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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
A gripe about Studio 60


In the Science-Shmience sketch, one of the anti-science folks is a man named "Shlomo Levy", who is identified as a member of the "Ultra-Orthodox Meir Kahane group."

Um. No.

Note - I haven't the slightest problem with them making fun of U-O Jews. They're as ripe for the mocking as any other group. And, honestly, he had a good showing - I mean, the biggest problem I had with that simple fact is that it makes no more sense for him to wear a prayer shawl to a game show than it would for a Wiccan to wear a pointy hat.

But, you see. I know a fair number of followers of R'Kahane a"h (he was assassinated 16 years ago) and none of them are Ultra-Orthodox. All of them, in fact, are pretty modern, as was Rabbi Kahane himself. This doesn't mean that there aren't/weren't (the group is pretty fractured now) U-O members of this ultra-Zionist group. It's that the group itself is/was not U-O.

The sketch was introduced with the idea they would be as factually accurate as possible - making sure that the "Bible College Student" came from a real college with "Bible" in the name (and thus not Falwell's Liberty Universeity.) You'd think they'd make equally sure that they protrayed the Jewish and Wiccan members as accurately. (The Wiccans can speak for themselves, but I've never heard of them as being particularily anti-Evolution. Or wearing pointy hats other than ironically.)

On the other hand, the fictional show-within-a-show is shown on Friday night...(I wonder if it's on opposite 30 Rock)


See, that one I get, because to many outsiders any day-to-day observant must be U-O. Case in point: an R relative referred to me as U-O and said that G grew up M-O but is "now more kind of Reform"*. Given that (a) she's not stupid and (b) she'd seen me in jeans and my mom in jeans & bare-headed in public, I can only assume that either those labels have completely different meanings in the part of the U.S.A. where she grew up or she's just not getting it. (She also had an interesting description of people at our wedding, labeling them O or "Fan" based on visual cues and getting many of them - both labels and cues-to-labels relationships - wrong.)

The part of this ep that hit my *wrong* radar was that character's use of Avraham followed by Noach as first instances of man. After all the talk re creation(ism), how could Adam not be the first name out of this religious guy's mouth? And then he gets the years wrong - Avraham was 175 (bereshit 25:7), Yishmael was 137 (25:17), and Noach was 950 (9:29) although he was 600 at the time of the flood (6:11). Granted, I had to look those details up, but even w/o looking I knew at least the number given for Avraham was wrong because it was too close to Sarah's from the beginning of Chaye Sarah.

It looks to me like someone did just enough detail searching to claim to have done the job, while completely botching said details, or else they did it deliberately to show just how wrong those U-O people are, 'cause no real U-O would watch the show (and be offended) and anyone who would watch the show would be amused. *eye-roll*

*Yes, I'm quoting her LJ, but she doesn't know that I know etc. so I won't link to it.

One of the conversations I had with the Future of Fandom over the HH was about how the Reform-Conservative-Orthodox spectrum in Judaism isn't about orthodoxy but orthopraxy, and how this means that it's possible to be very a highly Orthopractic (?is that the word) Jew without being intellectually or politically conservative or orthodox in the usual (Christian) sense.

Basically, the Christian spectrum that permeates American culture is much more about thought-control than about behavior-control, so most people assume that the Jewish spectrum is about thought-control, too, when it's really about what we *do* (or don't do). FoF says "that's why I like always thinking of myself as a Jew."

How do *you* define Ultra-Orthodox? I think of them as "the Jews who are actually ortho*dox*, not just orthopractic," but I am leery of using the term because I suspect it of being used sloppily.

I am quite surprised that Sorkin made such a mistake -- I expected him to know better, or to have easy access to people who do. But then, I never met a Wiccan in a pointy hat, either, so maybe the whole thing was supposed to be ironic?

How do *you* define Ultra-Orthodox? I think of them as "the Jews who are actually ortho*dox*, not just orthopractic," but I am leery of using the term because I suspect it of being used sloppily.

I'm not sure what you mean by that, honestly.

What's the difference between Ortho*dox* and Orthopractic? I see the two as very tied up in each other - and it's entirely possible to be very, very "orthopractic" and still be politically liberal and intellectually honest. I know a lot of people like that. The Torah has many, many levels, after all.

"Ultra-Orthodox" is rather slippery. I know an OU Jew when I see them - they're probably wearing black suits and hats *or* boxy women's suits and wigs. But they might not be - either they might not be dressed that way *or* they might be dressed that way and not be Chareidi (the better term) at all. Maybe it's a personal preference or a job requirement (say, they teach in a Chareidi school). To me, it's a matter of insularity more than anything else, and even that is hard to count on.

If Sorkin has said, "Chasidic", it would have worked better. He didn't need to say, oh, Gerer or Satmar Chasid. Or he could have said Yeshiva Rebbe, because not all Chareidim are Chasidic - many are Yeshivishe. But that's a little much for the average viewer, so Chasidic would have worked.

By "orthodox", lower-case, I mean I had the impression that they insist on subscribing to a detailed list of beliefs, similar to a Christian Creed. By comparison with Christian Nicene or Apostle's Creeds, the Shema is barely a doxology at all -- there is very little restriction on what even Orthodox Jews *believe*, it's all about what we *do*.

But I don't know if even Chareidim have a doxology, to make them "orthodox" in the Christian sense.

Well, there's Rambam's "Thirteen Principles of Faith", which sort of count.

And most Orthodox of any stripe believe that the Written Torah was given to the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, and pretty much all believe that some subset of the Oral Torah plus the rules of exegesis were given at that same time. We *do* what we do because we believe HaShem told us to do it. On the other hand, people who have lost faith often continue to do in the hopes of getting it back, and people still working on it take on mitzvot in the hopes that belief will come - doing is equal to belief.

So, I believe in miracles but I also can believe that A. they're written into the source code of the universe and B. that the big flashy ones really don't work. And I certainly can't rely on them.