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February 16, 1990 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

FOCUS I

B'nai Moshe

Continued from preceding page

officials expect to sign an
agreement with the Jimmy
Prentis Morris Jewish
Community Center to use
that facility for services,
Roth said. The offer does not
include office space so the
synagogue plans to rent an
office in West Bloomfield.
But the fight to provide the
synagogue with a new per-
manent home in West
Bloomfield continues.
Oakland County Circuit
Court Judge Hilda Gage has
yet to set a hearing date to
decide whether B'nai Moshe
can build a new facility on a
15-acre parcel on Drake
Road, south of Maple Road.
The synagogue filed suit
after West Bloomfield
Township trustees denied

the congregation's building
plans in November.
The synagogue's option to
purchase the parcel expires
Feb. 21. Roth said it is too
costly and will not be renew-
ed. He said options already
have been renewed three
times, costing the synagogue
a total of $9,000 for each new
contract.
The congregation's board
has a meeting Feb. 20 to
decide whether to let the op-
tion expire or to purchase
the land.
Roth would have liked to
have the court case decided
before the option expired,
but that looks unlikely.
"Obviously the whole
situation is frustrating,"
Roth said. ❑

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52

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1990

800-533-8778
IN NY: 212-629-6090

VAUD FROM 6/1 TO 3190

New York (JTA) — At a
time when Reconstructionist
Jews are heralding the
movement's new prayerbook
as a milestone in innovative
theology, the spiritual
leader of the movement's
flagship synagogue is ad-
vocating a return to tradi-
tional texts.
Rabbi Alan Miller of
Manhattan's Society for the
Advancement of Judaism re-
cently gave a three-part lec-
ture series in which he pierc-
ingly criticized the
Reconstructionist prayer-
book and the ideas of the late
Mordecai Kaplan, the
founder of SAJ and of
Reconstructionism and au-
thor of the movement's first
prayerbook in 1945.
"Why was Kaplan in such
a hurry to denude the
prayerbook of things that
are enormously important?"
Miller demanded, alluding
to Kaplan's abandonment of
such classic talmudic con-
cepts as chosenness and res-
urrection.
Reconstructionism, found-
ed by Kaplan in 1935,
sought to merge Jewish tra-
dition with then-modern
ideas such as rationalism
and pragmatism. In the last
generation, younger
Reconstructionist activists
have incorporated feminism,
environmentalism and New
Age ideology into their theo-
logy.
The new Reconstructionist
prayerbook, restores some of
the traditional ideas in
deference to the movement's
new openness to mysticism.
At the same time, it is fill-
ed with many contemporary
concepts as well: It avoids re-

ferring to God as "He," lists
matriarchs as well as
patriarchs, and contains
"alternative" prayers, visu-
al aids for personal medita-
tion and new English trans-
lations.
The British-born Miller,
an urbane and, by his own
admission, "abrasive" rabbi,
was ordained at an Orthodox
seminary and was a
longtime Reconstructionist
stalwart until "five or six
years ago, when the move-
ment decided to accept
patrilineality" — meaning
that it accepted children of
Jewish fathers and non-
Jewish mothers as Jews
without requiring conver-
sion.
"I have enormous respect
for Kaplan," Miller said.
"He created the free pulpit.
Even during the McCarthy
period, any rabbi could say
whatever he wanted from
this pulpit. It was he who
enabled me to talk this
way."
However, Miller lam-
basted Reconstructionism
for propagating what he
termed "Jewish kitsch,"
charging that the movement
over- simplified and thereby
distorted Jewish texts.
"I question God; I question
the mitzvahs, but I don't
question that the Torah is
the book of the Jewish peo-
ple," Miller said. "Kaplan
puts stress on Jews not being
the chosen people. I don't
think Jews are better, but
we are different. The em-
phasis must be that the
Torah is not superior, but it
is ours. It is our havdalah
—that which makes us diff-
erent."

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