In these days of the 'Three Weeks' the much hoped for ideal of Jewish unity - achdut! - sometimes seems so very far away from being realised. And especially when it comes to matters of Jewish expression.
I've just finished reading a post on a 'progressive' Jewish site which was fabulously well-written, even-handed, and as truthful as it could be, under the circumstances - but still promoting something that is completely against basic Jewish halacha.
So, NOT a good fit for a frum Jewish writer....
I head over to the more 'frum' sites and I tumble into more problems and issues...stereotypical caricatures of 'frum' life... an unending stream of holocaust fiction for YOUNG CHILDREN!!! (including cartoons...), a certain unwillingness to look ourselves, as a community, in the face and to accept the reality of what it really means to try (and often fail...) to be a frum person today.
Sure, there's plenty of moaning, sniping, carping, criticism, lashon hara, preaching, commenting and over-sensitivity about what everyone else is doing wrong. But where are those voices in the mist describing their own path out of the swamp, singing out the directions for the rest of us to follow?
Where is God in this murky mess? Where is the emuna, belief, hope that things are DEFINITELY going to change for the better? Where is the beauty of the Jewish soul, amidst all the chicken recipes for shabbos and tales of terminal illnesses?
Where o where is the Jewish quirkiness, the Jewish creativity, the Jewish depth, the Jewish ability to transform the world in a completely real, completely God-fearing, completely UNpolitically-correct way, hiding out, on the Frumlit scene?
That's what I've been wondering about, recently. Until push came to shove, and I decided to try to kick something off for God-fearing Jewish creative people - writers, bloggers, authors, poets - to share their work in an uplifting, inspiring, emuna-dik way that's not centred around 'hating' or 'dissing' the other.
Below, I've set out my initial thoughts and ambitions for the network.
(Firstly, tachlis, if you're a God-fearing Jewish author who wants to get your books reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon, take a look at the Orthodox Jewish Book Reviewers group I just set up on Goodreads - and tell other God-fearing Jewish authors about it too!)
The basic idea is to create a website, a portal, where authors can share their uplifting, real writing - fiction and non-fiction - in a forum that is 100% committed to Jewish halacha, 100% against lashon hara, dissing others and controversy for its own sake, and 100% FOR Jewish creativity and building the world using the talents and abilities God has given us for just that purpose.
As things progress, I hope we'll have podcasts with Jewish authors, interviews and snippets on Youtube, and a monthly magazine of the very best stuff available as a downloadable PDF for shabbat reading.
But most importantly of all, I hope we'll have some real achdut, Jewish unity, where we can finally start to focus on all the tremendous good there is in the Jewish community, and attempt to look past our differences without compromising an iota on our commitment to Hashem and His Torah.
That's what I'm really hoping for.
If you'd like to be part of this - or you know someone that you think might like to be part of this - please ping this post along to them, and / or drop me an email HERE.
And I'll send you a more detailed proposal.
Rivka Levy's Books: