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  1. #1
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    Aug. 28, 2007
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    Default Tradition vs. Religion

    This may sound weird, but I'm not sure what to celebrate or how to go about it.
    My mother is Taoist, a reverend, certified reiki master, purple moo moo and all.
    My dad is a born again Christian, but while growing up my dad was just a hippie. Thankfully my dad feels helping people find Christ is not his job, but God's job.

    Me? Well they sent me to a Methodist private school for my lower education, so I can cite new testament quotes, list all the books in order, yada yada. Every year we celebrated Christmas, but in our little nativity scene, the baby Jesus was represented by a mini troll doll until Christmas morning. My parents were not short on a sense of humor.
    About 10 years ago I got really interested in Judaism, but kept the interest to myself. One of my best friend's family's is conservative Jew, and they have been very welcoming in including me in their celebrations. They invited me to Shabbat one Friday night, and during the service I pretty much lost it. I was overwhelmed with this feeling of HOME.

    So I'm kinda stuck. I call myself a Neo-Pagan Jew, but this time of year just throws me for a loop.
    I have a Christmas tree out in my shed, and a HUGE box of blue and silver decorations. I've got stockings and everyone expects to do the Christmas gift exchange. Trouble is I feel kind of bad celebrating the birth of someone I feel was just a dude who through the help of god tapped into what we all possess.
    My boyfriend (we've been together over 2 years) was raised 1/2 Jewish, 1/2 southern Baptist, and now calls himself an agnostic. He's willing to support whatever the heck I decide.

    I'm considering not celebrating anything, but I'm unsure how to go about doing that.
    And how the heck do I tell people I'm Jewish, but I don't have a thorough education yet (ie, if my friend doesn't call me to tell me a holiday is coming up, I have no clue)
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  2. #2
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    Apr. 10, 2005
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    Spring, TX
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    Default

    My husband and I both grew up Catholic, but are now agnostic teetering on the edge of atheism.
    We celebrate Christmas as a Hallmark holiday ~ we have a tree, the ornaments, the snowman tree skirt, and stockings. We buy our kids ridiculously overpriced gifts. We say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We drink egg nog.

    However, it's Christmas morning and none of the presents under the tree are unwrapped, and Santa didn't come last night.
    We're trying something new this year and giving gifts on New Year's Eve. And our five kids are absolutely OK with that. They are still breathing, smiling, and healthy.
    Our new tradition is to watch a scary movie (Devil last night) on Christmas Eve as a family, and go to the theater on Christmas Day (we're seeing Skyline tonight.)
    Christmas is too much stress, and I don't like to live a stressful life.



  3. #3
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    Default

    All of us go thru what you are experiencing, but more as an early teen than an adult.
    Then, it is no telling what our brains will hook onto from all that is out there, what will resonate with who we are.

    At least many of us are lucky enough to have choices and not be burned at the stake of whatever more or less spiritually strict society we live in.

    When it comes to spirituality, human cultures still wing it on a very thin layer of civility, be glad that you are around folks that let you grow on your own path and don't judge you negatively for doing so, not seeing the light as they understand it.

    Try living in a traditional muslim country, or a very close Bible belt community, where most are Baptists, Methodists or such and even Catholics are (politely) ostracised, put in the heaten category.

    Remember that one reason you are searching is because human brains have evolved in a way that we are driven by our emotions when it comes to spiritual questions.
    What we believe is not based on reason, but "faith".
    As you say, what we "feel is right", who we are, no explanation to be found or needed, it just is.
    People with those kinds of brain connections in these matters may have at one time be ahead of others, as that made you sure you belonged to your tribe and guided you to cooperate, unlike those that were more independent and so may not have formed the larger groups of humans that modern civilizations are based on.



  4. #4
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    Default

    Christmas trees are pagan rituals anyway, so do what feels right to you.



