HomeCalendarFAQSearchRegisterLog in

Share | 
 

 The Five Jewish Questions

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
maculated

avatar

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 37
Location : San Luis Obispo, CA

PostSubject: The Five Jewish Questions   Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:50 am

I wanted to pull this out of the guy's conversion thread because I think I'm going to be a bit of a Debbie Downer on this, but I felt like my outlook should be represented, as well. And, heck, I'd welcome the discussion!

Mychal, I feel like your questions and sentiments hold up to the liberal branches of Judaism, but not necessarily to the current climate the many Orthodox converts experience.

1. Do you like to ask questions especially about religion? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t question it.

When I was in my conversion process via Orthodox teachings, I was NOT encouraged to question or get outside information. Born Jews are the same. Even beyond Orthodox, I find there are a lot of bitter people at my Conservative synagogue that feel like they were fed something as a child and are still battling with traditional expectations of Judaism. I also have begun to feel a bit of a tailspin about how much leeway, as an aspiring observant Jew, I have to make choices for myself. The dominant Hassidic thought is not to be in charge of that sort of thinking, but to follow your Rebbe, and I see it in Orthodox circles as well: what do the great ravs say? I must not think for myself on that, because I will be wrong.

I feel like I took the bait as a kid, but as I grew, I began to question it. And while I have found a home in Judaism, it's not an easy, shalom bayim, but more of one that still has me struggling and questioning.

2. The Trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child. You prayed to God the father more easily than Jesus, the son of God, even though you were told to pray to Jesus. You never could believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

There are a lot of teachings in Judaism that are also along these lines. Like, the only way that Kabbalah works (which many liberal followers of Judaism like to dabble in) is if the words in the Bible are literally the words of God, with no mistakes. If you get into Hassidic stuff, again, they seem to regard their Rebbes as Messiahs (and not just the Lubavitchers), just without assigning the title. There are plenty of mysteries in Judaism that you need to take on faith, the more deeply you learn about it.

3. On first learning of the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than your friends or other members of your family. You feel some sense of connection with the Jewish struggle to defend Israel.

Only if you're a zionist. I don't think you have to be a zionist and Jewish religiously. I recently watched a show on Hulu called The Promise that really illuminated some of the troubles of Israel for me, even if it was fictional. The truth it was based in bothers me, and always has, and I tell people that I don't know if it's my place to say whether Israel should exist as it does or not. I don't think that outlook discounts me, I think it makes me honest about the world. I'm not sure HaShem supports all of what's happening in Israel in his name by his people.

4. You have an attraction to Jewish people, or to Judaism and Jewish culture. You have always been more open to people who were culturally, nationally or religiously different from your own family, than your friends or class mates.

So, that's a bit true to me, but again, the culture aspect is muddy waters. My husband and I are one of only a few families in town that build sukkahs and keep kosher. Jewish culture seems a lot more to do with Jewish pride and making fun of Gefilte fish than creating a Jewish-oriented life for many. It's something my mother doesn't understand -- she thinks I've turned my back on my own culture, but ironically "my culture" to me looks like stuffed cabbage and playing the "who is famous" from the country you share as a culture - surface things that Jews do, too.

5. When you start to learn about Judaism: the ideas and values seem reasonable to you; the traditions and heritage are very attractive to you; and the non-Jews around you, and you yourself, are surprised that you slowly come to feel that you are coming home.

Until you become more and more learned, and I do think that there are a lot of battles you have to have with yourself. That's what baalei teshuva and converts fall off the wagon easily. They expect simplicity but born Jews have a more balanced sense of things we do because and things we really believe in. If you don't get to that deep learning, you may escape it.

A number of rabbis over the centuries have said that 1) every soul destined to be a Jew was at Sinai, whether in the flesh or in spirit-form; 2) converts are Jewish souls attempting to get back to their people; 3) that most (or even all) converts have a genetic Jewish ancestor, and that those ancestors will often reincarnate in their non-Jewish descendants in order to bring a part of the family line back to Judaism.

People abuse that Jewish soul thing to differentiate themselves from goyim so it can be scary. So long as you remind yourself that it's beautiful, but it doesn't set you at a higher level than your fellows, but more because it gives you a different purpose and set of obligations (in order to assist everyone), that's a good thing. Even that said, I struggle with my prayer books in Synagogue and at home because we only tend to pray for ourselves (the Jewish people) and not everyone . . . I think that's a throwback to this special Jewish spark.

