Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Know Your Jewish Community: Virginia

The title of this post is slightly misleading. I'm not going to talk about the (comparatively small) population of Jews in Virginia. Instead I would like to posit a theory:

Orthodoxy is the Virginia of the Jewish Community.

The proof text for this theory is this article from the Washington Post* on the possibility of passing an (anti) gay marriage ammendment to the VA constitution. There are a few pertinent facts in this article that make up the base of my argument.

1) Virginia is a "red" state
2) Virginians support the ban on gay marriage by 53%-42% or so
3) In Northern Virginia the reverse is true

So where is the connection? In the rest of the Jewish world homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted. The Reform movement has welcomed gays and lesbians into their rabbinate since 1965, and the Conservative movement will probably begin allowing openly gay and lesbian students into their seminaries starting later this year. Orthodoxy has absolutely no intention of allowing openly gay students into their smicha** programs.

However, there is a section of Orthodoxy, for arguments sake, lets call it "Modern" Orthodoxy (MO) which struggles with these issues. This section wants to continue within the confines of Jewish law, yet struggles with issues of modernity: ie if you believe that homosexuality is inherent and not chosen, how does a mechitza marginalize those who are attracted to the same sex?

This metaphor holds not only for the issue of the inclusion/exclusion of the GLBT members of the community, but also politically. Northern Virginia is mostly a Democratic stronghold, and many of the MO are Democrats. The rest of Virginia is pretty solidly Republican, and more and more of the Orthodox are going over to the Right based on Israel policies.

Last, but not least, the Orthodox are doing a better job of building the next generation of leaders. My generation is more likely to have gone to Jewish day schools, and then a year/semester in Israel. They are more traditionally observant, and moving Right. Just like the Democrats, the MO seem to believe that the strength of the ideology alone will attract adherents, and have done very little to PROVE to the next generation that they should be Democrats/MO. MO kids are getting this terrific Jewish education, but not enough to balance it with, so either they become Orthodox or exhibit the characteristics of what Jay Michaelson calls "Flexidox."

In other words: Mark Warner for President in 2012.

Disclaimer: I am in no way comparing Senator Macaca to the leadership of the Orthodoxy Community

Disclaimer 2: I don't quite agree with Jay Michaelson's theory. Neither does RH Host or David Kelsey. See the latter's intelligent post on the subject here.

*For the record, Harley and I use the Washington Post as our newspaper of choice for a number of reasons, primary among them being that you can register for free, and you NEVER need to pay for any articles. Posting articles that are NY Times select is quite irritating to those of us who don't have a membership.

** Smicha is Rabbinic Ordination

1 comment:

Benjamin J. Cooper said...

Basically, I had a long and facetious post, but it boils down to the fact that I think people know that if they believe in the literal truth of the Bible, they get hassled about it way less once they become part of a visibly different religious group. Because, for whatever reason, the moment you stop looking like you shop with the rest of us, it seems the rest of us have a deep-set need to be at least polite about your wacky beliefs.