Who’s a Jew? Maybe you!

I’m still working on another post that I think says things that need saying about a fundamental tension in modern liberal Judaisms. But I’m taking a moment here to put down a marker on a different issue–Jewish identity.

A post by Elad Nehorai at Hevria, entitled “On Loving Jews Who Aren’t Jews,” is making the rounds and provoking considerable anger. (Elad Nehorai also blogs as Pop Chassid.) Hevria’s “About” page includes the following:

We are a group devoted to spreading the idea of positive creation in a spiritual context. We want to make this world beautiful. And we want you to join us.

This statement has proven itself to be a little ironic in the last few days as Nehorai’s “On Loving Jews Who Aren’t Jews” has made its rounds.

Why?

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(Tumbleweeds)

All–just a quick note, given my (relative) silence. I’ve not forgotten you! I have five half-finished posts, none of which I’m especially happy with. I think it’s because there’s a core tension that I need to address in a dedicated blog post, and I need just a bit more time to formulate it.

On top of that, I’ve been busy reading for an upcoming seminar, prepping (already) for some High Holidays-related things, doing some of the initial work for building a Humanistic Jewish community of some kind here, and teaching a law class–all on top of my usual work and family commitments.

So it will be a little quiet around here for a week or two. But I’ll be back sooner rather than later.

If You’re Going to Use the Text, Use the Whole Text

In late July/early August, I’ll be in Farmington Hills, Michigan, at the Birmingham Temple for an IISHJ rabbinical program course on congregational management. One of the books rabbinical students have been assigned to read is Hal Lewis’s From Sanctuary to Boardroom, which is a kind of survey of leadership approaches with a Jewish…bent? Tilt? I’m not sure quite yet.

I’m not especially pleased with the book. And since part of what displeases me locks into this week’s regular Torah reading, well…blog post!!! Or as Christoph Waltz’s Nazi says in a negotiation with American soldiers in “Inglourious Basterds,” “Ooooooh, that’s a bingo!!!”

So, what’s my problem? One might think it ironic for a humanistic Jew, but it comes down to fidelity to the text.

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We Made It!

We made it to Humanistic Jew, Jr.’s eleventh birthday!

I thought I’d have something profound here, but really, I don’t. We made it without another trip to the hospital or another huge emergency. Heck, I had to wake him up this morning, he was so mellow. His big acknowledgement of his birthday today? “Ten is over. First day of eleven!”

HJJ is scheduled to have the following: ice cream cake today at lunch, birthday cake tomorrow night at home with his Bubbe and Zayde and Tante and a few others, and more cake on Saturday evening at dinner out with his Bubbe and Zayde and Tante and still more others.

And, of course, presents. Because birthday!

How Do You Do Shabbat?

The Jewish Daily Forward has an article, “The Change-the-World Shabbat Dinner,” by Abigail Pogrebin about new approaches to community service in the Jewish community–with a special focus on how some of those community servants spend Shabbat. Before writing this article, Pogrebin spoke at some length with Rabbi Adam Chalom, dean of IISHJ (where I’m a rabbinical student) and congregational rabbi for Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in the Chicago area.

Pogrebin’s conversations with Rabbi Chalom heavily inform her exploration of how the Avodah Jewish Service Corps members celebrate Shabbat. The article is well worth the read, and gives great insights into how and why secular and Humanistic Jews continue to celebrate Shabbat and understand our Jewish identities.

When the Casseroles Don’t Come

If you’ve been following the blog for a little while, you know that Humanistic Jew, Jr., was hospitalized last year. (If you didn’t know this, now you do. I’ve been open about it. April 30 was the one-year anniversary of the start of the first of two hospitalizations.) He was in a behavioral health (that’s the nice way of saying, “suicides, overdoses, and other acute psychiatric problems”) facility twice over the course of a month.

I haven’t mentioned that while there were people who were there for us, there were people we thought would be there for us but who were decidedly not.

It was isolating. That was made worse by what treament was like.

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Blintzes - crepes filled with cheese and other items - in a frying pan.

A Shavuot Hand-Down

Today is day…wait, I’m not supposed to tell you what day it is in the counting of the omer, the sheafs of grain that were traditionally counted in the lead up from Passover to Shavuot. At least, if you ask, I’m not supposed to give you the precise answer. Though I could give you the answer for yesterday, so that you could do the math from there.

And I’m sure there’s an app for that.

In any case, since we’re fast approach Shavuot, it’s time for a quick look at Shavuot for Humanistic Jews.

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Photo of an ancient cobblestone road

Cane-Users Need Not Apply

Civilization, writ large, has a complicated history when it comes to dealing with neurodiversity, disability, poverty, and any number of other perceived differences.

Photo of an ancient cobblestone road

Ancient cobblestone road: stumbling blocks?

Indiana hasn’t always been at the forefront of advancement in these areas: it was the first U.S. state to enact a eugenics law calling for the forced sterilization of certain persons, on the notion that poverty, criminality, and other perceived defects were a result of genetics. On the other hand, in 1921 the Indiana Supreme Court struck the 1907 law, even as in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court would say such laws were permissible under the federal Constitution, in part on the conclusion that “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.” Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 207 (1927).

Jewish culture is no exception to such problems. This week’s Torah portion, parshat Emor, gives us a not-too-subtle reminder of that.

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Being Both vs. Jews For Jesus

sjewindy:

Religious identity–even among those identifying as secular–is often more complex than we might think. Whatever your critique may be, you do yourself a disservice if you don’t get your facts right. Here’s a case in point.

Originally posted on On Being Both:

Being Both M&Ms

Let me be very clear. Raising interfaith children with interfaith education is not the same as being part of the Christian movement known as Jews for Jesus. Sometimes, I describe interfaith family communities as the opposite of Jews for Jesus, since many of both the Jewish and Christian parents see Jesus as a teacher or rabbi, rather than as a messiah. This is in marked contrast to Jews for Jesus or Messianic Judaism, both forms of Christianity that accept Jesus as the Messiah.

This week, a Reform Jewish rabbi wrote a post that conflates Jews for Jesus with interfaith families celebrating both family religions. I don’t usually respond to blog posts written by those determined to undermine interfaith families who choose interfaith education. But in this case, I am going to respond point by point, since this is not the first time that interfaith family communities have been confused with…

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