Sunday, August 5, 2007

Noah Feldman

I finally got to read Noah Feldman's piece on the dilemmas of modern Orthodoxy in the Sunday Times Magazine of two weeks back. I find the published Orthodox critiques of Feldman hyperbolic and inconsistent with a fair reading of the piece. In fact, I believe they mischaracterize both what Feldman said, and his likely intent in saying it. (I am not taking a position on certain highly specific accusations against Feldman and the Times pending further factual clarification.) For now, I've taken down my postings of excerpts from two of the critical pieces; perhaps I can return to consider why they characterize Feldman as they do. But not right away.

Long time readers will know that my own Jewish identification and sympathies are post-denominational, with strong ties to the havurah movement. My patterns of belief and practice are not modern Orthodox, although I certainly have friends and persons I admire within that stream of Judaism. Feldman's exploration of the dilemmas of modern Orthodox identity resonated strongly with me, and have salience for more liberal-minded Jews, although the particulars take different form (including parallel tensions with our more secular-minded friends and colleagues, some of whom approach any religious sensibilities as atavistic and incomprehensible in thinking persons of any intelligence). Frankly, I think this is one of the more sympathetic and persuasive pieces by Feldman that I've read.

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