Saturday, May 23, 2009

Judaism


I grew up Jewish Orthodox. It's probably the strictest most life encompassing religion ever followed. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes at night there is nothing you do without saying a blessing. There is even a blessing for when you go to the bathroom. 

I've often wondered how it became like that and I have a theory. While we live in Eretz Yisrael there was no reason for us to differentiate ourselves from others. There was no need to strive to keep our identity. Everyone was Jewish. Then the unthinkable happened and we were conquered and thrown off our land. The whole fabric of our existence was destroyed and a set of intricate ritulas and prayers and blessings were put in place to help remind us that we were indeed different.

As the years went by some strayed while others became more obstinate in their preservation of Judaism. Rules got stricter, rituals became more meaningful. Various communities developed their own minhagim (habits-ways of doin things) based on the constraints of the societies they lived in.

After two thousand years what we had was the most obstinate of the original Jews clinging to their identity with a maze of laws and rituals. 

Then we returned to our land.

Most Israeli's are secular. The majority do have a belief that god exists but they don't follow the religion. About 25% are non believers but still consider themselves Jews.

I got into an argument with several people about being able to be an atheist or agnostic and still be Jewish. After all, you can't be a Christian or Muslim of you don't believe in God. I had someone else tell me that she dated a Jewish guy once and felt alien. It was like everyone else belonged to this exclusive club and she didn't. I understand why she felt that way. After so many years of preserving our way of life there is an intangible bond between us. It has nothing to do with god it's genetics. Those of us who preserved our identity carry certain genes, traits that are unique to our "family". We can sense each other. It isn't "mystical" it's biological.

Regardless of what you believe you are Jewish if your mother was Jewish. We are in a sense a spread out collective that can't agree on anything. Being Jewish is a trip. I love it and wouldn't want to be anything else. But I can totally understand why other people don't get us.

11 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're writing like this. I didn't know you grew up Jewish...I look forward to more of your posts...

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  2. My boss was orthodox...........I learned a lot from him.....About all the rituals and culture. I found it fascinating...
    Though it did create some major complications for him in his personal life....One day I will share it in a post...It's a fascinating yet tragic story......
    I love the way that community take care of their own when they are in need....I have to say I was humbled and awed.....

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  3. This is very true blabby. When I left my ex the first thing I did was look for the Jewish community. They were my backbone. But that's because we are a "family". "kol yisrael arevim ze la ze" All of Israel are responsible for each other.

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  4. Yea I know but I didn't know that. Keep posting!!!

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  5. You never read my posts before? Didn't you know I grew up in Israel?

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  6. Oh Yes, I did read your posts when I first met you...I knew you grew up in Israel, but I didnt know your Jewish. I'm not too bright alot of times...

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  7. ANAV, this what I love about you. You are so honest.

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  8. Yea....all anyone has to do is be invited to a Jewish family get-together and the core of our people comes out every time!! ;-)

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Miri 1994-2009

Miri 1994-2009
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