Be Part of the Movement: A Conversation with Agudah CEO Rabbi Shia Markowitz
There have been several ads and articles about the upcoming Agudah event, A Movement in Time. It seems very different from past events, can you tell us more about it?
SM: Sure! I’m glad you noticed it. We worked very hard to ensure that people see that this is not just another event, it is A Movement in Time. The theme “A Movement in Time” can be loosely translated as a Movement for All Times or A Timeless Movement. In short, it’s a movement that cuts across all barriers of time.
That sounds deep, can you expand on it?
SM: The word movement has various definitions. A movement can refer to simple physical movement, but it has a much deeper and profound application. A movement can also refer to the unification of many with similar ideals to affect change and preserve those ideals. There have been many social, political and religious movements throughout history and The Agudah stands out as a movement promoting the ultimate, eternal and timeless ideals of our Torah. The Agudah has been a movement in times of turmoil and times of tranquility, in times of light and dark, in times of hope, in times of change – The Agudah has been a movement in time.
That makes sense. The historic role The Agudah has played is legendary.
SM: Yes, but this is far from being focused on the past. A moment in time is insignificant without viewing it in perspective of what preceded it and what will follow. Our movement encapsulates the entirety of our history, from our fundamental ideology to its daily application and relevance. We don’t live in the moments of our past, but rather as a movement in time. The Agudah is as relevant as ever.
That’s very interesting. I have never heard The Agudah referred to as a movement.
SM: Well, growing up in 60’s and 70’s, that was how the the Agudah was presented to us. If you read the writings of Rabbi Rosenheim, ‘Mike’ Tress and Rabbi Sherer you would clearly see that The Agudah was founded as a movement, and it continues as one to this day.
What is the difference between a movement and an organization?
SM: A movement is fundamentally different from an organization. Socialism was not an organization, neither was communism, neither are any of the isms that have come and gone throughout time. They were movements. No one asks what does socialism do. It is an invalid question. One may ask what is socialism, and what does it stand for. The Agudah is a movement. It’s not about what we do, although we do a lot, but rather who we are and what we stand for. We are a movement that has, is and will impact the world. We are a movement in time.
I think that today, a movement may not be so popular since it is wrongly associated by some of today’s generation as stigmatizing.
SM: People are afraid of Movements because belonging to them, becoming a member, says that they are tied to an ideology that they may not be totally comfortable with. Well, Agudah’s ideology is ‘Championing the causes that allow us, Torah abiding Jews, to live our lives as observant Jews, faithful to the Torah’. Is there really any frum Jew who has a problem supporting this Movement because of this ideology?
So how do you make a movement meaningful to the younger generation?
SM: We hope that this event will educate people as to what a movement is really all about. Allow me to share another aspect of the theme with you that addresses this point. A movement also refers to to a self contained piece of music, that is in essence a part of a larger composition. This is a very apropos analogy to our movement. In music, a movement musn’t be on time, but rather in time. There are an infinite number of possibilities of note combinations, each forming harmonies and rhythmic structures that merge together in unity. They are not all the same, rather it is their differences that make the music come alive, so long as the music is all in time. The Torah is our beat and an Agudist of any age, offers his or her own unique harmony, harmony that stands out as is extremely unique, but joins in unity with others and always stays in time.
So what will A Movement in Time be?
SM: We are looking forward to an amazing innovative event. It will be iyH Tuesday, May 29, at Hilton New York, Unity Reception, 5:30 p.m., Awards Ceremony and Dinner at 6:30 p.m. It will be an evening that every attendee will remember for a long time….