Well, I've been lurking around on this site for a while now, so I thought it was about time I joined and introduced myself.

I'm Miriam, a highschool student from England. I''ve been an atheist for around 1 1/2 years now, and it was actually a very sudden change. It also would not have been too difficult a transition for me, if not for the generally negative feedback. I come from a pretty religious Jewish background and know a grand total of 1 other atheist (and he's not a friend, just someone I vaguely know). All of my family and friends are religous, but I have been open from the beginning about my disbelief. However, it is still very much expected of me to continue to follow the Jewish laws and traditions as I was brought up to (eg going to synagogue, dressing according to Jewish law). This has proven to be quite frustating for me, especially since I am strongly opposed to certain laws and practices.

I am also often faced with strange misconceptions that people around me have about those who are not religious (bear in mind that many of them around my age are not close friends with even people who are in less religious sects of Judaism than Orthodoxy). Like the fact that I am an atheist must mean that I am some angry, rebellious tenager trying to get back at my parents. Or that I'm suddenly going to lose my sense of moral compass, and go around pushing old ladies down stairs, or murdering babies (well, not really, but you get the point)

I keep on holding on to the fact that I only have (hopefully) one more year of living at home, before I'll be going to university, where I'll be free to do as I wish. However, I am very much aware that even then, I will face a lot of family pressure to continue living as my parents would wish, whichis quite daunting. I always feel terribly guilty when I'm disappointing somene, even though I know rationally that I cannot spend the rest of my life trying to please my parents.

Anyway, now I'll stop rambling, and come to my main point; it's really nice for once to be around people who actually understand me.
It's nice to meet you all :)

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There are many cultural Jews - people who observe the rituals and practices of the Jewish religion without buying into the supernatural aspects of it. They see it as an important link with their heritage. This 'mindset' may help you while you are still dependent on your parents. Your parents may also appreciate that by accepting your culture you're not throwing the baby out with the bathwater - or in this case, not throwing the bathwater out with the deity. ;-)

Here's some info on Humanistic Judaism which I think might suit you well.
Thanks for the reply :)

At the moment, I do feel quite resentful towards Judaism, so it's quite difficult for me to think of ever voluntarily continuing to adhere to Jewish law. I do think that mabe in the future, when I'm more seperate from Judaism, I'll make peace with it a little, so be may be more likely to want it to be a part of my life. At the moment, it's basically taking over my life, so my instinct is to run away from it as far as possible, if that makes sense.
I just wanted to say hello! Although my situation is very different from yours I am also very happy that I found this site. In RL I only know 3 atheists and they are not 'out' either. It is nice to have a place where I can share my ideas, opinions or jokes and not worry that I will cause a huge fuss. I've only been a member for a few days but I've already met a few cool people and read a lot of helpful comments.

I hate to sound like a greeting card, but... Your love and respect for your family and (most importantly) yourself will get you through the tough times. You sound like a smart and rational person, I'm sure you will make your parents proud despite choosing a different path than the one they expected you to follow. :o)
Hello and welcome,
I come from a really devout Catholic family background, and while my parents were disappointed that I "lost the faith", there was still a lot of love and respect. Although I find a lot about Catholicism objectionable, there would be no point arguing the toss with my parents about it, so we just got on with being a loving family. I would occasionally -very occasionally - go to mass with them (weddings, christmas etc) but always on my part it would be to show family solidarity rather than religious affiliation. Sadly, my Dad died earlier this month. It was a very religious funeral. I carried the coffin and even, at mum's request, took "holy" communion. I don't feel I had to compromise my beliefs, but as Kristy has said, you can reject the doctrine without turning your back on all the heritage.
I'm sure in time you will increasingly meet like-minded people and there will be a lot of mutual support, but hopefully you can continue to enjoy your close family relationships too.
I know, and obviously I try as much as possible to avoid conflict about it, but it can be frustrating as I feel like sometimes what is expected of me isn't really reasonable. Judaism is quite different from Christianity, in that it often feels like it's not what you believe that matters, but what you do, as there are literally hundreds of thousands of laws covering every aspect of your life, so it's very demanding, and does tend to take over every part of your life (I have found).
I do try as much as possible though to just get along with oing what I'm supposed to, whilst gritting my teeth :). Of course, I would want as much as possible to retain my relationship with my parents (and siblings). I woud hate to fall out over it all.
I really appreciate you sharing your experiences.

I'm glad you've broken free from the prison created by the mind virus of religion.

About your parents: Don't live to please everyone. You should live for yourself. If your family won't respect you, then you are under no obligation to respect them.

Conversely, if you feel good for helping others and making them proud, you should find an outlet for that.

Personally, I go to kiva.com and make loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. I am a member of the atheist team. Currently we are in first place above the christian team.
Easier said than done....
Obviously, I know that I cant live my life for them, but it;s difficult to break away from that, as it's very much a part of my personlity to try and please everyone. I anyway feel that no'w, as I live under their roof etc I should show some respect by dong what they feel I should. When I live away from home, it will be a different story (though I anticipate that they will still find this extremely hard to accept; they are used to me being the obedient daughter :) )

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