observe it by renewing our commitment to holiness, to the principle that, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear, we stay in a good relationship with our fellow human beings along with our Creator. Perhaps it’s time for heksher tzedek on clothes.
But we don’t have to confine ourselves to individual action. The Institute for Global Labour and Human rights reminds us that our country does pass laws regulating imported goods when it comes to copyright infringements and that Congress, spurred to action by reports of garments made from dog and cat fur making their way into the US passed the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. Just as we support actions against tzar baalei chayim, so too we can work for the passage of the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act introduced to Congress in 2007.
After the Triangle fire, Rabbi Steven S. Wise said, “The lesson of the hour is that while property is good, life is better, that while possessions are valuable, life is priceless. The meaning of the hour is that the life of the lowliest worker in the nation is sacred and inviolable, and, if that sacred human right be violated, we shall stand adjudged and condemned before the tribunal of God and of history.”
March 31, 2013 | 4:01 pm
Posted by Robin Podolsky
In this season, when we celebrate freedom and the honor of obligation, let’s remember two rabbis who exemplified those values. The two teachers I have in mind were contemporaries and, for a while, neighbors. Orthodox Rabbi Sabato Morais and Reform Rabbi David Einhorn led congregations in Philadelphia in the years leading up to the USA’s Civil War. At a time when few rabbis dared (or maybe cared) to do it, these tzadikim condemned slavery forthrightly, drawing on Jewish tradition.
Sabato Morais, in his 1864 Thanksgiving sermon to Congregation Mikveh Israel said, “Not the victories of the Union, but those of freedom, my friends, do we celebrate. What is Union with human degradation? Who would again affix his seal to the bond that consigned millions to [that]? Not I, the enfranchised slave of Mitzrayim.
David Einhorn, in a 1861 Passover sermon, later expanded and published as War With Amalek, wrote, ““Is it anything else but a deed of Amalek, rebellion against God, to enslave human beings created in His image, and to degrade them to a state of beasts having no will of their own? Is it anything else but an act of ruthless and wicked violence, to reduce defenseless human beings to a condition of merchandise, and relentlessly to tear them away from the hearts of husbands, wives, parents, and children…?”
These teachers were unified on one of the key moral questions facing spiritual leaders of their time despite their disagreements about many other important things. Morais, a founder of Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), was determined to maintain a halachic standard for American Jews, believing that the principles he expressed in his sermon were indissoluble from the web of study and ritual that binds Jewish communities into a people. Einhorn, a leader in American Reform Judaism advocated a Judaism rooted in prophetic discourse and a rejection of ritual commandments (hukim) in favor of the ethical ones (mishpatim). Yet each man, recalling our central narrative of redemption from slavery, responded to oppression of American slaves with the same moral clarity.
Their fates, for a while, were different, although, at the end, each was honored. It was Morais, the more traditional Jew—and, in his time, a liberal who spoke out, not only for the end of slavery, but also for the importance of women’s education, Native American rights and worker’s rights and who battled prayer in public schools and all attempts to construct the United States as a Christian nation—who kept his congregation. Despite some threats on his life and safety, Morais stayed on his bimah at Mikveh Israel where he had a lifetime contract. Thousands attended his public funeral.
Einhorn had taken up his Philadelphia pulpit at Knesset Israel, because he had, in 1861, been driven from his Baltimore pulpit at Har Sinai for his anti-slavery stance by a mob that threatened to tar and feather him. He eventually left his new congregation to settle in New York, where he led Congregation Adas Jeshurun, which would eventually merge with another synagogue to become Congregation Beth-El. There he retired and, he too, was mourned by his large Jewish community when he died.
Each left a legacy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a lion of the JTS, was among those rabbis who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and resolutely opposed America’s role in the Vietnam War. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were drafted on the premises of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. More broadly, Orthodox Judaism, with which Morais identified is alive, and continues to sprout vigorous debates and tendencies. Conservative Judaism, for which JTS serves as a seminary, is still a halachic movement, one which sees halachah as a living, evolving tradition; and Reform Judaism continues to regard living Torah as the basis for a Jewish life. While they don’t always land on the same side of every question, each Jewish movement maintains its obligation to respond to the key issues of its day.
