Jewish Atheists

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Comment by Leila Cook on November 12, 2012 at 4:02pm

I have to agree with Natalie here.  My husband is circumcised and has no issue, nor do a good deal of the men I know who are.  Being atheist or agnostic doesn't give us a license to decide that our opinions are always the right ones and that everyone else must be ignorant morons, lol.  If we are going to be militant about our ideas then we are no better than religious fundamentalists who are immoveable on their superstitions. 

Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 12, 2012 at 3:49pm

Not property, but it's well-established that parents have the right to raise their children as they wish, provided they don't do things that will kill them or severely hurt them, like causing fractures. There IS freedom of religion in this country, even if you don't agree with others practicing what they believe. Circumcision is even sometimes done for medical reasons. There is no evidence that it is harmful. If you don't want it done to your son, don't do it. Just like abortion. If you don't agree with it, don't do it. I am NOT a militant atheist, and not invested in converting anyone to my way of thought, and not interested in arguing any further.

Comment by ɟǝןıx dǝʇɹɐɹ on November 12, 2012 at 3:12pm
You are talking like that kid is the property of his parents. Well, with a property you can do whatever you want, you can circumcise it, you can cut its penis completely or even kill it. It is YOURS. I wonder though from what age the kid should stop being your property? 7? 18? 21? Never?
Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 12, 2012 at 1:51pm

Michael, I sense a bit of overreaction here. And it sounds like YOU are the one suffering massive damage and harm, psychologically. I'm pretty sure that MOST circumcised men don't give it as much thought and emotion as you are doing. It sounds like you feel tremendously hurt, and can't get over it, and are pouring your feelings out on other people's decisions. It's your BROTHER'S child, not yours, and you really have no right to question his and his wife's decision.

Of course, I don't know what it feels like to have a penis at all, but it sort of reminds me of the abortion debates. When I got pregnant at a very bad time financially and emotionally, it was after Roe vs. Wade, so I had the choice whether to abort or not. Even though my mother's first reaction was "Get rid of it!" I CHOSE not to abort, because to me, it was already a baby. And I will forever be glad I had a CHOICE -- some women choose to abort pregnancies and some don't. And if you look at it in a serious way, abortion harms everyone involved, but the harm of abortion may be less than carrying the pregnancy. Or not.

So, while I sympathize with your strong feelings (and think you should do some serious talking with a counselor about it), I don't think you have the right to dictate to anyone else what to do. There IS room for differences of opinions here.

Comment by Michael Pianko on November 12, 2012 at 11:12am

No, my brother's intent is doing massive damage and harm to their son. Much worse than merely brainwashing your kid into a religion without circumcising.

Comment by Alan Perlman on November 11, 2012 at 6:06pm

It's smorgasbord Judaism - pick and choose what you want to observe.  My Mom, now 95, raised hell at my first, interfaith marriage, then backed off from my brother's.  According to her Jewish-womb ideology, none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren are Jewish because of my brother's gentile wife.  But she doesn't think about that, and I don't remind her.  Belle (Mom) will die with her illuisions intact. 

Her old-country, Yiddish-accent parents did the Orthodox lip-service but weren't terribly strict about kosher. 

I've become a total Christmas cynic. Once a year the goyim celebrate their founding myth (or not), shop themselves to death (gets earlier every year), practice for a day or two the virtues that they should be practicing every day...and attend mandatory excruciating office Christmas parties (I had two each year).  To all the offenses of Christmas excess, I add an exorbitant waste of energy in elaborate lighting displays. 

Have you heard of Festivus, the humanist winter holiday?  I've been to a couple of parties - a chance for us to make fun of Christmas.

Comment by Alan Perlman on November 9, 2012 at 9:46pm

Natalie...More to come.  For now, see one of my posts on Christmas: 

Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 9, 2012 at 12:08pm

Jews, like Christians come in a vast range of beliefs and practices, although I don't think even a Satmar ultra-Orthodox believer would deny that a person born of a Jewish mother is Jewish. They just frown on our sinful ways! :-) My grandparents were Orthodox, but not that far on the ultra fringe -- they kept kosher, and my grandfather wore tzitzit, but they didn't hesitate to eat at our house, and my mother was definitely NOT kosher. Of course, she didn't serve them non-kosher style meals -- no cheeseburgers, but we had Pesach at our house every year, and my mother did not separate dishes and we didn't do the search for chametz -- there was still bread in the bread drawer.

And I don't mind if the Orthodox go their own way, as long as they don't bother ME (And that goes for Christians, too!).

And it makes me feel good to know there is another person who is delighted NOT to be a part of Christmas -- I wish the atheistic community were more open to that idea. Sometimes I feel scorned, even here, for not wanting to celebrate even token Christian events like Christmas and Easter. I know it has sentimental value to them, but not to me! And I'm looking forward to your reposts! :-)

Comment by Alan Perlman on November 9, 2012 at 10:44am

For sure, even the most atheistic Jews (unless they're from Utah) feel an attachment to their culture and history, all aspects of it.  A few years ago, a whole issue of the SHJ's magazine was devoted to "Jewish humor" -- there definitely is such a thing.

But I don't underestimate the differences with religious believers, who simply do not consider people like us Jewish.  As for food, a truly observant Jew would never set foot in a "New York-style" deli -- not kosher.

I've done several blog posts on Christmas and will repost them, edited, as another Happy Season arrives.  I've gone from "jealous at not being a part of it" to "delighted not to be a part of it."

Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 8, 2012 at 9:08pm

Thanks, Alan. When I have more spare time, I will check out Rabbi Wine. I checked out the Society for Humanistic Judaism, but their membership fees were too expensive for me.

I have no illusions about Judaism's "specialness"; I just feel attached to my own people just as all ethnic groups do. I don't think we are any more nor any less than any other ethnic group, but we ARE an ethnic group, and deserve to enjoy the uniqueness of our own culture.  I love Yiddishisms -- named my latest cat Momzer, because he IS one. I love Jewish food, especially New York bagels, and I treasure the memories of Pesach, when I would come home from school to the heavenly smells of my 3 aunts, my mother and my grandmother cooking in the kitchen and all talking and enjoying themselves. I used to hang out with them in the kitchen, just listening to the chatter.

If Italians and Japanese, and Hispanics, and Irish, and African Americans can revel in their cultures, I want ours to be just as worth enjoyment and pleasure, and I don't want to have to hide the fact that I am Jewish. With the Christmas season coming up, which has ALWAYS been uncomfortable to me, it assumes even more importance. I resent the badge that I saw on Facebook that said "It's OK to say Merry Christmas!" as if anyone were denying people that right. But I still feel that Happy Holidays is FAR more inclusive, and I don't really WANT to be wished a Merry Christmas. I just plain don't like the holiday. It has no pleasurable associations for me, and it bothers me when atheists say they celebrate it, without acknowledging that no matter what they do, they're celebrating a religious holiday, be it Christian or Pagan. Paganism is real -- never totally died out, and it is religious beyond any shadow of a doubt. 

Anyway, that was a bit of a rant, and there are plenty of things I believe that are not popular, but I WILL read your blog, soon! :-)


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