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Jewish culture

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by Me Myself, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    I agree that calling oneself a scientist or engineer is not something that should be done frivolously. These are highly trained and qualified individuals and one cannot just decide to become part of these groups.

    On the other hand, what exactly is the problem with someone deciding they want to become a Jew ? I for one, will be the first to welcome them to the tribe.

    Also, I am interested in Buddhist philosophy. No Buddhist has ever told me that I need to know a lot about Buddhist food, art and philosophy to associate with Buddhism. It seems Buddhists may be more welcoming than Jews.


    Do you think you are being a little bit judgmental here ? I don't question that you are a Jewish Guardian of Life.


    So what litmus test do you propose for someone to identify as a Jew ? Hamentaschen ? Expert in Torah ? Talmud ? Circumscism ?

    I agree. I think Levite is a gentleman and a scholar. I notice he has not been posting here the last few days, and I hope it has nothing to do with any of my comments (hopefully he is just relaxing and studying during Shabbos). If I did say anything to him that was perceived as rude, I would like to apologize.

    This sounds like some kind of court action to determine if someone can associate with Judaism !!
     
    #61 Avi1001, Dec 7, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  2. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    It's more than a little hard to tell whether the question is grossly disingenuous or pathetically ignorant. Who the hell said anything about there being "problem with someone deciding they want to become a Jew"? But wanting to be a Jew typically involves a good deal more than wanting to enjoy some hamantaschen on Diwali. Based on what you've said to-date, your "Open Tent is indistinguishable from an "Empty Lot".
     
  3. CMike

    CMike Well-Known Member

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  4. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    Thanks, CMike, I enjoyed that cultural Jewish experience. There is nothing like a pastrami on rye with spicy mustard and a potato knish at the Stage Deli on Orchard Lake Rd., is there ? You fresser.
     
    #64 Avi1001, Dec 7, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  5. CMike

    CMike Well-Known Member

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    No there isn't.

    Also, bagels cream cheese and lox,:rainbow1: although sadly because of carbs I can't have bagels anymore.
     
  6. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    Come on, CMike, we all need to have some fun once in a while. Add some lettuce and tomato to the bagel with schmear and lox and you have a healthy snack :).
     
  7. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    I believe you have mistaken "having standards" for "drivel."

    Your definition of Judaism, therefore, is utterly meaningless. Everything needs some boundaries to exist as a defined phenomenon. If we applied your standards to cells, they would have no cell walls. If we applied them to people, they would have no skin. Your definition of Judaism leaves no room for either a Jewish People or Covenant, only an amorphous blob of whatever section of humanity has the whim to call itself Jewish on any given day.

    Non-Jews are non-Jews. They are not cultural Jews because they are not Jews. To change that, they need to convert; otherwise, they remain non-Jews. The notion that someone could become part of a culture just by picking up a snack nominally of someone else's cuisine is ludicrous. I love samosas, that doesn't make me either Indian or Hindu; and it would be breathtakingly insulting to both Indian culture and Hindu tradition for me to insinuate that it could do so.

    It is so incredibly reductive and contemptuous of Jewish peoplehood and tradition-- to say nothing of Jewish law-- to say that anyone who says they are Jewish is Jewish, that I am truly hard pressed to think of anything more offensive that a Jew has said in this DIR.

    My standard of who is a Jew has never changed: it is the halachic standard. If your mother is Jewish, or if you were properly converted according to the halachah, you're Jewish, whether you are knowledgeable, faithful, and observant, or ignorant, completely secular, and atheistic-- or any combination of those things. The halachah is the only minimum standard for Jewish identity that I hold. But this thread wasn't supposed to be about a question of Jewish identity, it's about the labels given to or taken by Jews.

    What I fail to understand is why a Jew who is completely secular, completely uninvolved in Jewish observance and life, and basically completely ignorant of Jewish culture (history, art, literature, music, Hebrew language or Yiddish or Ladino, customs, tradition, etc.) should be considered a "cultural Jew," rather than simply an assimilated and uneducated Jew.
     
  8. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Good try. I think you have mistaken rank cultural chauvinism with "having standards."
     
  9. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    I really fail to see how it is cultural chauvinism to expect that if someone claims the mantle of culture, that they actually be cultured.

    Ignorance is, ultimately, voluntary, as is disengagement: if people choose to embrace them, that may be their prerogative; but if they do so, it seems only fair that they lose the right to claim that they are either knowledgeable about or engaged with their culture and tradition.
     
