Jewish Web Master Daniel Sieradski lit the blogosphere on fire last week with his appointment as Director of Digital Media at the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
A self-proclaimed Orthodox Anarchist, Sieradski has taken the plunge from being the king of the Jewish blogosphere to the mainstream of Jewish media.
Founder and author of the blogs Jewschool, Radical Torah, Corner Prophets, and Jew It Yourself/ Shul Shopper, Sieradski got his start as a Manhattan-based web developer for major Jewish communal organizations, including the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, JDub Records, NCSY, Matisyahu, and others. He also DJed on the Israeli-Palestinian All For Peace Radio.
Sieradski’s values and priorities are useful to understanding the threshold where Judaism stands today. Perched between denominations, supporting Israel and invoking criticism of its government’s policies, promoting a two state solution with the Palestinians, but decrying the violent obstacles in its wake, Sieradski epitomizes the concerns of the young, analytical Jewish adult.
As Sieradski has already been hailed expertly and insightfully by friends and admirers, I will leave you with his words to follow.
Best Links for Learning about Sieradski
- In his own words, Sieradski bids farwell in the Orthodox anarchist
- Wikipedia entry on Sieradski
- Tikkun’s interview by David Siwek– a masterpiece of a biopic (click on it through the Wikipedia entry)
- Kris Krug interview
- The Forward’s profile for a general overview
Tikkun Magazine (vol. 20, No. 4, “An Interview with an Orthodox Anarchist,” by Daniel Siwek)
- On himself: “I am come from an orthodox upbringing and I am a radical anti-capitalist, anti-fascist activist who engages in direct-action-style civil disobedience”
- On the controversy surrounding his ideas: “An arch stays up because you have two sides pressing against one another, so to me [my views] don’t clash; they’re congruous, if not interconnected”
- On Israel: “I’m doing activism in Israel because I refuse to allow the actions of the Israeli government to transpire in the name of the Jewish people. I refuse to let them own Judaism in that way”
- On Judaism: “I’m not exactly Orthodox. I’m reengaging with halakha, on the path to becoming Baal Teshuva. I envision myself as becoming Orthodox, but yeah, not like ‘them.’ I would say I’m a Jew. Period”
- On being Jewish: “Denominations are dead and dying. I don’t identify with any of them, and I’m sure they don’t want to identify with me. You’re not religious because ‘your grandparents didn’t go through the Shoah [Holocaust] for nothing,’ you’re religious because G-D calls out to you and ‘hineni’ [Here I Am] rolls off your tongue”
- On G-D: “I’ll put it to you in my terms: G-D and the service of G-D are ultimately more important than the Jewish identity or the Jewish state”
Kris Krug Interview:
- On Hasidism: “Hasidism is basically what Sufism is to Islam, what Gnosticism is to Christianity, or what Shamanism is to native traditions. It’s a mystical school of Judaism which as an extraordinary focus on understanding one’s relationship to divinity and the means by which one perfects themself in order to be in that perfect relationship”
- On mysticism in the Jewish tradition: “I’m basically trying to establish hard evidence of the Shamanic tradition in ancient Judaism and find ways of resurrecting it for the modern era.”
- On his writing: “It’s nice to be appreciated but I lament not being palatable enough to wider audiences”
- On his controversial photo shoot with Tikkun Magazine (see image above): “The greatest intent was to evoke a visceral reaction in order to force people to question their underlying assumptions about the nature of the Middle East Conflict. So I fashioned a Jewish prayer shawl from an Arab headscarf and wore it along with my phylacteries [ritual object worn during Jewish prayer] posing next to the Israeli separation barrier in a pose most often seen in photographs of people visiting the Western Wall, the holiest shrine in Judaism”