The NYT is reporting that Jewish synagogues are enticing new members with yoga. They’re mimicking the recruiting techniques of evangelical megachurches, even though some evangelicals have later disavowed yoga as heathen and tried to Christianize it.
A group of New York-area congregations… refashion their synagogues into religious multiplexes on the Sabbath, featuring programs like “Shabbat yoga” and comedy alongside traditional worship… a… synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan… has organized Sabbath programs around tai chi and nature walks. Others have tried yoga classes and stand-up comedy as a means of Sabbath observance. [Link]
Comedy in a synagogue? What, they’re showing Seinfeld? I say, get your own damn gimmick. You don’t see Hindus serving matzoh ball soup (mmm, matzoh ball soup). You don’t see Muslims serving wine with a wink-wink, ‘It’s sangre, not sangrÃa.’ Red dearth and pour in vain.
And what’s this about Shabbat yoga? Aren’t you supposed to avoid work on Shabbat? I guess that rules out Bikram yoga. Besides, you’re nicking the wrong gimmick. Want to rip a desi religion? A friendly suggestion: serve Sikh-style langar (mmm, langar). Treble attendance, guaranteed
Although Abhi apparently needs a hug, my favorite recruiting technique is the one practiced by a very, very dangerous cult I walk past every morning on the Bandra promenade by the Arabian Sea. It’s called the Laughter Club of Joggers’ Park, and it’s 50 uncles and aunties laughing in unison, ‘Ho-ho, ha-ha-ha,’ like deranged, elderly cheerleaders. Every morning I watch apple-cheeked grannies and patka-clad uncles bending side to side expelling belly laughs. One morning a beggar missing a couple of his toes sat on the ground chortling along with them.These deviants practice their dark arts in a triangular park called Laughter Heaven. The park’s wrought-iron fence weaves in red, blue and yellow smiley faces and the magic incantations ‘Ha’ and ‘Ho.’ They’re aggressive recruiters, catching young adults watching and beckoning to join in their sick activities.
And it is absolutely irresistible. You see 50 senior citizens, Hindu-Parsi-Muslim-Christian-Sikh, laughing their butts off every morning, and they’re just having a ball.
If I’m not back online in 24 hours, call in the deprogrammers. Ho-ho, ha-ha-ha!