  5. #5
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    May. 25, 2001
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    First off, you should not tell Jews you are Jewish. You aren't Jewish. It's weird for people raised Christian to understand, but believing in Judaism doesn't make you Jewish. Feeling the tenets of Judaism are correct also does not make you Jewish. Having faith in the Jewish conception of G-d doesn't make you Jewish. Nothing you think about anything, does or doesn't make you Jewish. You are Jewish if a)your mother was Jewish or b) you were legally converted under Jewish law. Conversion is a lengthy process (and, Jews discourage converts, so expect to be rejected for conversion the traditional 3 times).

    If you feel you need to say something (and asking about religion is rude among strangers so I can't imagine it comes up too often) you can say you're "questioning organized religion" but "interested in learning more about Judaism."

    I don't celebrate Christmas myself, and I'm kind of involved in a War Against Channukah this year, but I celebrate, as I call it, "Annual Festive Gift Giving Season." The tree, yule log, etc are actually trappings of Germanic paganism and nothing to do with Jesus anyway.
    Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!



  6. #6
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    You don't have to celebrate anything, you know I'm a big ole Jesus freak but I gotta tell you, I am sick of Christmas songs LOL!!

    Sometimes life is good just being at peace, having some joy and a nice cup of coffee, KWIM?

    Oh, and don't let people tell you what you are or are not. That is between you and God
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by twotrudoc View Post
    Oh, and don't let people tell you what you are or are not. That is between you and God
    That's a purely Christian perspective. If you want to be jewish, you have to give up thinking that way. Judaism is a set of laws, not a set of beliefs, period.

    That's basically like saying to an illegal immigrant, "don't let some pesky government tell you who is an American citizen."
    Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!



  8. #8
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    Aug. 19, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by twotrudoc View Post
    Oh, and don't let people tell you what you are or are not. That is between you and God
    Amen! Explore whatever feels right for you. IMHO, religion is a very personal thing, and you have the right both to believe and to celebrate whatever feels right to you
    Please don't sabotash my conchess.



  9. #9
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    Default

    Normally I would be happy to get into a debate over the merits of becoming/being accepted as, etc, Jewish but today is not the day. And I have only been a Christian for a few years so I can give you an extremely well educated atheist opinion as well with a little back up from my Jewish friends.

    You are entitled to your opinion that yours is the end all be all of Judaism. Have fun with that
    The Knotted Pony

    Proud and upstanding member of the Snort and Blow Clique.



  10. #10
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    Aug. 19, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelloAgain View Post
    First off, you should not tell Jews you are Jewish. You aren't Jewish.
    As someone born Jewish by your definition (Jewish mom, Christian dad), I certainly wouldn't be offended if the OP identified herself to me as a Jew, strictly based on her beliefs. In fact, if she celebrates the holidays, believes in the scriptures, and follows the traditions, I'd venture to say she's "more Jewish" than I am. Lest you think I don't "get it", I do...I'm simply someone who believes that one can gain inner peace from their own version of the religion of their choice, and if they want to identify themselves as a believer, that's their prerogative.
    Please don't sabotash my conchess.



  11. #11
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    Oct. 26, 2005
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    OP: if you want to talk more, send me a PM

    I am in the process of converting to Judaism. I actually brought it up during Off-Topic a few months ago, maybe nearly a year?

    I was raised Roman Catholic in a (mainly) Italian and Irish family. My family does not know I am in the process of educating myself towards conversion- I kind of figured I'd wait until the summer, when it's a more religiously-neurtral time of year for them

    They do know that my boyfriend is Jewish, by way of his mother's uterus, but he is a very naughty Jew, who doesn't believe in a god or God, and really likes bacon on his cheeseburgers. We have both been going to a class (Judiasm from a Liberal Perspective) at a local synagogue for the past few weeks. He, too, is supportive of my desire to find religion/adopt a culture, so long as I don't force him to keep a kosher house or do anything that doesn't agree with his own morals/standards/etc. He is enjoying reviewing the culture he grew up in, though Especially the weekly challah bread!

