Friday, September 15, 2006

The Baby and the Bath water

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Adderabbi and Curiousjew yesterday. Towards the end of my conversation with Adderabbi I was discussing my views of the various Jewish movements by saying that Jewish traditions could be considered as consisting of a bassinet containing a baby and some bath water.

Please understand all these evaluations are made with humor and love, not necessarily in that order.

The Orthodox are clustered around the bassinet,cooing over the baby and bathwater indiscriminately. Occasionally someone approaches with an eye dropper to remove some of the bath water, but they are usually shouted down. Every so often someone manages to surreptitiously flick some water out of the tub, or more commonly stir it a little.

The Reform are staring at an empty bassinet. Some people are searching for the baby,but others insist the bassinet is enough to keep them together, and everyone should have their own baby and bring it to the bassinet.

The Conservative rabbinate are in the midst of a never ending debate over where the baby begins and the bath water ends. They cluster around the bassinate so tightly that the view of the laiety is obstructed. Much of the laity has gotten bored and has wandered off to one of the other groups.

The Jewish Renewal movement has dropped some acid and is sitting around going 'Wow - look at the baby! Look at the bath water! So many colors! I can see HaShem!'

The Reconstructionists are painting a portrait of the baby and the bath water, in the style of Pointillism.

The Jewish humanists are looking away from the bassinet. They say it is impossible to say anything meaningful about babies or bathwater. But somehow, they just can't bring themselves to wander away from the area. Instead they talk about the people who stood around the bassinette before them, and the lessons they can learn from them


Orthonomics said...


Thanks for alerting me to your blog. Looks like it will be a great one. So, keep up the good postings.

Chana said...

That's hilarious and completely fabulous. I like the image. I can see all these people gathered around the baby. Now I'm amused, especially by the "Ooh, look, pretty colors!" idea.

Tara said...

"The Jewish Humanists have abandoned baby, bathwater, and bassinet. Indeed, they deny that it is possible to say anything meaninful about bathwater or babies. Instead, they are seeking to celebrate their lives through repurposing babies and bathwater to meet their current understandings of the universe."

This is probably the most uncritical and ridiculous thing I have heard. This has nothing to do with the spirit of Humanistic Judaism. What a horrible thing to say.

Larry Lennhoff said...


OK. Please suggest a better baby and bathwater analogy for the humanists that is both loving and humurous. What I wanted to do was reference their ignosticism, the notion that it is impossible to say anything meaningful about Hashem. I'll try a new draft. If you do come back, please let me know what you think of the new approach. I admit the present version sounds more like reconstructionism than humanism.

The back of the hill said...

I love the description of Jewish Renewal, Reconstructionist, and Jewish Humanist! LOL!

Now, what about Jewish Feminist Wicca? {I'm not sure if there are any 'minyonim' outside of Berkeley.]