My head is foggy today. Having trouble concentrating. Basically, I am meandering between thinking about work, the kids, politics, the Supreme court, New Orleans, and the upcoming trip to NY for Abigail’s Bat Mitzvah. Which makes me think of Rosh Hashana.
The thing I have trouble getting people to understand is how “Reformed” Judaism (the kind I was brought up with) focused almost entirely on the ethnic side of being a Jew. It is sort of like being Polish. If you meet someone who is Polish, you share an ethnic bond and makes you ‘compadres’. Same with being Jewish. You meet a Jew and you share that ethnic bond. Religion, however, has never played a large role in my upbringing. We always got together for the big holidays, but rarely ever went to Temple after the Bar Mitzvah season ended. The Bar Mitzvah had little or no religious significance to me, it was more of a coming of age thing and a group bonding exercise. Sort of like a wedding. However, I also think many people confused and blurred the line between religion and Ethnicity.
Personally, I do not like religion. I like spirituality and believe strongly in a higher power and that something happens after you die. Spirituality makes many things in the world easier to deal with. (Death, hardship, bad luck, etc) religion has been used for thousands of years to say, “We are great, but that other group, they are evil. Let’s kill em!”
Additionally, I have ‘shied away’ (maybe that is too tame of a phrase) from the Ethnic portion of Judaism as well. I consider myself an American and I like American traditions. Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, etc are the very things that make an American Ethnicity. If I were abroad, and I met an American, I would share the bond of being an American with them (for good and bad).
My identity is wrapped up in being an American and a Progressive (capital P). Those are the two things I think define my “group”. I do not think of myself as a Jew or of Polish-Russian descent. I don’t know if this is wrong, but it the way I feel.
The question becomes how to raise my children. I am certainly going to teach them the evils of Religion and the virtues of spirituality. Katie and I feel strongly about teaching them history and how nature works from a scientific point of view. The question is, “What if they want to join a cult?” or worse, “What if they want a Bar Mitzvah?” Cults at least have free room and board.
These questions do not have immediate and obvious answers. Katie and I are discovering the answers, one day at a time.