Charles Silberman, Chick Silberman, Christian, Christian prayer, Davvenin' Leadership Training Institute, Jesus, Jewish prayer, Jews for Jesus, troglodyte
I’ll admit it – I’m a troglodyte.
In case you’re not familiar with the word, a troglodyte (according the Merriam-Webster online dictionary) is “a caveman; or a person characterized by reclusive habits or outmoded or reactionary attitudes.”
Their example is priceless: “The troglodytes believed that women had no place in the military, except as nurses.”
Which doesn’t make me feel any better about fitting the description, but there it is. Can’t help myself.
Because I had started looking forward to the second segment of the Davvenin’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI), and was feeling pretty good because I’ve gotten over the fear of it being too new-agey for me. But then the folks on the listserve started talking about exploring Jesus as a rabbinic teacher and mystic, and the appeal of gospel music, and how they want to delve into this during the next session (which is in a couple of weeks). It all started with Shabbat and Christmas coinciding this year, and has snowballed since then.
Let me stop right here and say that I have absolutely nothing against Christian prayer. (To paraphrase the famous “I’m not prejudiced, really I’m not!” protestation, some of my best friends are Christian.) But I will freely admit that I’ve got an agenda that doesn’t include expanding the boundaries of Jewish observance to include Christian, Hindu, Vedic, Muslim, or any other religious practice.
Yes, I know the Jewish-Buddist overlap has been explored for many years (I’m pretty sure that there are still people who refer to themselves as Jew-Bu’s) and there is obviously some relation between Christian prayer and Jewish prayer, seeing as the early Christians also considered themselves to be Jews.
But all I want out of this particular training experience is to explore Jewish prayer and learn how to be a better service leader, and I want to work within my own tradition. Which is rich enough without having to borrow from other people’s.
This reminds me of what triggered me to return to Judaism after years of non-observance. It was 1988, I was living in Atlanta, and was invited to visit a messianic synagogue, aka Jews for Jesus. I felt then, and still feel today, that they took two beautiful faith traditions and unsuccessfully tried to smash them together.
So once again, I find myself preparing to travel to the Berkshires, and along with worrying about the snow and cold (after 13 years of living in Florida, my wardrobe is woefully lacking in cold weather wear) I’m now a teeny bit leery of what I’m going to find, aside from chilly toes. My only solace is that last time, when I was all het up about the touchy-feely stuff, I dealt with it easily enough. I hope it’ll be the same this time.
The hardest part about writing this post is knowing that I won’t receive an e-mail response from my friend Charles Silberman, who died early this morning. Chick was a great raconteur, a wonderful writer, and more than my equal when it came to being snarky about things he didn’t like. I know he would have had a funny story to tell, or some deliciously snide comment to make me laugh (which I probably wouldn’t have shared here, because he didn’t particularly worry about being PC and therefore rarely held back). I’ll miss his e-mails, his gravely voice, his sense of humor, and above all, the love and support that he gave unstintingly to those he cared about. I am very lucky to have been one of those people. I’m going to miss him terribly.
Shalom! As you know, I won’t be with you at DLTI. So I’d love to know how this goes for you! One thing I will add to the conversation, however, is that the pre-Easter Jesus has been a profound, inspiring teacher for me. He prayed, lived and taught as a Jew, though he was (and remains) terribly misinterpreted, misunderstood, and cast in roles he never claimed for himself. I have been reclaiming him, his teachings (founded on the teachings of the Rabbis that preceded him), and my right as a Jew to learn from what he taught in his own Jewish communities. I know this can be challenging because of how Jesus (as crucified Christ) has been used to brutalize Jewish communities. So I offer this comment with sensitivity to the centuries of collective trauma associated with his name. I went through my own journey to find the Jesus that spoke to me as Jewish brother and teacher. I will be praying for your safe trip to DLTI and yummy time with all those wonderful DLTI-ers!
Big love and gratitude, your old roomie, krayna
Re: re-connecting with Judaism. I was in Salt Lake City and toured the Tabernacle with 2 Jewish friends, neither of whom was at all observant, on a Friday. Afterwards, they both asked if they could join Larry and me when we went to synagogue that Shabbat; we all needed to re-immerse in our own
heritage after the Mormon exposure.
Roscoe George said:
I agree with you on sticking to Jewish prayer and observance at the forthcoming retreat in the Berkshires.
Exploring Jewish-Christian prayer similarities, etc., and gospel music, and other “inter-faith” topics is for the National Conference of Christians and Jews. They are not fit subjects for a Jewish retreat. Enjoy the experiece and return home strengthened and rejuvenated.