Friday, December 24, 2010

Whether/Whither Judaism

At first this video had me laugh, the attempt of selling Judaism to a non-Jewish child with a Jewish father (Ross). But then I realized from my own life how my life must look to the non-Jews I know, many of whom consider me some kind of Utah Mormon farm-boy on the "facts of life" - having long ago left my pasts in the dust in coming to God. The pointless hopes and beliefs, the confining restrictions and observances that may lend "meaning"- but who wants THAT kind of meaning?...why not all the pleasures of the body, the full belly, the full bank account and the emptied bottle? Why bother with this entire silly scenario with its dumbed-down Jewish narrative (Maccabees and lights and war - not what they were fighting for), it's nostalgic Christmas one (even yet removed from Jesus, etc), and the subtext of a deceived next generation?

This video came to mind again after reading three recent news pieces, one on the financial crisisstatus of Jews and Judaism in America, the third on the actual numbers of "Jews" in America. The video reminded me of the seeming religious-irrelevance of Judaism, of religion at large for so many people, the foolishness of the Orthopraxy of the parent; they're toying with the kid during the holiday season to implant positive notions one way or another into his head that he will form identities around; essentially what Orthoprax parents do. All have good intentions, and ultimately, Judaism does at least prove itself in the end as....something. And in one way or another, the only Jews present were
of establishment institutional Jewish life, another on the intermarried - Ross to his first wife, Monica who snuggles up with Chandler/Santa. But all along the way, circumstances are mistaken for something weirder than than are (Phoebe's suggestion that they've crashed the Easter Bunny's funeral, for ex). As I look at this data, as I experience my life and it's many voids, misunderstandings and failed attempts at...more life, I'm having to proclaim agnosticism - for what the term itself does and does not mean; the term 'agnosticism' says nothing about certainties regarding God as such, despite how often it's confined to that meaning. I simply don't know and neither can you - about the Jewish future, about the Jewish past. We have selective memory of everything from chronicled historical events, sacred texts, various editions of revelations, halachot...And memory, zachor, is the only thing sanctioned by Torah Judaism - not history. In considering such an accounted 'past' [historical sense] which we cannot survey objectively - having doctored our own family portraits, cooked our own books (as well as 'canonized' editions of them over time) - how can we consider the future? Whose future? Tikvah l'vad.


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