Recent months have seen a wave of opinion pieces and statements — in these pages and elsewhere — that have been critical of independent minyanim. Minyanim are portrayed as too independent and not independent enough, and their participants are painted as both selfish ingrates who take from the community without giving anything back and energetic super-Jews who would automatically revitalize any synagogue they joined if only they were willing to set foot in one.
The Union for Reform Judaism convenes early next month in Toronto for its Biennial Convention, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism will follow with its biennial in December. These gatherings are opportunities for the two largest denominations in North American Judaism to take stock of the big picture. Looking at the big picture should also involve examining its frame: the ways we think and talk about our Judaism.