It is fashionable in the Reform Movement world that I grew up in to adhere to Israeli/Sephardic pronunciations of Hebrew. So on Shabbat morning, we would wear a talit, rather than wearing a talis on Shabbos. We put the emphasis in the last syllable, not the first. We prayed to Adonai, not Adonoy. Etc.
The first time I can recall noticing a difference was at my cousins’ conservative shul in St. Louis, where I noticed that Kadish suddenly sounded wildly different. It sounded like a pit of hissing snakes, as scores of T sounds became S sounds.
Eventually, I came to hold two things be true: One, that the Ashkenazi way that my grandparents pronounced everything sounded silly, and two, that there was an ideological reason to go for the T’s. I became convinced during my four month stay in Israel during high school that the existence of Israel was a sign that the main stage of Jewish history was once again the land of Israel. I thought that Jewish history now only happened in Israel and the rest of us out here in the Diaspora were just a sideshow. Not that I wanted to make Aliyah, but I had some persuasive teachers while I was abroad.
And then came college. And New York. I became disenchanted with Israel and my Zionist fervor became Zionist frustration and defeatism. And after spending a considerable amount of time around New York Jews from non-Reform backgrounds, I found a foreign and distasteful couple of words in my mouth. I found myself recently saying wishing people “Good Shabbos” and complaining when I got to shul, rather than synagogue or temple, that I had left my talis at home.
But I guess that’s all in line with who I am in relation to Israel and the Diaspora these days. I don’t buy that Jewish history has returned exclusively to Israel. Rather, it has stagnated and become an inbred clot in Israel.
I’m more free to be the Jew I want to be in Texas or New Jersey than I will ever be in Israel.
So. Good Shabbos.