Thursday, July 23, 2015

Time to dump the "Orthodox" label?

Let's face it. Left Wing Modern Orthodoxy, Open Orthodoxy, or whatever you want to call it, has much more in common, philosophically and in their general outlook, with heterodox movements than with right wing Orthodoxy. The only thing that binds LWMO/OO with RWO is basic halachic observance, and even the philosophical and practical approaches to halacha differ.

And then there's the independent minyan movement, which has a huge contingent of halachically observant folks, not to mention the observant JTS types, who people tend to dub "Conservadox". Beyond the variability of whether there's a mechitza or not, there's hardly any difference at all between LWMO, OO, Independent minyanim, and Conservadox.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of labels, and most of the time I tend to just say that I'm halachically observant and attend an Orthodox shul. Functionally, I guess you could call me LWMO.

But given the ubiquity of labels and the fact that they do serve some functional purpose, I wish there was one that showed my affinity with those concerned with tikun olam, human rights, compassion for the less fortunate, exploration of intellectual truth, feminist ideals, and open dialogue.

As long as that "Orthodox" sits there in the labels that people would tend to apply to me (given my functional affiliations), it ties me to an increasingly out of touch, extremist, and fundamentalist world which exhibits xenophbia, sexism, racism, authoritarianism, contempt for others, anti-intellectualism, and close-mindedness.

The string between the Charedi world and the left wing of Orthodoxy is very frayed has little beyond semantic significance. Maybe it's time to just snap it, once and for all.

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