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2 years ago  ::  Jul 16, 2012 - 9:55AM #41
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Relocation is not possible due my lack of money and my lack of marketable skills, as well the dearth of jobs out there. Plus, I like it here.


When I inititally converted from Christianity to Judaism, one of the benefits I perceived was the simplification of theology.


I didn't need to worry about questions like the Incarnation and the Atonement. The Trinity never bothered me because if we're positing that anything like a God exists, then why the heck not? But the Christological stuff didn't add up, and I thought that Judaism would be a lot easier to deal with, intellectually.


Except what I gained in theological simplicity was eaten up by what I lost in legalistic super-complexity.


Reform's stance on Law makes the most rational sense to me. It's absurd to me that anything like a God would care what we eat or what we do on Saturdays and all these ritual laws are just made up by humans for human benefit, that there things we make up and choose to do to express our relgious ideas and group identity and so forth. Okay, fine. Except that a lot of Orthodox and (surprisingly) Conservative Jews that I have met have a lot of fun trashing Reform. Despite being the largest affiliated movement in the US, it can't get no respect.


Reconstructionism seemed to be the answer, then, becasue they're more serious about being grounded in tradition and connection to peoplehood and all that. However, there are two problems: Reform at least officially professes belief in a real God; Reconstructionists jibber-jabber about God as an idea or the "force that makes for salvation" or whatever wishy-washy liberal claptrap comes out of RRC these days. I really identified with Arthur Green's neo-Kabbalism, but then he also doesn't really believe in a real God.


The second problem is the peoplehood thing itself. I don't believe in it. It's funny: I can maintain belief in a God without any evidence, but without any evidence of a single unifed "Jewish people," I can reject that. Whatever. As Howie has demonstrated, I don't feel the mystical family bond that all Jews are supposed to have for one another, no matter what. I just don't. Just knowing that Person A is a Jew and Person B is not does not make me feel anything magical about Person A that I don't feel about Person B. Reading about bad things happening to Jews doesn't make me feel any worse than reading about bad things happening to anyone else.


That being said, I am completely turned on by hirsute circumcised men with glasses, but that's probably just eroticized narcissism rather than any "peoplehood" feelings.


So, I want connection to people who believe in a real God. The only Jews I encountered who shared that were (to some limited extent) Conservative but mostly Orthodox. Oh, I met some non-theistic Orthodox and they made NO SENSE to me whatsoever.


But their theism came with legalism. I could suspend disbelief enough to maybe accept that God issues 613 commandments. Don't eat pork, don't mix beef and cow milk, don't light a fire on Saturday. Fine. But the extremes to which the Laws get taken, all of the rules upon rules upon rules that one has to follow to be Orthodox just made my head swim and I couldn't deal with it. It just didn't seem fair. There just doesn't seem to be any way to win..


You either have to bite the bullet and drink the (kosher) Kool-Aid and accept all the silly absurd and annoying rules, or live with never being "good enough."


I can't do either. So, I'm screwed.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 16, 2012 - 11:54AM #42
river8101
Posts: 5,557

I don't live with any of those rules and neither did my parents or most of my extended family. Still, AFAIK, no one in my family ever converted to anything else.    But for me it's a birth thing, just like my parents and I and my children and grandchildren being born in America.  It's in my genes.  This is what I am. Had I lived in Europe, I likely wouldn't be alive today to have done the things I'm proud I have done, or known my family and my friends.  Dogmatism of any religion   doesn't appeal to me, especially Christianity. That's probably a personal thing, as I'm older than you and I haven't forgotten all the anti-Semitism I lived through from Christians.  I haven't forgotten about the Holocaust either.  The first time I saw pictures of it, I was in the movies with my girlfriend, and I was so startled, I couldn't swallow. I never forgot it.  Those were my people, it could have been me and my parents.  It was frightening and worse it was sickening.


I'm Jewish and I really don't care much about all the religious rules I read about on this forum or the rules and beliefs in any other religious forums.   I wasn't brought up in orthodoxy.  My dad was a religious man in his generosity and kindness. He was also into sports, musical theater, books, and history.  (He was a remarkable man, and I loved him more than I can say.)  My mom had her interests too but they were somewhat different than mine.  Anyway, I'm Jewish, and it's what I am. I'm proud of all the art, music and science that Jews have contributed, despite all the persecution, restrictions and discrimination the Christians have laid on us.  Most non Jews aren't even aware of what we have gone through nor do they care.  It's not as out there today as it used to be, (it's beneath the surface), but it's still there and most Jews are aware of it, even if they don't talk about it in mixed company, or possibly even among themselves anymore.   As to beliefs, I'm probably closer to pantheism than orthodoxy in any religion. 