    This is how I reconciled my conflict between my desire to "live a Jewish year", as the rabbi has suggested I do before I seriously persue conversion, and my desire to enjoy my family and the traditions of the holiday (mainly, lasagna on Christmas Eve and the gifts of toiletries that are the staple gifts of my Nonnie, hahaha!) :

    I did not go to church (but then again, I haven't since high school). I focused my greetings on how nice it was to see people, etc, instead of "Merry Christmas". I bought a few presents for family, but they were on a much smaller scale than the past, and for fewer people. I went to my grandparent's on Christmas Eve for lasagna, but I kind of manipulated my work schedule to use it as an excuse not to partake in the rest of the holiday festivities on Christmas Day.

    Moving forward, even after I fully convert, I have no intention of abandoning the family get-together. If I have kids, I will explain to them that we attend the parties because it is a chance to see the whole family once a year. I don't mind if there are presents, but I definitely would keep them to a minimum, and more practical than fanciful.

    I assume that even after I convert, my family will still want to see me at the holiday events. I see no reason to turn down the invitation, because I am going to want to see them. As long as my family understands where I stand, and as long as I go in with my intention of seeing family (as opposed to celebrating the birth of Jesus), I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying the festivities.

    This really isn't a big time of year for Jews (or at least, it isn't traditionally). I say celebrate how you want to. If you aren't yet ready for the blue and white, at least don't put up Christmas stuff- leave your house neutral. If you want to make Hannukah bigger than it was meant to be, do it up with the blue and white when you're ready.

    One thing I have noticed is that there isn't really a Jewish holiday where gift giving is super important (but then again, Christmas wasn't always about gifts and commercialism, but I digress), but I DO love giving people presents! So, I still will probably give small gifts as a token of a friendship or love for a relative, because it "is the season"... but I'm not using it as reflective of celebrating anything religious.

    And call yourself whatever you like, but it is a bit misleading to say you're Jewish. I would wager that, like myself, you are Jewish in your heart, but technically, you aren't yet. So with those who ask, I say I'm in the process of converting and trying to live a Jewish year.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaideux View Post
    OP: if you want to talk more, send me a PM

    I am in the process of converting to Judaism. I actually brought it up during Off-Topic a few months ago, maybe nearly a year?

    I was raised Roman Catholic in a (mainly) Italian and Irish family. My family does not know I am in the process of educating myself towards conversion- I kind of figured I'd wait until the summer, when it's a more religiously-neurtral time of year for them

    They do know that my boyfriend is Jewish, by way of his mother's uterus, but he is a very naughty Jew, who doesn't believe in a god or God, and really likes bacon on his cheeseburgers. We have both been going to a class (Judiasm from a Liberal Perspective) at a local synagogue for the past few weeks. He, too, is supportive of my desire to find religion/adopt a culture, so long as I don't force him to keep a kosher house or do anything that doesn't agree with his own morals/standards/etc. He is enjoying reviewing the culture he grew up in, though Especially the weekly challah bread!

    This is how I reconciled my conflict between my desire to "live a Jewish year", as the rabbi has suggested I do before I seriously persue conversion, and my desire to enjoy my family and the traditions of the holiday (mainly, lasagna on Christmas Eve and the gifts of toiletries that are the staple gifts of my Nonnie, hahaha!) :

    I did not go to church (but then again, I haven't since high school). I focused my greetings on how nice it was to see people, etc, instead of "Merry Christmas". I bought a few presents for family, but they were on a much smaller scale than the past, and for fewer people. I went to my grandparent's on Christmas Eve for lasagna, but I kind of manipulated my work schedule to use it as an excuse not to partake in the rest of the holiday festivities on Christmas Day.

    Moving forward, even after I fully convert, I have no intention of abandoning the family get-together. If I have kids, I will explain to them that we attend the parties because it is a chance to see the whole family once a year. I don't mind if there are presents, but I definitely would keep them to a minimum, and more practical than fanciful.

