Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homesick for Tradition

"It feels like Friday but it's only Wednesday," you tell the barista, explaining why it's been that kind of week, or why you seem the way you seem.

But the truth is, it smells like Sukkot outside and all you can think about is the way the moon used to look through the cracks in the bamboo roof and bundling yourself up in a coat while eating chicken soup slowly, spoonful by spoonful.

It's Sukkot again and you're not in the sukkah again and in your mind there's the glow of blue and yellow canvas from the kitchen window and the sound of voices in the backyard.

I wrote this while sitting in a coffee shop the first night of Sukkot this year. To me, it illustrates the way in which I have a tendency to equate Orthodox Jewish tradition with my childhood experience and the way in which I actually become homesick for it.

Granted, there is absolutely no reason why I couldn't have been sitting in a sukkah instead of a coffee shop that night, except that I wasn't listening to myself, to what I really wanted, and so I didn't make the appropriate plans or do the appropriate research.

Something about Sukkot brings it home more clearly than other holidays for me: how there is an essential component that is missing from my life that Orthodox Judaism once provided for me. I know I have to find a viable replacement and soon. I've had many suggestions of the Reconstructionist and/or Renewal branches of Judaism and I may just try one or both of those out soon to see how they do or don't fill that need.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jewish Agnostics

This article made me smile.

Some choice quotes:

Please don’t tell me that the survey allows people to “self-identify” as Jewish or agnostic, and thus isn’t actually imposing anything as much as letting respondents slide into whatever slot they freely choose. If I were lucky enough to have been asked to take their test (and I keep hoping someone will give me a test like that, but no one ever does), it would have been up to me to decide which is MORE true, that I’m Jewish or that I’m an atheist/agnostic
Jewish does not mean “those people who believe in (a Jewish) God.” If any religious definition pertains, it’s the old one: Jews are people who believe in one God AT MOST; or Jews are the people who don’t go to synagogue (as opposed to other people, who don’t go to church); or Jews are those people who have a mother who says she’s a Jew. Who are you, Pew Forum, to tell me that Jews aren’t (often, in sizable numbers, famously, proudly) atheists/agnostics? Or that atheists/agnostics aren’t (often, in sizable numbers, famously, proudly) Jews?