“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 16, 2012 - 3:19PM #43
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

River,


Your experience is part of one of the great tensions of Jewishness: is it a "people" or a "religion?"


You can convert into it, but yet you are born into it, too, and you can totally not follow any of the laws or rules - you can even not believe in God! - and still you're counted as a member of the group.


But if you do convert into it, then you had best believe or practice in exactly the right way or else you're not really part of the group, at least not according to some people.


So, pretty much everyone would agree that you, River, are a Jew. No one would question your credentials. There are ultra-Orthodox sects that would consider your lack of ritual observance as evidence that your yichus is tainted and thus would never allow your children or grandchildren to marry into their families, but still: you're a Jew.


If you weren't born a Jew, however, and for some reason you decided you wanted to be one, then you'd have to convert. And then you'd have to choose how to convert, and where and with whom. If you went to an Orthodox community, you'd have to buy into a lot of really absurd ideas and follow a lot of ridiculous rules and be held to a higher standard than anyone else in the community - and then if you ever slip up you still run the risk of having some batch of a**-hats like the Chief Rabbinate of Israel either deciding you're not kosher enough for them or retroactively invalidating your Jewish status.


If you go to a non-Orthodox community, then you'll have to check the scorecard to determine who does or does not think you're actually a Jew.


Maybe that doesn't matter if you're happy and comfortable in your community? Maybe! But then there's Israel, and then there's all the Jew-on-Jew infighting and its really annoying. Exhausting. And for what?


 

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 16, 2012 - 6:11PM #44
river8101
Posts: 5,557

The only Jews I know who are not consisdered Jews anymore are those who convert formally to another religion, and go to church and raise gentile kids to believe in Jesus.   Doesn't depend on whether a Jew goes to shul anymore or temple, or eats kosher food, or marries out or anything else.  It just depends on what they say they are.  I sang in church as a young teen, but no one thought I wasn't Jewish. (quite the opposite.)  What's a Jew like you singing in church?) answer. " Shut up.  I'm the only alto in the accopella (sp) choir."  (Momentary confusion then laughter.)


I'm not kosher, nor were my parents.  No one thought we weren't Jewish.  I had both Jewish and Gentile friends in High School.   I grew up in a Gentile neighborhood, and felt comfortable with non Jews, as long as they didn't try to convert me.  I had Jewish friends too, but no one thought of me as a non Jew.  And if they did, too bad.   I can't believe these things you say. I can't speak Yiddish, and don't keep a kosher home, though my parents could speak fluent Yiddish, but only when they didn't want me to understand what they were talking about.  But no one thinks I'm not a Jew.   I love Israel, and though I've never been there, I'm very glad it's there.   Ya never know when the Christians might want you out.  I read those Nixon papers between Billy Graham (that great Christian preacher) and Nixon, and they sure wanted us out.   Lots of Christian people do.  But so far, we've been safe here.  Not the same in many South American countries. Good thing they had a place to go.  And that's what you don't get.  Jews do need a strong and independent Jewish place to go when the Christians and/or Muslims want them out! 


I can only assume it's the community you live in.  But, let me tell you that most American communities don't think about Jews the way you described, unless perhaps they're Hasidic or something. (which I know very little about)   My mom thought they were ... well I'll keep that to myself.   My daughter-in-law was brought up Catholic, then she was pagan, now she's a committed orthodox Jew.  Surprised me, I can tell you.   She keeps a strictly kosher home, became an excellent cook, and can bake her own chally breads and lots of other delicious Jewish style foods I've never eaten.  I know my other son or daughter would never go that far, but everyone knows they're Jewish.


My daughter went to a Catholic girl school 3 yrs. for Jr. Hi. because she hated the school she was in. Private schools were very expensive, so she went to Notre Dam which was also expensive, (but not as much) so we could afford it.  At least for 3 years.  She had to take religion classes but never thought of converting.  Quite the opposite.  Didn't believe any of it, but loved the school and the girls. Made lots of friends.   After 3 years, it was back to public Hi School. She was sad for a while, but hey, it's high school, and there's boys!  (Financial problem solved.)  In the case of my daughter-in-law, her Catholic parents support her completely, and there is no problem. 


