(Crossposted to Mah Rabu.)
10 years ago this week, I published “Taxonomy of Jewish pluralism” to Mah Rabu, a brand-new blog that was simply a couple months old. It was a golden era of blogging in basic, and Jewish blogging in specific. Twitter didn’t exist yet; Thefacebook existed but was simply for university student; blogs were where it was at.
This post, framed as a “work in development”, defined three various “stages” of Jewish pluralism:
Stage 1: “Frummest common measure”.
Phase 2: “Let’s make everybody comfortable”.
Phase 3: Identity.
The taxonomy happened as an outcome of my experiences with multiple Jewish communities that were all trying to be pluralistic, but in practice meant very various things by “pluralism”. Defining these phases was a method to articulate these different techniques to Jewish pluralism, as well as a way to highlight the methods in which some views are marginalized and silenced by some types of pluralistic discourse.
This part has frequently been misunderstood, however the taxonomy categorizes pluralistic discourse, not pluralistic outcomes. It’s not about what the neighborhood winds up doing, however about how it arrives. So, for example, a Stage-1 pluralistic neighborhood might have similar practices to a non-pluralistic neighborhood, but the distinction is that in one community, those practices are embraced due to the fact that they are viewed to be a “common measure” that is appropriate to everybody despite the fact that it is recognized that everybody has differing individual practices, while in the other community, those practices are embraced since they are seen as the norm for the community.
“Taxonomy of Jewish pluralism” seemed to reach a time when it was needed, and it ended up being more influential than I ever expected; to this day I still become aware of pluralistic Jewish organizations that are appointing it as needed reading. It likewise ended up being the foundation of the theoretical structure of the Hilchot Pluralism series, which became a place to methodically record and analyze pluralistic practices in the independent Jewish world.
So, One Decade later on, do I still concur with it? Yes and no.
I still stand by almost every word in the original post. I believe the categories themselves are still useful, and precise enough as descriptions of various modes of discourse. I think the imperfections of Phases 1 and 2, and the difficulties of Stage 3, are still pertinent.
Where my thinking has actually changed is in identifying the categories as “phases”. That’s the part of the initial post that had the weakest support– I had a lot of information (from my own experiences) about how various pluralistic neighborhoods operate, but not a lot longitudinal data about communities that actually changed their approaches. Two separate influences made me review the “phase” structure: 1) I have actually been associated with pluralistic decision-making in neighborhoods that were facing multiple pluralism problems, and have actually seen that it’s not constantly possible to take a consistent strategy to all concerns, due to the fact that of the varying nature of those concerns. 2) The initial taxonomy was modeled after academic theories such as Piaget’s phases. Ever since, my understanding of instructional theory has ended up being deeper (10 years ago I was a high school physics instructor, and now I have a Ph.D. in physics education research), and reviews of Piaget are also valid critiques of “Taxonomy of Jewish pluralism”.
Why aren’t “phases” the right description? Since this description suggests that an offered neighborhood is in a single phase of pluralism (or non-pluralism) at any one minute in time, and takes a single strategy to pluralistic discourse around all problems that might show up. However that’s not how any neighborhood truly works. Every community has issues around which it does not attempt to be pluralistic. And on concerns where a community does consider itself pluralistic, it’s possible for the exact same neighborhood to take a Stage-1 method to some concerns and a Stage-3 technique to others. Several “stages” can exist side-by-side at the very same time. (It’s also possible that some individuals in a neighborhood will aim to suggest for a position making use of discourse from one phase, while others utilize discourse from another. If this isn’t really recognized, it can cause individuals talking past one another.)
For those who wish to see their neighborhoods take a Stage-3 method to pluralism, this more fragmented picture can be seen in a half-empty or a half-full method. The half-empty viewpoint is that even when you believe you remain in a Stage-3 commmunity, the other “stages” never ever truly go way. However the half-full viewpoint is that if you wish to move a community to Stage 3, you do not have to do it all at once; this can take place one issue at a time (even if there are some issues where other “phases” are more entrenched).
What are the methods that you discover it beneficial to consider Jewish pluralism in 2015?
Jul 24, 2015BZ