Fire Island Synagogue (American Judaism Summer Lab)


Maybe a synagogue should be more like a summer camp –open, relaxed, free, intentional, and come-as-you-are-off-the-beach. You can read here about Shaul Magid, Basya Schechter, and the history of the Fire Island Synagogue. Let’s call it aesthetic Judaism for the counter-cultural east coast American bourgeoisie. With their own varied roots in haredi Judaism, Renewal Judaism, new Jewish music, and academic Jewish Studies, Shaul and Basya are figuring out how to bring into the synagogue combinations of music, open conversation, “spirituality,” and critical engagement. Basya is quoted, “It’s about finding a spot where something tribal happens, something unifying, and people can say, ‘I shared in something,’” I highlight this statement for its spatial orientation and because it rings true to Buber and Rosenzweig. The synagogue is a summer space-lab. “Something happens” is the exact phrase in English used by Buber to signal “revelation.” Kudos to Shaul, Basya, and to Batya Ungar-Sargon, who wrote the article.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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