  10. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    We are talking about "cultural Jews" as people who wish to associate with Judaism. They might be friends or spouses of Jews or just people interested in Judaism. If they wish to describe themselves as "cultural Jews", I am glad that they wish to make that association. I am pleased to welcome them into Judaism.

    Cultural Judaism does not require conversion. And it is up to the cultural Jew, not you. I am a student of Buddhist philosophy. If I wish to consider myself a cultural Buddhist, I do not need your approval to do so.

    I am sorry to hear that you find my words offensive. There is no contempt intended.

    But I do not understand why you find it offensive that I would want to encourage anyone who is attracted to Judaism to participate in it. I am getting the feeling that you, as a Rabbi, wants to be in charge of who considers themselves a Jew. Is that really what the issue is, Rabbinic authority over conversion ? It seems like you are making a utilitarian argument for Rabbinic authority.
     
    #70 Avi1001, Dec 8, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  11. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Good-- more for me!:woohoo:
     
  12. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    With Motown's bankruptcy moving forward, the most profitable company left in Detroit might be Einstein Bagels. Do you think they will take over the Big 3 (Big 2 with Chrysler finished) ? By the way, is this the kind of conversation that cultural Jews might have ? :)
     
  13. TheKnight

    TheKnight Guardian of Life

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    No one has said anything about having a problem with someone wanting to become a Jew. Merely that Jewishness necessarily entails something that distinguishes an individual from that which is not Jewish.

    Not at all. I value words, their meanings and their applications. In order to use words in any way that makes sense they must be limited to certain concept/ideas. Your free use of the word "Jew" seems to eliminate any sort of distinction between that which is Jewish and that which is not.

    I would propose that for someone to identify as a Jew they must have a Jewish identity.

    Defining yourself as something you're not devalues the thing you wish to be. If someone wants to be involved with Judaism, no one in this thread has said anything to indicate that such a person should be prevented from doing so, or mistreated for wanting to do so.

    What's been contested is the accuracy of a person's use of a term to define themselves when the definition would be seemingly inaccurate.
     
  14. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    Who decides, you or them ? It seems you think you are The Knight and The Judge.


    The first step is always deciding someone doesn't belong in the club. The second step is kicking them out.
     
  15. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Then you are inventing your own meaning for what cultural Judaism refers to. It has consistently been used by Jews to refer to secular Jews who, despite their disinterest in religious observance, nonetheless wish to express their connectedness to Jewish culture. It has not, as far as I know, ever been used to describe Judaeophilic non-Jews.

    If people are attracted to Judaism and want to study it, wonderful. I encourage that wholeheartedly, and have gladly helped many non-Jews study our texts, traditions, and culture. And if their interest moves them to want to convert, wonderful, I wish them well, and will gladly welcome them to the Jewish People, and consider us all the better for having them.

    But it is certainly offensive when non-Jews call themselves Jews. Especially if their Jewish expression is little more than bagels and Woody Allen movies.

    If I called myself a Mexican just because I got a burrito at Chipotle, I would hope and expect that any actual Mexicans who got wind of it would be absolutely incensed at my complete lack of respect and comprehension of their culture. I fail to see why we do not have a similar right.

    Who is and is not a Jew is not up to me, or any other individual rabbi. It is a matter of halachah. And we haven't been discussing conversions. Unless you now want to call eating a bagel with lox a conversion.

    My initial remarks had nothing to do with non-Jews. The OP asked about cultural Jews. I responded with remarks about how I perceived cultural Jews. It is you who brought in the completely foreign idea that anyone who decides Jews are swell can suddenly count themselves a cultural Jew.
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Too true. Too true. Those uscrubbed, uncultured Jews are such an embarrassment to real Jews such as you who …
    Maybe if we just ignore them they'll go back to Yemen or the Pale of Settlement where they belong. After all, we have our standards to maintain.
     
  17. Avi1001

    Avi1001 reform Jew humanist liberal feminist entrepreneur

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    Actually, I think it was another poster who brought up the example of a Hindu women eating a hamentaschen, not I.

    But it was a useful example, because it led to lots of interesting discussion.
     
    #77 Avi1001, Dec 8, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  18. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Actually, what you said is …
    … a lovely example of vacant tent Judaism.
     
  19. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    And, again, you are describing communities of Jews living deeply Jewish lives. They have nothing to do with the cultural Jews of today in America.
     
  20. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    How nice to know that one can live a deeply Jewish life without being "steeped in Jewish literature (including traditional text), art, and music, are thoroughly grounded in Jewish history, and have a nuanced and diverse sense of Jewish cultures, &#8230;" and still (in the right time and place) meet your strict standards.
     
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