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September 28, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-28

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

OPINION

CONTENTS

Is Judaism Becoming
A Pricey Showplace?

STEWART WEISS

A

question has been
bothering me for
some time now, and it
is especially appropriate to
consider it at this time of
year, when we take a spiri-
tual accounting of our
priorities: Is it becoming too
expensive to be Jewish?
From designer wedding
ketubot to leather challah-
covers to state-of-the-art
Ninja Turtle kippot, we
ought to stop and ask, "Is
Judaism pricing itself out of
the reach of the average
Jew?"
Consider, if you will, how
our approach to Jewish
observance has changed over
the last several years. While
there were always certain
aspects of Jewish observance
that were more expensive

There is an ever-
increasing
tendency for Jews
to gauge their
Judaism by how
much it costs.

than others — kosher meat
and Passover food, for in-
stance — the average Jew
could afford to be Jewish,
much like his neighbor, and
we celebrated in a pretty
uniform style.
And while there were
always rich and poor among
us, Yiddishkeit was the
great equalizer, the less and
more wealthy leaving their
portfolios behind when they
entered the shul door. In the
synagogue and the sukkah,
in a talit or yarmulka, we
achieved a unity of similar
behavior.
Not anymore. Today, the
proliferation of ornate Jew-
ish objects, gourmet Jewish
food and opulent holiday
celebration has created a
wide gap between the haves
and the have-nots, and forg-
ed, in effect, a class system of
Jewish observance.
Today we seem to judge
our talit not by its fringes,
but by the rows of silver that
adorn it. If our yarmulka
isn't leather or hand-woven
or illustrated with the latest
Bart Simpson-like

Rabbi Stewart M. Weiss is
spiritual leader of Tiferet
Israel Congregation in Dallas.

characters, we're almost
ashamed to wear it.
And bar and bat mitzvahs?
Forget it. What one rabbi
used to years ago call "that
obnoxious day of obscene os-
tentatiousness" looks tame
compared to the latest in-
novations of today, which
might include hand-
delivered edible chocolate
invitations, silver
monogrammed matchboxes
for every guest, and Jewish
rock bands flown in to per-
form for the night at
poolside.
What is a new Soviet Jew-
ish immigrant family to
think of all this, let alone try
to compete? And what of the
average Jew, who can't hire
an artist to create his/her
ketubah, who doesn't own a
fiberglass prefab sukkah
complete with heaters,
whose menorah is — perish
the thought! — not silver,
gold or a museum piece?
What of the "pasheteh
Yid" who spends his money
on the mezuzah parchment,
and not on the numbered-
artwork holder made of
crystal and Lenox? Where
does he stand in the Jewish
world of today? Is he pious or
to be pitied?
I'm not just talking con-
spicuous consumption here.
I'm describing an ever-
increasing tendency for Jews
to gauge their Judaism by
how much it costs, by how
exclusively it is celebrated,
by how unique (read: pricey)
a way they have found to ex-
press their fulfillment of the
commandments and rituals
and customs of our faith. If
this, God forbid, becomes the
norm for Jewish observance,
who but the smallest elite
can hope to compete?
Take Passover as one
prime example. Remember
when, for eight days, we all
ate at home, cooking simple
fare that tested our ingenui-
ty and made the week a tru-
ly memorable experience?
Today what food is not
available in kosher-for-
Pesach fashion? Kosher
Chinese restaurants stay
open in New York, pastry
has never been tastier (or
costlier) and one has to
choose between an interna-
tional selection of dozens of
brands of matzah.
And who stays home if
you're really "with it?" The
trick is to balance your
Pesach cruise one year with
your hotel stay the next,
with your resort and Carib-
Continued on Page 10

SPIRITUALITY

Encountering God

24

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA
During these Days of Awe,
we climb our personal Sinai.

31

Getting From
Here To There

IRA RIFKIN
Spiritual wisdom
will take some hard work.

BACKGROUND

Strange Bedfellows

HELEN DAVIS
Israel is concerned
by the U.S.-USSR partnership.

POLITICS

Financing The Votes

46

z

KIMBERLY LIFTON
Democrats and Republicans
are asked for more than votes.

SPORTS

What Happened To
The Jewish Bomber?

55 0

DAN HIRSHBERG

Since his moment of glory,
a boxer falls on hard times.

ENTERTAINMENT

67

46 High Brow

ADRIEN CHANDLER
New classical music means
ex-Detroiter Randall Woolf.

SINGLE LIFE

94

Matchmaker Magazine

GLADYS DAMON
`JewishMen' is planned
to help in the search.

DEPARTMENTS

15
37
49
50
62

Detroit
Inside Washington
Community
Synagogues
Travel

82
96
100
106
129

Cooking
Engagements
Births
Classified Ads
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

67

(f)

Friday, September 28, 1990
7:02 p.m.
Sabbath ends September 29 8:01 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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