Does Religion Need Glitz?

Sept. 1 2015

Noting a trend toward competitive advertising for High Holiday services, Marc Angel rues what it implies:

Recent issues of New York’s Jewish Week newspaper, as well as other publications, have included advertisements by area synagogues that promise “inspiring” services and sermons, talented cantors, special programs for children, etc. Several hotels have placed ads attempting to lure customers to spend the holy days in their “luxurious and chic” facilities, where guests will enjoy services led by fine cantors, rabbis, and scholars in residence.

[While I was] perusing the various ads, it struck me that virtually all of them are appealing to readers’ desire to be entertained. The ads seem to be saying: come to our synagogue or hotel and you’ll have a great time, good music, good speakers, [and] lots of inspiration. You should come to us (rather than to others) because we can entertain you better, or cheaper, or for free.

I suppose it should not be surprising to find synagogues marketing themselves as entertainment centers, even if they also include “inspiration” and “meaningful” services as part of their draw. . . . Yet, in reading the pre-Rosh Hashanah ads, my heart sinks. . . .

Traditionally, the month of Elul [the final month of the Jewish calendar] is a period of self-evaluation in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Special prayers are chanted; the shofar is sounded. The season is not here to entertain us, but to challenge us. It is not meant to be a time of spiritual passivity, but a time to encourage us to raise our spiritual levels by dint of our own efforts.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

More about: American Jewry, High Holidays, Religion & Holidays, Synagogue

 

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship