Monday, July 30, 2007

One Last Thought About Noah Feldman

I was away this weekend, and I attended services were the women's apparel ranged from dresses to short shorts and tied off t's. And for the record, this was an "Orthodox" service. At any rate, it really got me thinking about the choices we make and how they affect our community acceptance.

I realized that by living with several girls on the UWS, wearing pants, and choosing to work rather than marry young and produce children, that I have opted out of certain Jewish communities. I understand that they have certain norms, I don't conform to them, so I'm not really part of their community (although they'd probably be nice to me if I dropped into davening on a Saturday morning). I've chosen instead to observe in a "Modern" Orthodox way, and this informs my reception in different parts of different communities. Some people think that my observances are anti-Feminist, or outdated, or crazy, and others think that I live a sinful lifestyle. And I'm ok with that, because that's how it works.

Thing is, none of my (current) choices are permanent. I could always start dressing more modestly, start shidduch* dating again, quit my job to move in with relatives, etc, etc. But I've made some choices. Noah has made a choice that marks him as not being of the Modern Orthodox community. A pretty permanent one, I'd say. So while I'd hesitate to say that he's "ostracized" from the community, I'd say that when he chooses to interact with the Modern Orthodox community, that they view him as a visitor, not a member. He's welcome to stop by and chat, but his decisions have made it clear that he doesn't wish to take part in that lifestyle.

I still think that it was rather silly of the school to cut him out of a photo (he did, after all, attend the school and the event), but I can understand their desire not to publicize his marriage or subsequent children. I don't agree, but I can understand. Noah isn't "lost" to Judaism, but he has chosen to absent himself from Modern Orthodoxy, just as I've chosen to absent myself from the Conservative movement in which I was raised, or the Orthodox community I found in college. It doesn't mean that I am locked out forever, I could always make some changes and go back (as could Noah, and I DON'T mean by divorcing his wife), but I've made my bed, and now I have to lie in it. As should Noah. Except not my bed, because that would be weird.

*Shidduch dating is arranged dating for the express purpose of finding a spouse.


Ezzie said...

*Exactly* :)

Jack's Shack said...

Very sensible.

BZ said...

choosing to work rather than marry young and produce children

What do you mean? In said Jewish communities, the women marry young, produce children, AND work so that their husbands can learn in kollel.

Annie said...

Ezzie and Jack- thanks.

BZ- That is yet another seperate demographic that I have chosen not to be a part of. I was talking about the (generally affluent) Orthodox, where the men work, the women have children and stay at home, which is the closest to where I have chosen to be.

steven said...

Noah Feldman's inflammatory article unleashed two weeks of debate within and about modern orthodoxy.

Not only was the article poorl argued--lumping tefillin with Oped Dei accoutrements and pulling in Yigdal Amir and Baruch Goldstein as representative examples of the movement, the social slight that justified the article--his being cropped from a class photo because he had a non-Jewish fiance--was a fabrication.

As Feldman admitted in the Jewish Week, he knew two weeks in advance of the article's publication that many photos were taken at his reunion, none of which captured all the students. The one that appeared didn't have Feldman and his wife to be, but it also excluded fourteen other people as well.

One would expect a Harvard Law professor to be more careful with the facts and less loose with prejudicial innuendo that is patently false.