Jul 26, 2008

By any other name ...

All this time, I've been at a loss for words when filling out surveys and answering questions about how I affiliate in the Big Bad World of Judaism. I often say I'm floating, still figuring it out, exploring my options, feeling for ground. I've found a new affiliation, one that describes who I am and what I'm doing and hopefully no one can argue with it or tell me that my theology or practices don't line up with it. What is this brilliant word, this all-encompassing textual representation of Chaviva bat Avraham v'Sarah?

Underconstructionist. 

I discovered this outstanding piece of lexi-canon while writing a "Happy Birthday" message on a friend's Facebook wall just moments ago. I saw it and thought, WOW! Why hadn't I thought of that before? So I Googled the term and found this brilliant piece written by Rabbi Baruch HaLevi, a self-proclaimed Underconstructionist (with Conservative training) at a shul in Massachussettes. The word "underconstructionist" appears 222 times in the Google search, and mostly on blogs of creative Jewish bloggers like Dixie Yid. But, as it turns out, when you click through the search results, most of the entries are "repeats" and really there's only a little more than a dozen results. The affiliation seems to be a popular choice on JewishCafe.com, which appears to be yet another one of those fancy newfangled online Jewish dating sites. 

It seems to me, though, that being Underconstructionist is what most Jews (who attempt to quell their stubborn stuck-in-the-mud ways) really, truly are. It isn't so much frowning on denominationalism, but rather is the best way of saying "Listen, work in progress, so I keep sort of kosher and go to Orthodox shul but am not necessarily shomer Shabbos, get off my back! I'm workin' on it!" And this, well, is basically where I am and what I'm doing.

Inspired by some comments over on my Why People Become Orthodox post on Jewsbychoice.org by Avi, I've got a big ole blog post on my theology in the works. It's going to take a while to compose, so please be patient and understand if it doesn't show up for a month or more! Essentially, I haven't really ever gone into great lenghts about my theology, and I think a lot of people might see me as an Academic Jew, someone who relates to the history, methodologies of study, and does nothing but read read read and doesn't so much have a theological stand and thus, well, my adventure into the world of Orthodoxy might confuse and bewilder some. Believe me, my blog post my shock and appall some, but it needs to be written. So stay tuned.

And until then? This Underconstructionist Jew bids you all a good Shabbos (yes, blogging on the Sabbath over here) and a restful weekend.

3 comments:

DixieYid said...

Chavivah, hatzlacha raba in your seraching to become a better Jew. Funny thing, but I know Baruch Halevi from Iowa, though I did not originally hear the term from him. But I relate to what he said about trying to fight off answering the "affiliation" quesiton." All the best!

-Dixie Yid

Gruven_Reuven said...

Yasher Koach Chavivah on continually moving your observance further. Keep in mind though, even if you "draw the line" to orthodoxy at Shomer Shabbat, Keeping Kosher & Family Purity, then you are still "Underconstruction". We should never sit back and feel "We have arrived". We are always moving forward on our Journey as our journey never ends. Yasher Koach!!

chaviva said...

Thank you DY and GR for the comments.

GR, I agree that one should never draw a line or get cozy. That's part of my constant battle with affiliations and the idea of settling. It's when we settle and start to feel cozy that we lose site of things.

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