My mom often says that I must go to synagogue simply because I must show respect for the family. They say they want the family to be there as a whole (Parents + Sister + Me). How should I counter this?
You clearly don't understand reform Judaism. (That's okay, I don't expect you to.) Basically, the only thing in the torah we're taught to believe is 100% true is the existence of God in the first place. We're taught that the torah should be taken "seriously, not literally". :) Of course, when we're young, we're taught all the stories and stuff. But as we get older, we start to look at modern archaeology and what that says about the stories in the Bible.
Then again, the more orthodox your synagogue gets, the more literalist it gets as well. Chasidim believe every word from cover to cover, and in many ways, act like conservative Christians, proselytizing and such (which was a surprise to me when I went to Israel).
I was in this same position. Simply put, your only option is to dig your feet in and say no. I did this at the age of 16, and if anything, regret not being even more firm. To this day, my family and I are still on good terms because I didn't grow up hating them for draging me to temple.
Spanky I see your point, but I think Mom gets some MOM POINTS for doing all the MOM things that MOMS do. I'm sure she respects things too, like his taste in music, girls, his (probably somewhat- as all teenage boys have) goofy friends, on and on and on. I think Mom gets to carry on the tradition in her home, and since she isn't shoveling the Torah down anyone's throat, there really is no fight. Its just boring.
I like the argument that if your mom asks you to go, you go. That having been said, you can also add the 'poison pill' technique. That means that you go to synagogue and change things to suit your views. This 'poison pill' is oddly well-received in Jewish circles.
For reference - hujews.org is a youth group and also reference the parent organization www.shj.org
These organizations are secular jews and won't get you out of synagogue but can at least put a naturalistic spin on things to make the visit more palatable.
In the end, you're defering to your mother's wishes (which is a good thing) and when you get out of the house you can do your own thing.
It's ok to ignore that part. "poison pill" means to make a normally good option unpleasant. In this case, your parents might want you to be religious, but it won't be so nice when you choose to be religious in your own way.
You'll be a part of your family whether you go or not. Is she doing it because she's afraid of what other people might say to her? Is she saying these things out of fear? Tell her exactly why you don't attend synagogue. If it's out of personal conviction, you've got to do what's right. If going, to you, is going against your convictions, tell her this. Tell her that insisting you go because of the fear of what others might say is also against your personal convictions.
Does family mean you all must lie in order to appear a certain way to others? Is that your belief? Then go. If not, you can go, but it would be a lie.
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