Yup, I was a negative nelly in this thread, sorry. :) In all honesty, while I struggle with things like this and the more learning I do, the more hard it is to accept some of the things I've been spoon fed and wanted to be, I don't waver in my dedication to Judaism. I think I just see it a little differently than many. That toeing the line of many different types of Jews does it, I think. Had I been solely exposed to liberal Judaism at the outset and continued only being exposed to it, I would probably feel a lot differently. But I'm not. And it makes the challenge that much more engaging, I think. :)
Back to top Go down
http://www.about.me/kristin.mcnamara
Mychal

avatar

Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:20 pm

I don't think it's negative. You make a valid point; answers can vary across different Jewish branches. Having limited exposure to Orthodoxy (always via lectures presented by rabbis who are careful not to put down other branches), I can't see these questions they way you see them.

Although, some of your comments about Orthodoxy is part of the reason why I've never pursued it. Although, even within Orthodoxy, there are all sorts of shades of gray (urgh, can't even use that phrase without feeling dirty!). For instance, I read an Orthodox rabbi who was emphatic that you can't be Orthodox and drive to shul on Saturdays. And yet, there are cars parked outside my local Orthodox shul every Saturday.

When I asked about it (because a lot of people at my Conservative synagogue go over there to visit), they just kind of shrugged and said it couldn't be helped and that rabbi never made a fuss about it. See, the demographics of that community has changed, and it's now one of--if not THE--most expensive community in the city. It's no longer reasonable to expect people to live close enough to walk; they simply can't afford to buy or rent in that neighborhood. And I assume the money's not there to move the synagogue (which also means moving the people who DO live in that neighborhood... during a recession and housing bust). So some people either drive or take public transportation/taxi (which requires handling money).

One rabbi said that in every relationship, there is a period of romance/lust and then a period of love. When you're in the romance stage, you're giddy and emotional and every song and poem has meaning; your partner can do no wrong. Then the new wears off and you realize your partner farts and is a terrible housekeeper and then there was that party where s/he got drunk and threw up in your car on the way home. The flaws become glaring. But, if you learn to accept the flaws (for the record, I'm not talking about a person who cheats or is abusive; I'm talking about the basic imperfections we all have)--learn to accept that no one is ever going to be a perfect 10 (and you're not one either!)-- then you move into real love.

I think converts go through this process. First, there's the romantic love for Judaism and everything has meaning and Judaism is perfect and the Jewish people can do no wrong.

Then the flaws start to show. You hear about Haredim throwing stones at a little girl for dressing "immodestly." Maybe someone tells you, to your face, that you're not a "real" Jew. Maybe you overhear Jews condemning people as venomously as any hellfire-and-damnation preacher. Or you find out that while you can be a legal citizen of Israel, you will not be able to marry a Jew or be buried in a Jewish cemetery there because your conversion is not considered religiously valid; you will always be a second class citizen.

But, despite all of that, it's still possible to love Judaism and the Jewish people--just as I love my husband, even though he makes me mad because he won't clean up around the house.

I don't think we convert to Judaism so much as we marry into the religion and the tribe. And that comes with all the benefits and problems inherent in any marriage.
Back to top Go down
http://becomingjew.blog.com/
maculated

avatar

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 37
Location : San Luis Obispo, CA

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:34 pm

Beautiful.
Back to top Go down
http://www.about.me/kristin.mcnamara
mikedoyleblogger

avatar

Posts : 104
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 47
Location : Chicago, IL

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:01 pm

I was just thinking about that marriage today. It's a family--sometimes you feel really connected, sometimes you want to scream. But when you do want to scream, you remember you're a PART of the people some of whom might make you want to scream from time to time. It's not perfect, but it's home. What I love about Judaism is even when you feel like momentarily you or others don't belong, you do. That's what Peoplehood feels like, I guess :-)

As far as the "five questions," sometimes even for those raised in Christian families it's not as emotionally charged as that. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family, and went to parochial elementary school. For me it was just kind of a "meh" reaction. It just never connected, never had resonance or meaning. I didn't think the concept of the Trinity was hard to accept as much as the concept didn't even really register with me. Jesus and Mary and the saints just didn't elicit anything from me. Nothing emotional, nothing spiritual.

