if a tree falls in the forest...

by Leah Bieler

I get a lot of "views" from my articles and postings on other sites. But, it felt like it was time to put it all together in one place. That way, if anyone is crazy enough to want to spend a whole afternoon reading my writing.....

It's possible that fewer people will read this blog than on those established sites. Hopefully a few of you will. You know, if a tree falls in the forest and all. Please invite your friends, (and family, and neighbors, and plumbers) to be part of the conversation. The more the merrier. So, here goes nothing.


-Leah Bieler


How annoying is this? Rabbi Avi Weiss is given a reprieve by the Rabbanut, his testimony about who is a Jew is once again to be honored. There is dancing in the (Modern Orthodox) streets! All is reverted back to the way it was, the way it should be. Big Jewish communal organizations, like the ADL and AJC, who publicly fought for this result are now drunk with power. We can force the hand of the Israeli religious establishment! We have proven our significance. 

It is worth noting that these organizations, like most of the biggest Jewish Communal groups, are staffed and funded largely by Conservative (and Reform) Jews. So, why, for the last 20 years or so, while the testimony of literally every Conservative and Reform rabbi was being rejected by the Chief Rabbinate, did these groups hold their tongues? Why no fighting when we, ourselves, are the victims? 

I called this blog Radically Conventional for a reason. It expresses how I've felt for a long time in my Jewish life and beyond. Betwixt and between. I am someone enamored  of tradition, always interested in preserving the old way of doing things. But I am also a radical. I want those traditional avenues, which I love so much, to be open to everyone who wants in. Corporate America truly open for women. Jewish life available in all its richness to LBGT searchers. The American dream attainable for kids growing up in the projects. Because I truly love all those old things, but I can't really love them if they're only there for the few. So, I balance on the edge, teetering from one side to the other, not always sure where I'll land. 

In this spirit, I hope these communal organizations will reconsider. Determining who is a Jew is serious business in a Jewish State. And women and liberal Jews fighting for recognition are only asking to be insiders in the most conventional game in town - organized religion. That's what's funny about lots of radical social movements. They like the establishment so much they want to BE the establishment. They are radically conventional. And so are many of you. Or so I hope.