Over the years I have been asked:
What kind of a rabbi are you?
To which I answer without hesitation:
A good rabbi!
And then my interlocutor stammers a bit and says:
No, no, what… oh, ah…. Are you…?
At which point I gently interrupt and say:
I mention this here, now, because over at the JPS Interactive blog Sara Simkin used the term “flavors” to describe various groups in contemporary Jewish life.
I shared my thinking:
I’m so glad to see the use of the term “flavors” here. I have used the word and described myself as a “Neapolitan Jew” for many years.
I explain the expression in the following manner: There is no “progression” from one “movement” or “stream” of Judaism to any other (as in a rainbow or a color wheel). Each flavor elicits a different taste in the mouth of the participant. Some flavors stress the peoplehood aspect of what it means to be a Jew, other flavors stress the fulfillment of תרי“ג מצוות. And in the meantime, other flavors stress the ethical aspects of the מצוות… and on they go.
None of these are necessarily mutually exclusive. However, in the way that vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry each tickle different parts of our taste buds but turn to mush when melted, each flavor of Jewish living offers special qualities that get lost when it is not respected for what it has to bring.
Whenever I speak about the various flavors in Jewish life I do so in alphabetical order to make clear that that is the only meaningful “progression”. So we can speak of (and this is by no means complete):
And, as you can see, some of these overlap. Sara’s list is a bit different from mine here, and others have commented there adding more. Please feel free to
I am a member in good standing in one particular rabbis’ organization for professional and collegial purposes. I have at various times been a member of other groups of rabbis (both professionally and ideologically). You get the idea.
|Text||Rabbis for Human Rights — North America
[in Arabic and Hebrew as well as English]