I don't know the kind of Jewish people you know, but I doubt most Jews are like the ones you do know.  Still, if you're uncomfortable with it, you did the right thing by leaving.  I wish you well.  I hope you find what you're looking for.  I really do. 

“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 17, 2012 - 12:47AM #45
LeahOne
Posts: 16,396

Dan, I'm just sorry to hear that you're so unhappy.  : ((  


Just about everything that River said, I would've told you myself....  If you'd like to try life in New England, drop me a PM and we'll start looking for the spare room : ))

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 18, 2012 - 5:39AM #46
river8101
Posts: 5,557

It appears Nieciedo is unhappy, and blames it on his choice of a religion which he doesn't like or want anymore.  More than doesn't like it, he very much dislikes it , and finds it stupid and ridiculous. Imo, he shouldn't blame it all on Judaism.  He should partially blame himself because he chose it. He chose it most probably for the wrong reasons.  It happens.   So, all he has to do is quietly leave, put it behind him and either join something else or just practice a spiritual path that makes sense to him on his own.  My confusion is why he keeps putting Judaism down on this forum.  He joined, didn't like it and nobody’s forcing him to stay.


It's like a marriage. The partners think they're in love, marry, then discover they can't get along, have nothing in common, don't even like each other, so what should they do?  They can try counseling, and if that doesn't help, they can divorce.   But hey, don't keep blaming the failure of the marriage on the other partner, when both should have realized they just weren't wise enough to get to get to know each other better to begin with.  If they had, they would have discovered they weren’t meant for each other at all and such a marriage would never work out.  So they can divorce, but please, after the divorce, go your separate ways and stop talking about the miserable faults of the other person, when the truth is you were never meant for each other in the first place. 


If you had been Jewish to begin with, and decided you didn't like it, or didn't agree with it, and switched to Christianity, or something else, you might have discovered that in time you thought that, that religion made no sense to you either.  Or if you joined a religion with few beliefs or rules, you might have discovered that, that religion didn’t have enough meaning for you.  You can then be a religion shopper, (not that unusual in America), and maybe eventually find something you really did like, or discover that no religion is quite right for you, and make up your own "spiritual path," one that you feel totally comfortable with. Or you could end up up being a religious bachelor, liking a little bit of many different religions, but also problems in them all so ... not enough to join any.  Nothing wrong with that.  Quite normal.


 

“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 18, 2012 - 10:21AM #47
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

Jul 16, 2012 -- 3:19PM, nieciedo wrote:


River,


Your experience is part of one of the great tensions of Jewishness: is it a "people" or a "religion?"


You can convert into it, but yet you are born into it, too, and you can totally not follow any of the laws or rules - you can even not believe in God! - and still you're counted as a member of the group.


But if you do convert into it, then you had best believe or practice in exactly the right way or else you're not really part of the group, at least not according to some people.



BS"D


That kind of insanity you observe is endemic to the plague of sectarianism which has acted in such a way as to obfuscate Jewish identity with a very narrow and ignorant religious perspective.  If Jews were more numerous we could dismiss such ignorance as fundamentalism or brain damage.  Since we are not a very numerous people on this Earth the significant quantities of sectarians paint Judaism as a mere religion.  It was never a mere religion.  It was and always will be a people with all the cultural and historical baggage that goes along with it IMHO.


Jul 16, 2012 -- 3:19PM, nieciedo wrote:

If you weren't born a Jew, however, and for some reason you decided you wanted to be one, then you'd have to convert. And then you'd have to choose how to convert, and where and with whom. If you went to an Orthodox community, you'd have to buy into a lot of really absurd ideas and follow a lot of ridiculous rules and be held to a higher standard than anyone else in the community - and then if you ever slip up you still run the risk of having some batch of a**-hats like the Chief Rabbinate of Israel either deciding you're not kosher enough for them or retroactively invalidating your Jewish status.