The Holocaust didn't have particular relevance for me, and I was raised in New York City, so everyone was kind of Jewish, culturally anyway, even if they weren't, since Judaism is so deeply embedded in the culture of NYC.

When I began my conversion journey, it wasn't so much a feeling of "That's why everything else felt wrong to me" as much as realizing something religious at all finally had any deep meaning at all to me. That was my clue that I was home. It felt as if God just couldn't get through on any other channel until I tuned to the Jewish channel, so to speak.
Back to top Go down
http://www.chicagocarless.com
mrenziboi



Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-05-01

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:54 pm

beautiful thread...i want to respond more but i am a lil drained from working far too much but i do want to say making sure an orthodox view is shared is important... i am not in the process of an orthodox conversion (i dont think i would be allowed) but i have many friends who were born orthodox and because of them i have found my self living a more observant life and have found their view or perspective among some of the most valuable in my life
Back to top Go down
Mychal

avatar

Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:56 am

Mike, you'd probably be amused by the fact that, when I was a kid, I thought that Mary was the third part of the Trinity. Mind you, I grew up Baptist, so we didn't talk about the Trinity much at all. I just vaguely knew of it, and I knew Catholics were really into Mary and the Trinity, so I assumed she was the third part.

To me (when I was 7 or Cool, it made perfect sense. God was God, Mary was human, and Jesus was half and half. And Mary was a woman, Jesus was a man, and God was neither/both. And Mary and God made Jesus. Talk about perfect balance and harmony! Talk about the Holy Family!

Then, when I said something to my mother one day about Mary and the Trinity, she looked kind of funny and said Mary wasn't part of the Trinity.

Well, then, why do Catholics worship her?

She didn't know, but Mary was definitely not part of the Trinity.

So what's the third part of the Trinity?

The Holy Spirit.

What's that?

God.

But we've already said God. God, God, and Jesus are a duality, not a trinity.

The Holy Spirit is a different part of God.

How can God have different parts? God is always God, isn't He?

Yeah, but it's still different.

How?

That's just the way it is.

And that was that.

I was existentially disappointed that Mary wasn't part of the Trinity. Suddenly the Trinity had no balance and didn't make any sense.

It was even worse when I learned that you're supposed to believe Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. What??? I've never been great at math, but even I know that's statistically impossible--not to mention philosophically impossible.

The only reason why I did so well in church for as long as I did is that no one bothered to tell me these things.

Of course, when I was a kid, I also used to think that nuns were married to monks. Yet another idea of harmony crushed! LOL
Back to top Go down
http://becomingjew.blog.com/
mikedoyleblogger

avatar

Posts : 104
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 47
Location : Chicago, IL

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:13 pm

Mychal, I should have probably added, in Catholic elementary school there were too classes I always failed. Penmanship, and religious doctrine. ;-)
Back to top Go down
http://www.chicagocarless.com
Mychal

avatar

Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:08 pm

Yeah, but I bet you at least knew who was in the Trinity, lol. And you probably knew that nuns weren't married to monks.
Back to top Go down
http://becomingjew.blog.com/
maculated

avatar

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 37
Location : San Luis Obispo, CA

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:20 pm

Catholics don't worship Mary. They venerate her. Like the saints. Like Jews do the sages and ravs.
Back to top Go down
http://www.about.me/kristin.mcnamara
Mychal

avatar

Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:32 pm

Well, yeah, I know that now, but as a 7 year old kid in a Baptist church (where there are NO images and you can't pray to anyone but God or Jesus), it looked to me like Mary was worshiped.
Back to top Go down
http://becomingjew.blog.com/
maculated

avatar

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 37
Location : San Luis Obispo, CA

PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:01 pm

Completely understand. I just have this niggling need to make sure people understand what's what in the faith I was raised in. I don't think it's wrong. I just didn't think it was right for me.
Back to top Go down
http://www.about.me/kristin.mcnamara
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: The Five Jewish Questions   

Back to top Go down
 
The Five Jewish Questions
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
 :: Jewish Fundamentals :: Conversion Discussion & Issues-
Jump to: