For a long time I have struggled to come to terms with the way certain groups of Jews disassociate themselves with each-other, how they can be rude, abusive, and even refuse to talk to one another. Certain people will make judgements upon people because of the synagogue they belong to, what they observe, or even simply how we look.
A key word to my issues was written in Bold above. MEMBERS. Whether you are classed as United, Reform, or Don’t even belong to a Synagogue, YOU ARE ALL JEWISH. Yet some Jews won’t let you believe it.
History not so long ago outlined some of the less positive things about belonging to such a religion – but Hitler didn’t care what type of Jew you were; religious, non-religious half Jewish, a quarter Jewish – To the general outside world if you are Jewish, YOU ARE JEWISH, no matter what ‘internal denomination’ you are. To the average non-Jewish John Smith – Dan Cohen who goes to a Liberal Shul or a reform shul, or a united shul or a federation shul, or any shul, or doesn’t go to shul, is as Jewish as The Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue.
SO WHY CAN’T WE ALL PLAY HAPPY RELIGIOUS FAMILIES?!
The Jewish people love playing happy family – Friday night dinner is a prime example, and any other festival time also… but why can’t we all get along?
The United synagogue will say that the Reform and Liberal aren’t considered as synagogues, and that they basically aren’t Jewish. The Reform and Liberal (from personal experience) will be more inviting to the more religious, and say the things they do are old and not relevant to modern life so they have updated the Religious ways to be relevant – NOTE: I’m talking about a member of the shul, not the shul organisation officially!!
But how does this work in modern life? To explain to someone what it is to be Jewish, and ‘how religious you are’ is complicated. Take an example of my place of work. We discussed Religion and my religion came up – I belong to a Reform Shul, go as often as I can, ( I aim to try for once a month) I try to keep Kosher as much as possible (I don’t really keep milk and meat, but I WILL NOT eat non kosher meat…. but might allow haribo – confusing I KNOW! – I’ll blog about that another time) and I try to go to shul for some of the festivals during the year – purim, sukkot etc.
A colleague of mine belongs to a United Shul will Eat non kosher in the office, from what he said, doesn’t go to shul as much as me…. The fine details DO NOT MATTER. What matters is how you can explain this to the non-Jewish world and in short – YOU CAN’T.
Between the two of us we don’t care ‘How Jewish’ one or the other of us is – at festivals we wish each other Chag Sameach, wish each other a happy new year, and share little yiddishe jokes between us. We are just two, not everyone is so happy to share.
I could bore anyone silly enough to keep reading this far for another few hundred, maybe thousand, words, but at nearly 560, I feel this is more than enough.
The long and short of it is – to the outside world a Jew is a Jew. No matter how religious you are or you feel. Internally we should embrace this, stick together and learn to at least tolerate each other. If G-d Forbid 1000 times, the 20th century repeats itself – whether we tolerate, talk and get on with eachother or not. Together would stand the religious and the not, and together we would fall.