There is a rabbinic tradition that Abraham and Sarah were so welcoming that they would leave their tent open on all four sides in order to welcome strangers. [1.] So it always amuses me when Rabbanite Jews discuss which Jewish thoughts are not welcome in their modern tent.
Just this week, Rabbi Jack Abramowitz wrote a very good and thought provoking piece on who is “in the tent.” And today, I invite him into my tent, even though he won’t welcome me into his.
When I was in my early 20s, I was working for Alpha Epsilon Pi, whose aim is to develop leadership for the Jewish community. I was lamenting to a friend how my generation feels a bit distant from our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., and how I would completely change the State of the Union to be more in touch with the people.
I proposed letting Michael Buffer introduce the President, and having a half-time show of sorts before the response from the opposing political party. My friend told me it was a horrible idea because it would further erode any respect we have for our elected officials.
(Source: WikiMedia Commons; David Cohen, Photographer)
Maybe it’s the internet or maybe it’s that we’re all simply more curious these days, but the inertia that once confined Jews to a single Jewish movement our entire lives is eroding rapidly.
The transient nature of Jewish observance and identity was recently on display when CNN’s Belief Blog interviewed Matisyahu. (See Q and A with Matisyahu: ‘Hasidic reggae superstar’ sans the Hasidim.) Matisyahu described how he “started out with the Chabad movement . . . with the idea that ‘this is it.'”* Matisyahu eventually opened up to other Jewish movements.
I’m not saying that Matisyahu would ever explore Karaite Judaism (or even that Karaite Judaism is the right path for Matisyahu), but many Rabbanites are drawn to Karaite Judaism for the same reasons that Matisyahu recently underwent a very public “rebirth.”