The USA has, more or less, caught up to Rabbis Morais and Einhorn on the question of slavery, but we should never forget how much courage it must have taken for them to speak out when they did. How can we emulate their example?
March 7, 2013 | 3:26 am
Posted by Robin Podolsky
So I’ve been quiescent lately, what with school and thesis and flu and an internship at a real live synagogue. The last year of rabbi school is b@t5hit nuts.
But now I can offer a chance to talk in person! (Yeah, I know, be still your heart.)
On this coming Sunday, March 10, at 3pm, three American Jews who have returned from trips to the Ashkenazi Old Country will be sharing our experiences at the Red Lion Tavern at 2366 Glendale Blvd. in Silverlake (why yes, it is a German bar—looks who’s back, taking over your space and drinking your beer!)
As you long-time readers know, last summer I visited Poland and Germany with other seminarians through FASPE, Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics, sponsored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage. (See the archive for some details.) We toured the site of the concentration camps at Auschwitz, including the death camp, Birkenau. We visited the living and growing Jewish community of Krakov. In Germany we studied at the Topography of Terror Museum at the site of the old Gestapo headquarters and at the villa in Wansee where the “Final Solution” was discussed. We also saw the Neu Synagogue, where Regina Jonas, the first Jewish woman to be ordained as a rabbi once served before she was taken to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz where she was murdered. Just as importantly, we read the work of historians, eye witnesses, religious leaders and philosophers; and we talked profoundly, not only about how we had been impacted by what we saw, but also about how lessons from Shoah studies will inform our own work as clergy. I will be sharing some personal writing and also, I hope, having a discussion with you about what we can learn from this history.
My friend, the poet Helena Lipstadt, had the chance to work with other artists in Poland on the restoration of synagogues. Rob Peckerar works with the amazing organization Yiddishkayt to bring Yiddish culture to new generations. They will be telling their stories and sharing pictures as well and they also are looking forward to talking with you.
Please join us if you can. There will be snacks and tea and, of course, good beer.
February 6, 2013 | 6:39 pm
Posted by Robin Podolsky
Really? Venal Jews, what a twist, did you think that up all by yourselves? Or is this some sort of double back-flip attempt at irony or controversy trolling? Or are you really that oblivious?
Thing is, Grey’s Anatomy is one of my favorite must-watch shows. I so want to keep it that. I love a show in which the primary relationship is a friendship between women. I love that one of the women, the eponymous Grey, started out all “dark and twisty inside” and actually got better and is in a strong marriage with a decent guy and is a pregnant mother and actually became more and more interesting as she grew more and more healthy. Speaking of Jews, I love that the other woman, Cristina Yang—my favorite TV Jewess (stepfather, family conversion, etc.), is unapologetically driven by her passion for excellence at medicine, no matter who she marries or has sex with. I love that the other anchor couple who ground the show are lesbians who are given individual personalities and story lines—most recently, one of them, the perky one, had a leg amputated and she was a far, far distance from the perk for a long, long time.
Yes, with Cristina’s Jewishness, with Callie and Arizona’s lesbian marriage, with Meredith and Derek’s adoptive parenting, Grey’s has mostly managed to get past the obvious. Which is why I find it disheartening and frustrating that, with a story line about budget cuts at the hospital where all these people work, we have been given stereotypically venal Jews.
(And the story line is a ridiculous set-up anyway. The budget crisis was precipitated by a lawsuit won by the very doctors who are furious at the budget cuts. Their award was so large that all they would have to do is settle for half of it, walk away independently wealthy and still save the hospital.)
The Jews decide to close the ER. The Jews decide to standardize all medical procedures and the doctor with the very most Jewish name loudly shares his opinion that ‘patients don’t matter’ when there is a bottom line to consider The Jews are not, it turns out, trying to save the hospital at all, but to spiff it up for a new buyer, because they are Selling Out.
Oh, Shonda, please don’t live up to your name. You’re better than this.
