Debate on Israel prayer moves to blogs


An interesting spat has broken out over my recent article about how a Brooklyn minyan, Altshul, is grappling with how to pray for Israel.

In one corner, wearing the blue and white shorts, is Ariel Beery (of Blogs of Zion, PresenTense Magazine).

In the other corner, wearing the shorts of many colors, is Daniel Septimus, the force behind Mixed Multitudes, the blog over at My Jewish Learning.

A quick recap:

  • Beery fires the opening salvo with some harsh words about how those falling out of love with the prayer (and, one assumes, with Israel generally) are moving away from identification with the Jewish people and becoming more like Protestants.
  • Septimus comes back with a post more incredulous that substantive, and the conversation moves to the comments. Beery: Judaism (in its Zionist incarnation) sees the Jews as a corporate body first, then a religious group. Septimus: How can you expect all Jews to relate to the collective in the same way?
  • Altshul arrives at a resolution: They will have a moment of silence during which people can say either the traditional prayer for the state or an alternative version (it’s the first one on this page) or presumably none at all. Beery: That’s the worst solution of all, sacrificing “collective purpose for individual comfort.” Septimus: There will be no Jewish peoplehood if it requires that we all agree.

What I don’t get about Beery’s view is this: He has a problem with Judaism as religion because it’s too narrow and limiting (“acts to tear apart our historical community”), but on the prayer for Israel he wants one version for everyone. Why no parallel worry that a prayer for Israel serves to separate the Zionistically Jewish from the spiritually/culturally/religiously/humanistically Jewish?

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