The following are selected comments from the blog www.baltimoresun.com/secondopinion on whether the Owings Mills Jewish Community Center should be open on Saturdays.
And on the Seventh Day, the Lord said, "Let there be racquetball." And he brought forth all manner of recreational activities, and it was good.
"Even more than the Jews have kept the Shabbos (Sabbath), the Shabbos has kept the Jews." This deep insight from the Torah tradition contains profound spiritual, psychological and sociological truths. Most non-Shabbos-observant Jews have not chosen against keeping the joy with all its joys; rather, they have not yet experienced it. Perhaps the Owings Mills JCC could ... be open for seeking Jews to be welcomed to experience all the joys, the tastes, sights, songs, Torah and prayers of a real Shabbos hosted by Torah-observant individuals and families and perhaps coordinated by local Etz Chaim. There are many good reasons why Shabbos is called a taste of the pleasures of the next world while we are still in this world!
Dr. Menachem Kovacs
The writer is director of the Jewish Roots Center in Baltimore and professor emeritus of sociology at Montgomery College in Maryland
I can understand arguments on both sides, and my gut reaction was a bit of shock at the thought of the JCC opening on Saturdays.
As a Jewish community, there are certain things that help identify us to others on the outside, one of which is observance of the Sabbath. However, as a less observant member of the community, I feel no less Jewish for not conforming to strict Shabbat standards. I drive to shul, take my kids to birthday parties for Jewish and non-Jewish friends, and on hot summer days, will take them to the community pool.
My family has a membership at the JCC and always will due to our commitment to support the Jewish community. There are times I wish we could participate in other activities on Saturdays that we attend during the more hectic work/school week in the clearly Jewish environment of the JCC.
For thousands of years, Judaism was a word connoting religion. Why else would every other sector in the annals of world history be dedicated to stamping it out? It threatened their relaxed way of life that either ignored the fact that there is a higher power that puts demands on the human race, or watered down that concept to make it easier.
The Orthodox community is not trying to force their way upon the less/non observant. They are holding on to the thousands of years old heritage that is trying to be snatched out of their hands with the dilution of the religion by those uncomfortable with the demands, responsibilities and joy that it brings its adherents.
Let the building be open on the Shabbos. Just do not call it Jewish.
The Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish communities have totally split. Indeed, Orthodox Jews have more in common with religious Christians and Muslims, than they do with their secular and increasingly distant cousins, many of whom aren't even Jews based on the traditional definition. It is naive for the Associated and the JCC to think it can serve two separate and usually antagonistic groups.