While we’re in the vicinity of the subject: why can’t Cristina ever find a Jewish guy? (Oh, I know, what are the odds of her finding a Jewish doctor at a hospital? But you’re creative, you could think of a way.)
Currently, she’s still hanging around with (shagging) her very Gentile ex-husband who pushed her into a quick marriage while she was suffering with PTSD ( it was a shooting, yada); tried to bully her into going through with a pregnancy she did not want; threw her abortion up to her at a party with their friends after promising to be supportive about it; and, finally, had sex with someone else while they were married.
C’mon. No, a strong Jewish woman like Yang does not need an Alpha male to ‘match’ her, nor do we need to see her punished for normative behavior among doctors of the testosterone persuasion. Why can’t she get a cool, intricate, soulful, roguishly charming, gentle Jewy Jewish guy from LA or New York (no not a muscular paratrooper from Tel Aviv), who grew up with strong women and knows how to appreciate them? If you must traffic in stereotypes, how about one of the good ones?
January 27, 2013 | 9:32 am
Posted by Robin Podolsky
Mishnah Avot 1:11 warns us to “be careful with your words.” Advice, it turns out, that I have not heeded adequately and, therefore, I hurt someone’s feelings carelessly and also demonstrated some sloppy thinking.
Months ago, in a post about the forbidden temptation of the contemplative life, I made a glancing reference to the controversy in Israel over exemptions for Torah scholars from military service. The post wasn’t about that subject; it was about my own struggle with the time/money question. In that context, I made reference to Orthodox yeshiva scholars who are able to devote themselves to Torah without distractions—a situation I regard with more than a little envious yearning.
I recently learned though, that my careless throwaway reference to a complex issue had caused some real pain to a colleague at the school I attend, the Academy for Jewish Religion.
One of the most wonderful things about my school is its diversity with regard to hashkafa. Our faculty represents a great swath of the Jewish spectrum, including people with ties to the Orthodox, Conservative/Masorti, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements and the tendencies and counter-tendencies within them, and the student body mirrors that multiplicity. There are Hasids and Litvaks, mystics and rationalists, people who are steeped in popular culture and people who avoid it, political leftists, rightists and centrists. Women in sheitels pray with women in tfilin.
Some of my favorite teachers have been Orthodox thinkers and rabbis, not only for the depth and breadth of their Torah learning, but also for the complexity and practical sense of their thinking—and the humor and pleasure with which they infuse their classes. In fact, our Academy recently chose one such teacher, Dr. Tamar Frankiel, our former Provost and faculty member to be our President. Dr. Frankiel is a living example of how Orthodox women are a vital force today’s living Judaism.
I have learned just how broad and diverse the Orthodox world is, and my colleague who rebuked me for the casual reference I made in my post reminded me of how unhelpful it is to use the word as a single descriptive adjective. She reminded me that, even with regard to the question of the yeshiva military exemption, the Orthodox world in Israel contains people associated with a range of positions and choices.
So I apologize for referring casually to “Orthodox men” in the context of a controversial issue without making that complexity clear and in a way that served to reinforce a cliché, not to shed light.
My encounter with my Orthodox colleagues continues to teach me a great deal. We still don’t agree about some key issues (to be discussed in later posts). But I am becoming a better Jew for having known them.
December 24, 2012 | 3:02 pm
Posted by Robin Podolsky
One of the nice things about living a seamless Jewish life is no more Christmas angst. The key is staying out of malls or planning to make a day of it. (A friend and I were reminded of this when we made the innocent decision to see The Hobbit at The Grove. Could not believe the parking or the saccharine music piped just a little too loud. But the tree and the lights were like a second Rivendell.)
Generally, though, what’s not to like? Most of us get a paid holiday from work with no religious restrictions to observe. There is, of course, the traditional movie and Chinese food (or Greek, as Greek Orthodox Christmas is weeks away). There are service opportunities at homeless shelters throughout the city—of course that’s true every day, isn’t it?
Most people are in pretty decent moods. Our city of neon gets even more shiny than usual. And people who wish one a merry Christmas are, for the most part, just being nice, not aggressively evangelical.
