Friday, October 24, 2008

Rabbinic Silly Season is upon us

The Silly Season is busting out all over.

On the Republican side we have that mailing I received the other day about Same Sex Marriage, Child Sacrifice, Islamic Terrorism and Barack Obama.

Today, on the other hand, I saw a lawn sporting a doctored campaign sign promoting McCain-Stalin. This clever (not!) bit of sloganeering was a perfect illustration of the MoveOn.org principle: Many of us are instinctively liberal, but we are so annoyed by Democrats that we are forced to vote against them.

I wonder if the sign’s owner could even tell me what country Stalin ruled, let alone how many millions of people he killed.

It’s Silly Season in the Jerusalem Post, too, with this report that “Ahmedinejad’s health is deteriorating.” This example of Yellower-than-Yellow Journalism cites the robust evidence of Ahmedinejad missing a couple of meetings. There isn't even a hint of undercover, Mossad-based reports. I guess they figure that general journalistic credibility is shot anyway, so why not say stupid things in order to grab headlines, on the 1-in-1000000 chance their words might turn out to accidentally intersect with the truth?

And it’s Silly Season in the rabbinate: The post-Succot time of year when, toastedly burnt out from going full-steam for two months, and with no break in sight, we see sense in weird ideas and normally-unthinkable plans, just because we’ve lost our reality anchor.

At this time of year the current system of running a shul and community seems tired and balky and inefficient. Who wants to buckle into that old way of doing things? Better to try something new and shiny and different, even if it is also wildly illogical. Even after eleven years in the rabbinate, I can feel my sensibility-gyroscope spinning askew after Succos.

So at this time of year it makes sense to go to the shul board and talk about ditching the membership and dues systems, and going to a “pay what you like” system.

So at this time of year it makes sense to merge with three other shuls to form a large, a la carte, 24-hour Synaplex.

So at this time of year it makes sense to overhaul the Shabbos morning davening, converting it to a beginner’s service and eliminating the derashah (speech) in favor of a discussion.

So at this time of year it makes sense to entertain the idea of going entirely Green, getting rid of all disposables, using e-paper for our mailings, installing solar panels on our roof and wind turbines in our parking lot, recycling kitchen water…

I’ve barely started listing all of the ideas that have passed through my head in the past week.

While I was getting my post-Yom Tov haircut today, a guy about my age came into the barber shop, dressing like I used to dress way back when. Jeans, denim jacket, backward cap on his head. No beard (but a nifty goatee). I thought for a second that I was looking in some odd mirror… and he/I looked good that way.

I thought: I wouldn’t dress that way for minyan, but what if, outside of minyan, I would go around like that, maybe for a Dress-Down Wednesday or something? Sure, it would raise some eyebrows, but it might help some people connect… and it would make me feel more relaxed, right?

Rabbinic Silly Season, indeed. It’s sort of like an intense burst of mid-life crisis, I suppose. It’ll last another week or so, then I’ll be back to normal.

4 comments:

  1. ...what if, outside of minyan, I would go around like that, maybe for a Dress-Down Wednesday or something? Sure, it would raise some eyebrows, but it might help some people connect… and it would make me feel more relaxed, right?

    Or you could just move to California, where everyone feels relaxed and connected anyway (maybe because every day is dress-down day over there!)

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  2. Or you could just move to California, where everyone feels relaxed and connected anyway (maybe because every day is dress-down day over there!)

    I am telling you that we live in Paradise here. The weather has been outstanding. It was about 82 yesterday, just perfect.

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  3. ALN, Jack-
    Sure, until the Big One comes...

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  4. Some pretty "big ones" have already come, I remember them well... I was always ready to take the risk.... despite worries about the big one, we are relaxed and dress down at nearly every opportunity.

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