Culturally Jewish but Agnostic?
Who here considers themselves still tied to their culture as a Jew — perhaps even pro Israel or even Zionist — but is also agnostic?
I put myself in that camp. How do you reconcile it? I see that there is a distinct separation from the religious aspects of Jewish life from the cultural.
And happy Passover. I’m going out for sushi. This will be my Seder plate.
Palestinians engulf a multitude of different cultures including Jews. I wrote a reply article for a newspaper about how confusing it is in Israel and the surrouding areas. Most of the fighting is over the small area of land (Gaza) on the ocean because of trade/import/exports. So who are Palestinians? They "are an ethnonational group comprising the modern descendants of the peoples who have lived in Palestine over the centuries, including Jews and Samaritans, and who today are largely culturally and linguistically Arab." [en.wikipedia.org] What Israel means to so many other religious groups is amazing. That's where Jesus supposedly lived, was born and died. So it's a highly prized piece of land-most sought after- but the Jews need a country and so it goes.
I no longer feel bound by my Jewish heritage. I like to ally myself with members of my tribe, i.e., those who share my atheism, progressive values, and rationalism. As a non-Zionist, I cannot feel close to Israel as a Jewish nation. They can't be both Jewish and democratic. It's impossible. And a theocracy? Those are anathema to me. The rituals will always feel familiar, but I no longer follow them. The food? A lot of it is of Eastern European origin, and unhealthful.
Happy Pesach! Oy gevalt, such a loaded relationship I have with my Jewish ancestry. My Jewish great grandparents were killed in the shoah and I DO have a yen to address this. Complicated topic, but, I think I understand Zionism and believe there's a place in this world for Israel (with recognition that this doesn't dismiss the rights of the Palestinians). I also enjoy discussion and argument so you will read me railing against antisemitism when I run across it, interjecting posts with my views. But, that's the extent of my Jewishness. Day to day, I am an American who is a nonbeliever. Holidays go by and I watch them go. I am 1/2 Jewish, one of 5 kids and the most mainstream of them all...2 sisters married Jewish guys and raised their kids Jewish, my brother wanted to be a rabbi. The 5 of us were raised in a Jewish community, exposed to the full range of Judaism and whatever lessons my dad culled together about being Spartan (and German). But, my dad was a flaming Atheist and my mom a cultural Jew and a Zionist. So, to me, religion never really entered my world. I somehow was more in tune to the spiritual side of life, rather than the religious. My son, surprisingly, happily, is engaged to a 1/2 Jewish young lady, culturally Jewish, and I admit, there is a nice symmetry with their union.
Thank you so much for opening up this discussion. I hope you'll continue to post as you work to reconcile your conflicting [beliefs]...but, do they really need to conflict? My niece (not one of those raised Jewish), when asked about her beliefs by a friend's mother said 'oh, Jews don't believe in God!' She was young, but, I think this is somewhat common internal conflict for Jews. But, why? It's an ancient religion. Can't one continue to observe for the sake of ones ancestors, tradition, other reasons than belief in God? I don't have your connection to Judaism and hope you don't take my questions as dismissive of your struggles. I watched my mom agonize over marrying a non-Jew even after 5 kids!
I am hosting the Seder tonight. However, all participants are aware they will be in for a running commentary on history, evidence, and rational conclusions. You could say it's a Seder for the advancement of atheism and rational thought.
Yes, in a superficial way, I carry the baggage of history, but use it for constructive purposes.
By the way, @jperlow -- love the Seder plate.
I believe in reincarnation it explains SO many things in life it's uncanny. That being said, I was raised by a pantheist and atheist supposedly Jewish. My grandparents put on all the holidays so I know for a FACT chicken soup cures colds and a lot of other stuff too.
I wear my grandfathers Star of David because thousands of Jews (&others) died for being Jewish- I'm honoring their memory and reminding myself at the same time how fast the current ideologies shift. How did an entire country suddenly condemn Jews on one man's ideology? How does something that screwed up happen? Well ask Trump about Mexicans or Muslims and thank dog his SIL Jared & Ivanka are Jewish or he'd be slinging crap on us as well.
I was engaged to a brilliant man, a Sabra, who told me the only way his parents would accept our marriage was for me to convert. Even though they were all atheists, it was important to preserve the heritage. I actually began that process (feeling like a terribly deceitful person, being an atheist & all...) I understood how they clung to something so ancient and so important to their identity. I also remember telling the rabbi that I WAS going to cheat and eat lobster!