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Started by jlaz Jun 2.
Started by Diana D. Last reply by Alan Perlman Apr 15.
Started by Cecilia. Last reply by Michael Pianko Mar 20.
Look, its not that I want to be offensive, but if you are going to do Jewish culture then at least admit that inthe past there was no distinction between religion and culture, and you could still do Jewish culture while being intact, and in case I have a son I should not be allowed to make a decision about circumcision because nobody should be allowed to make a decision about circumcision because the decision should not exist because circumcision should not exist, for the same reason nobody makes decisions about hurting other parts of your kids bodies (because we are only taught to circumcise, not do other abuse). No, I don't specifically think our ancestors or the ancient Jews were better or worse than various other cultures - the chinese did food binding to their daughters and in Mesoamerica they strapped heavy boards to their kids' heads until the age of 4 heads so the heads would be longer in width than the normal shape, different tribes give their members various tattoos or piercings or put sticks of wood through their faces or lips, and yes, a few other tribes do hurt their son or daughters organs also. My worldview was that one of the two following possibilities is true and not both:
1. There is a god, therefore it is necessary to do every detail orthodox Judaism says you have to do, or
2. there is no god, so I'm free to not do anything Jewish.
But I'm tired of my mom, every so often, telling me I might want to go to some Jewish young adult events, and I'm tired of feeling guilty about the possibility of not doing Jewish stuff. Most Jewish men don't know about circumcision or don't want to care, and nobody wants to feel bad about himself for having reduced sex organs. The thing is, most religions do not want you to have that much of a relationship with another person. Most religions want you to take all the romance you would have devoted to another person and devote it towards HaShem or whatever other god. Judaism has the so called family purity laws I thought I was going to have to put up with. I'm not sure what the punishment for ejaculating in Ancient Israel was but I'll find out. Judaism hurt me (because I'm one of the few Jewish men who stepped really far outside the bubble of Judaism and realized what Iam missing). Most of Yiddish culture or modern secular Jewish culture doesn't matter, so for all it matters you could do any of it. That part of Judaism didn't hurt me. The circumcision is the main thing I want eliminated since thats mainly the thing about Judaism that hurt me most.
In reply to commments/questions on Humanistic Judaism: Yes, it did enable me to maintain Jewish identity without believing BS. Rabbi Wine insisted on using as examples "real Jews in real time," not Biblical figures. He and his followers reinterpreted each holiday to purge it of divine involvement. Services: subject matter consisted of statements/reflections around a certain theme, plus music (secular Jewish/Hebrew). Then they backslid. His successor never even acknowledged receiving my book. I think I know why. They're back to the old stories and midrash, a word Rabbi Wine never used. And I've moved on, from religious humanist to secular humanist (terminology from Sam Harris).
PS. to Prog Rock Girl: Yes, they are too smart, but social pressure makes them show up at High Holidays, perfumed and dressed to the nines, to see and be seen, and to mutually pretend. Turn off reason and yield to groupthink. And the davening can be very restful...
Comment on Jewishness: I think that if we can document the proposition that circumcision undermines human well-being (back to sex again) and if medical reasons are bogus, then the truth should be told, and parents would have more of a choice. In reality, this is a deeply-ingrained custom that most Jews wouldn't ever abandon (wasn't Luke uncircumcised?). See Genesis Ch. 19.
Christianity didn't require circumcision - major selling point.
To fellow linguists: IMO, there's still some mystery about exactly who wrote the Torah and when. There could have been four authors...or multiple authors, all writing in the style of one of what appear to be the four authors. But apparently there were four documents edited into one.
Welcome, Steph and Prog Rock Girl.
Natalie...I agree completely. The Tanakh is worthy of anthropological, linguistic, and other scientific forms of inquiry. I'm not that interested in it.
There is a clear bright line between this and regarding the Torah as an actual historical accounting...and, further, acknowledging divine power, both then and now. A line I will never cross.
Where I thought you were going with Leviticus....is that it's also full of ancient directives, many rules and regs, harsh punishments. Priestly stuff. To modern people, mostly laughable. A few commonsense rules (don't make a harlot of your daughter).
Michael, I really don't follow your reasoning. If people can identify of being Irish, or Polish, or Chinese, why can't I identify as being Jewish? It's my heritage. I value it. I have absolutely NO guilt about not following religious customs, but I can and do enjoy the holidays as a reason to get together and feel like I'm with family (we all ARE family -- no Ashkenazi Jew is more than a 4th or 5th cousin away), just the same as former Christians enjoy celebrating Christmas. They excuse it as being a pagan holiday -- but if they AREN'T pagans, I find that rather hypocritical. But getting back on topic, I see no reason not to enjoy my roots and my mythology and my history -- everyone else is allowed to do that, so why can't I? And as far as Torah, if you think it's just mythology, you haven't read Leviticus. The Torah and the rest of the Tanach include documentation of the way an ancient culture lived and believed, and studying it is just as anthropologically valid as studying the culture of any other people. I don't see any reason to be hostile to the Jewish writings or historical practice, because it's just another culture. The fact that I don't accept the beliefs about divinity means no more and no less than the fact that I don't accept Christian or Muslim or Japanese beliefs, either. I just get tired of the singling out of Jews and Judaism as so much worse than other ancient and not-so-ancient cultures -- beliefs that the ancient Jews were genocidal because as the victors, they wrote about their victories in their own idiom, (the defeated don't write history). I get tired of rants about "Abrahamic religions" or Judeo-Christian morals, when the rants are really about Christianity, because these people know nothing about Judaism.
As an Ashkenazi Jew, I do separate Judaism and Jewishness (or Yiddishkeit) and while I really don't believe in god, I do value my Jewish heritage. And after I die, no it will not matter, but I'm not concerned about that -- I'm concerned about living my life as pleasantly as I can.
I'm interested in learning!
Alan: Welcome. While not a linguist I have a pretty solid background in rabbinic literature and yiddish simply based on knowing the culture I came from. I was raised being told that the Orthodox believe the torah was written by god, the Conservatives that it was dictated by god, and the Reform that it has some good ideas in it. I guess my perspective as a secular Jew is that it's a solid piece of fiction that can be utilized from an anthropological standpoint. I learned that a lot of rabbinic laws were drashed out after the Jews lost the right to govern themselves so they were never a binding legal code, just a set of exaggerated statements meant to instill values. There are books of laws that people can be sentenced to death for that were never carried out. Until perhaps now when people take them as Truth and not in historical context. Just another reason why studying religion can be important even to the non-religious.
Michael: It's always nice to see that even in a safe place people can still come in on the offensive.
Seriously, please don't come on and define how people are Jewish or not. That's just as bad as the christians claiming no one can truly be an atheist. As a completely secular, cultural jew who comes from a practicing background I can tell you that guilt has absolutely nothing to do with my identification.
And as for nothing ever mattering: why does that apply to someone's cultural identity and not your son's circumcision? Why are the things you care about special cases and everything else is moot? If you want to take the nihilistic long view and say that nothing will matter in the long term then there's nothing so heinous that humans can do that won't be lost to the universe in billions of years. If you do believe that then circumcising your son should be fine. If you don't then tone down the hyperbole a bit.
Really I think most Jews now are too smart to really believe in the Jewish religion.
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