For the most part. There are those who make a public stink about anyone who broadens the greeting to “happy holidays,” and who propagate the ‘war on Christmas’ meme. This bespeaks a refusal of pluralism and a desire to re-vision the United States as a Christian country that only ‘tolerates’ others who graciously accept their place.
What is wrong with acknowledging the scope and breadth of the holiness and joy at this time of year? Why not be sensitive to the mood of this season as it begins to build?
First we have a coming to terms with the gathering night. Yom Kippur, Day of the Dead, Halloween/Samhain all invite us to conceive of November as a time when the veil between worlds thins, when we take stock of ourselves and our frailties and remember our beloved dead. The last two holidays especially invite us to consider the uncanny, to face our fears with humor as well as respect.
Other holidays overlap. Solstice, Diwali, Hanukah and Kwanzaa are all observed with candles and light, the promise of renewal after winter, the assurance that seeds grow in the dark. Hanukah and Kwanzaa both celebrate cultural pride and are signs of its flourishing. Eid Al-Adha and Christmas both celebrate the willingness to sacrifice and the rebirth of hope. All the religious holidays celebrate the miraculous, the gift of meaning.
Joy upon joy, holiness upon holiness. Why not be sensitive to the varied flavors of uplift and revelation that the season brings in our fabulous world city? Why not wish everyone “happy holidays,” instead of assuming that we know what holiday they observe at home?
The more grounded in my own tradition I am, the easier it is for me to take pleasure in the joy of others. I see no reason to appropriate Christmas as an ‘American holiday’ or a secular holiday. I attend the parties of my Christian friends because I love them. I don’t sing Christmas carols, because I don’t believe that the obscure rabbi Yehoshua ben Yosef, one of the thousands of Jews tortured to death by the Roman Empire, was ever a Christ, let alone resurrected, and I see no reason to disrespect a tradition by trivializing it as a harmless (because meaningless) bit of popular myth.
This reminds me—I have learned, not only to stay out of malls, but also to be very selective about TV. Once you’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life twice, enough is enough. It’s easy to avoid the movies and Peanuts special, but then there are those Very Special Episodes.
As my colleague Abe Fried-Tanzer reminds us, Glee is getting better, but has a ways to go. Yes, we did get the adorable Puckerman brothers’ rendition of Hanukah Oh Hanukah, but then we have Rachel, a marked Jewish character, winning a winter showcase with a rendition of O Holy Night, not only a Christmas song, but a deeply doctrinal one. WTF?
Of course, we know what’s up: the show has a Christmas album to sell, and Lea Michele, who is not Jewish, has the pipes of an angel and killed the song properly. Still, I ask again, WTF? Why code a character as emphatically Jewish and then strip her of all religious affiliation?
That has been a source of irritation for me with regard to this show anyway. Why create what is obviously the kind of real life town that abounds throughout the Midwest—one with a substantial Reform Jewish presence from the 19th Century wave of immigration—a town in which Artie Abrams, Tina Cohen-Chang, the brothers Puckerman and Rachel Berry (and Jacob Ben-Israel, but the less said about him the better) could form a substantial community, and then make so little of them? Every single religious episode of Glee that I can remember only features Christian spirituality; except for the hilarious Schindler’s List/Simchat Torah Puckerman interlude, which actually captures a certain…situation. But why is there never the breakout sincerity moment with Judaism that there sometimes is with Christianity? Why don’t we get to see the religious and cultural life this community enjoys as we have with Quinn and Mercedes’ churches?
So: Very Special Episodes reveal unconscious biases and unresolved narrative breaks. Good for provoking thought maybe, but holiday cheer, not so much.
Mah-ever. A very nice woman from my Jewish seminary’s Christian sister school just texted me “happy Christmas,” and I wished her the same. My neighbors’ lights are really very pretty. I’m off to make my yearly veg contribution to my Christian carnivore friends’ annual Christmas Eve potluck. Tomorrow I get to watch Keira Knightly throw herself under a bus over a decadent aristocrat before enjoying the best fake meat cuisine in the world. Happy Holidays!