Yeah, apart from the Yeshiva bochrim that are just starting to understand the world after getting smicha and the ones who wear pig-hair hats and consider their religion the "only" Jewish religion this insanity is not an overriding cultural tenet.  To the orthodox their "rules" are consistent.  To the reform their rejection of orthodox rules is consistent.  Both (and everyone in between) have equal access to Torah and can determine their own religious direction for themselves.  Sectarianism in a non-exaggerated form is merely a dialect of religious expression.  It should NEVER become a determining factor in identity except when comparing to non-Jews.  To consider a person who knows Torah and follows it according to their communal traditions a non-Jew is to shit on the face of Moses and piss on the face of G-d IMHO.  Before Judaism there was Abraham.  Since our Jewish pedigree is marked by Abraham as the first Jew then the tenet ascribed to him must be primary - that being the bundle of sticks analogy.


Jul 16, 2012 -- 3:19PM, nieciedo wrote:

Maybe that doesn't matter if you're happy and comfortable in your community? Maybe! But then there's Israel, and then there's all the Jew-on-Jew infighting and its really annoying. Exhausting. And for what?



Israel is nothing more than a political experiment.  It is the battleground where secular idealism thrashes it out with religious idealism.  It is an example of neither.  It is just a State like every other and as such is roundly proscribed by Torah itself.  Dovid hamelech would have been personally ashamed of medinas yisroel for obvious reasons.  But I support it because there are Jews there - a majority of Jews in our ancient homeland.  But the traditions that make Israel Jewish are sorely lacking except in lipservice and political artifice alone.  Only when there is peace in the region - only when there is unity amidst diversity - only when there is a Holy Temple to the G-d of Peace will there be a true Jewish identity to Israel other than an accident of demographics maintained  by political artifice.


Bottom line is - you converted.  Your neshama is Jewish or you NEVER would have considered such an action.  If your family is treating you like crap, as mine did, then liberate yourself and go where your family treats you decently - even if you have to make your own family.  That's the difficult path of a free thinker - you can tolerate all and suffer the calumny of the ignorant.  I did it.  The path is also open to you.   The end is to be true to yourself.  With all your experiences in your life make your neshama to express itself as only you can.

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2 years ago  ::  Jul 20, 2012 - 5:39AM #48
river8101
Posts: 5,557

Jul 16, 2012 -- 3:19PM, nieciedo wrote:


River,


"Your experience is part of one of the great tensions of Jewishness: is it a "people" or a "religion?"


What difference does it make?  Anyway, it's not a great tension for us.  It does seem, however to be a great tension for you. 


"You can convert into it, but yet you are born into it, too, and you can totally not follow any of the laws or rules - you can even not believe in God! - and still you're counted as a member of the group."


So what?  We're not Catholics.  Anyway, many gentiles call themselves Christian, and they certainly don't follow any of the laws or rules of their church, or even believe in God.  Most of the German Nazis who followed Hitler were Christians.  Catholics and Protestants, and most didn't care what the Nazi's did to the Jews.  They followed their Church masters, not the preaching of Jesus.  Did Jesus tell you to kill and steal from Jews? 


"But if you do convert into it, then you had best believe or practice in exactly the right way or else you're not really part of the group, at least not according to some people."


According to "some people"?   Who are these "some people".  Obviously no one that I've ever met, but only those that You and the super dooper orthodox Jews know of.  I don't believe your "neshema" (if in fact such a thing exists) is still Jewish just because you converted. And, of course, the only Jews you seem to know are like the ones you discuss here, and dislike those who practice "exactly" the right way (in their opinion.)  Why not admit that you already knew "some" of those Jews before you converted, and accepted  their religious ways, but you obviously never went further than that, or looked around, and got to know, as friends, followers of other kinds of Judaism before you converted.  Judaism is not at all like Catholicism, one way, one king; one Pope, one belief and everyone else is on the wrong track.  NO!  


Your knowledge of most Jewish people seems very dim to me.  Yet, you seem to stick around here so you can keep blasting those damn Jews, their silly religion and their ridiculous Jewish state.  No one forced you to convert. Forcing people to convert is not a Jewish thing, it's a Christian thing!  You've already made your decision and your moved back, so now you're one of them again. Your posts on the Christian forum would tell any Jew that.   Why on earth are you still here beating a dead horse?   Say goodbye, nicely, (if you can), and leave us alone.  You can criticize Judaism and their beliefs or non beliefs in Jesus on the Christian forum everyday.   In fact, you already do.



“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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2 years ago  ::  Jul 20, 2012 - 6:55AM #49
river8101
Posts: 5,557

www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150254...


Tell me, would you believe a former Catholic who converted to Judaism would make Cholly as good as this?


Yum!

“Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject.”
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