Foggy thoughts

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.

4 Replies to “Foggy thoughts”

  1. You raise interesting points. I have never really thought of myself as really belonging to any group, as I see some errors in the broad believes that they impose. In general I see group affiliation as a weakness of character, especially when the group has leaders that believe and strategies that you are pseudo-forced to believe in. I guess my language binds me to others, but that is more for convenience. The group that I say is most part of me is my family (both living and dead). But in the words of a mighty philosopher, “I am what I am”. As for Molly, I expect that if Lindy and I provide her with a fulfilling life, then she will have little need to actively pursue any serious religious ideologies. If you look at the studies of the highest correlation between religion (or political affiliation) and any other factor, the highest correlation (by far) is that people believe in what their parents believed.

  2. Yes, Reform, not Reformed. It just goes to show, if I didn’t even know the word for the particular kind of judiasm, then it clearly wasn’t that important to those around me.

    Its not like Southern Methodists say, “Southern Method”. They know exactly what it is. Even the ones not paying attention.

  3. Actually, it was that important to those around you. We never used the term “Reformed”. We wanted to teach you a little of your heritage and like it or not, you are stuck with who you are. I love you no matter what. Yo Momma

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