Why I dislike casual dress religious services
With the arrival of summer, clergy at our synagogue have declared the beginning of "casual Shabbat." Until autumn, we are invited to attend services in casual attire, or coats and tie if we prefer. This is not uncommon at liberal congregations.
Just come, they say.
I find the practice distasteful. Here's why:
First, we dress formally, in coat and tie, out of respect. We attend a funeral in a dark suit and somber tie out of respect for the deceased and his survivors. But Progressive clergy these days are hard at work on destroying respect for The Deity. Don't believe it? How else to explain the insistence by numbers of them on Shavuot that there is no Covenant? And that it wasn't man who broke it?
Second, it is of a piece with developing disrespect for liturgy that is thousands of years old. In every Jewish service, morning, afternoon, and evening, there is a section known as the Amidah, a collection of blessings first codified under the Great Assembly during the Second Temple period (between 516 BCE and 70 C.E.). At my shul, we are encouraged to read it in Hebrew, to read it in English, or to "follow the prayers of your own heart." Why bother paying attention to words codified in the time of Ezra?
Third, it's a reflection of the mindset of progressive clergy. If there is no Covenant, if we live in a period of "religion of no God," why are we in a house of worship? Do the clergy really accept the words of Richard Rubenstein, author of After Auschwitz, that "I believe that our problem is how to speak of religion in an age of no God"?
If the answer to why we attend services is to engage in a social organization that provides a venue for weddings, funerals, and coming-of-age ceremonies, all focused on furthering "Social Action," on electing the right people, it makes perfect sense.
Who cares, after all, how one dresses at a political rally?
Answer: no one. Just come.