"Empowered Judaism," the title of a new book by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, has become a generational watchword for those watching the growth of the Independent Minyan movement. I'm going to be discussing this book on Shabbat morning, reacting to some of its more challenging assertions. You can read an excerpt, entitled: The Real Crisis In American Judaism Also see: Minyans, Synagogues In New Dynamic, Get Serious About Your Jewish Life: An Interview with Elie Kaunfer, and Rabbi Gordon Tucker's Rebuke To Kaunfer (it is noteworthy that Rabbi Tucker's son Ethan is a partner of Kaunfer's in the Indie Minyan movement).
I take Kaunfer's challenges seriously, though, like Tucker, I find his critique of the traditional synagogue weak. There is no question that there is much that is good about synagogue life but also that there is much that should change. But having grown up Jewishly under the tutelage of Elie Kaunfer's parents (his mom was my all time favorite Hebrew School teacher), I take his words especially seriously. They challenge not only the ways of the large synagogue, but also those of the small havurah groups that have proliferated over the past generation. Having met last week with JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen and fellow rabbis of the Chancellor's Leadership Council, I know that there is much work to be done in revitalizing the synagogue.
I look forward to an interesting discussion of the topic at services this Shabbat.