So this was the first Shavuot that I can remember staying up until sunrise to do something that involves enriching my brain. Well, at least not coming home to birds’ singing, drunk and ready to pass out; I was coming home sober and quite intrigued, ready to pass out.
I went to two lectures, one was called “Reflecting on the Success of Jewish Feminism: What’s left for the Next Generation?” given at Merkaz Hamagshamim by three women, Dina Pinner, an Educator/Writer, Hannah Estrin, a Conservative educator, and Haviva Ner-David, Post-Denominational Rabbi. The other was “Sulha or Mediation: How did/should Rabbis Reconcile Conflicts?” by Rabbi Daniel Roth at the Pardes Institute.
I’m not a feminist, but that first talk seemed more interesting than what Pardes was offering for the first half of the evening. It was. I didn’t agree with everything, but that’s ok. It gave me one interesting perspective that I took away more than any other: One of the most religious people I know is a – well I don’t know if she uses the word Conservative – Egal girl I went to university with. Say what you want about women reading from the Torah or donning kipot, but the fact is, this girl is way more religious than I am, and I consider myself a “lazy modern Orthodox.” I don’t feel the need to wear extra garments allotted to men (hell, I don’t even know if I’ll cover my hair, which I’m sorta supposed to do, never mind men’s stuff). Still, I could be more into it. But living in Israel has made more lazy about my religious practice, as the general standard here is traditionally Orthodox, even if you’re not actively practicing, that’s what you’d be if you were (referring to non-Anglos, of course).
The second talk obviously appealed to me, my impending degree and all. I’m glad I stayed up until 4 am for that one. It even turns out the lecturer knew me by name somehow, oddly enough. We discussed 4 cases in Jewish history (mainly Talmud-era history) where there were conflicts among Jews, mainly high-up there community Ravs and lower students. This lecturer’s feeling is that their method of conflict resolution was completely off, and perhaps Judaism – at least traditional Judaism – is not equipped with effective reconciliation tools, which he claims is a mixture of Western, modern methods and Traditional Arab/Islamic techniques. I’m not going to post it all here, but it was definitely something I’ll be thinking more about in my studies.
Ok, so I didn’t spend the night learning Torah. But that was a mind-enriching experience I haven’t had in awhile, which is actually sad, because I’m a graduate student and should be more engaged in my studies.