    I assume that even after I convert, my family will still want to see me at the holiday events. I see no reason to turn down the invitation, because I am going to want to see them. As long as my family understands where I stand, and as long as I go in with my intention of seeing family (as opposed to celebrating the birth of Jesus), I don't think there is anything wrong with enjoying the festivities.

    This really isn't a big time of year for Jews (or at least, it isn't traditionally). I say celebrate how you want to. If you aren't yet ready for the blue and white, at least don't put up Christmas stuff- leave your house neutral. If you want to make Hannukah bigger than it was meant to be, do it up with the blue and white when you're ready.

    One thing I have noticed is that there isn't really a Jewish holiday where gift giving is super important (but then again, Christmas wasn't always about gifts and commercialism, but I digress), but I DO love giving people presents! So, I still will probably give small gifts as a token of a friendship or love for a relative, because it "is the season"... but I'm not using it as reflective of celebrating anything religious.

    And call yourself whatever you like, but it is a bit misleading to say you're Jewish. I would wager that, like myself, you are Jewish in your heart, but technically, you aren't yet. So with those who ask, I say I'm in the process of converting and trying to live a Jewish year.
    Thank you for this
    I DO live in the thick of the bible belt (NC) in a VERY Christian area (there's a pastor across the street and 6 churches within a mile of my house) which does make it challenging at times because there are zero people locally to relate to.
    I understand the process of conversion. My bestie's husband converted and I was there for the whole process, and I can honestly say at this point in my career I don't have months it took for him to study.

    LOL, maybe I'll be like my mom and just celebrate the solstice.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  13. #13
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    What a timely thread for me.

    I was raised Bible Protestant. Even growing up, I was very comfortable with G-d, but I was never really comfortable with the idea of Jesus being my personal savior. As much as I tried, I never felt in my heart what I was taught to believe.

    My husband is Jewish. I never really considered Judiasm, but as I learned more about the religion, the more comfortable I became with it. I did convert after we were married, but it was a fairly simple class and ceremony. We have raised our daughters Jewish. I did, for a while, try to blend both traditions and have a Christmas tree but it was too confusing for our girls.


    To me, it is mostly about how you live your life and how you treat others, not what your particular religious affiliation is. How you decide to worship G-d is truly between you and G-d.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haalter View Post
    As someone born Jewish by your definition (Jewish mom, Christian dad), I certainly wouldn't be offended if the OP identified herself to me as a Jew, strictly based on her beliefs. In fact, if she celebrates the holidays, believes in the scriptures, and follows the traditions, I'd venture to say she's "more Jewish" than I am. Lest you think I don't "get it", I do...I'm simply someone who believes that one can gain inner peace from their own version of the religion of their choice, and if they want to identify themselves as a believer, that's their prerogative.

    This. Totally.

    Do whatever is meaningful to you, and what brings you peace and joy.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HelloAgain View Post
    You are Jewish if a)your mother was Jewish
    not to snipe a thread. but what if my mother's mother's mother's mother (so my great great grandmother) was jewish - does that make me jewish?
    * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am



  16. #16
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    Make your celebration be about what is meaningful and joyous for you. For me. I like to celebrate First of Muharram, Virgin of Guadalupe, Ashura, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and of course Festival of the Radishes!!!

    http://www.christmas-in-oaxaca.com/night-of-radish.htm



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksmom View Post
    not to snipe a thread. but what if my mother's mother's mother's mother (so my great great grandmother) was jewish - does that make me jewish?
    The Jews would view you as such, genetically speaking. But that is a complicated question in the age of the Diaspora (the spread-out nature of Jews not in Israel), and even more so in an age where many people choose not to have a religion, let alone stick with the one of their ancestors. I have read some interesting discussions about this idea of "Jewish despite your own sensibilities".

    The reason it is matrilineal in Judaism is to remove all doubt of where the baby comes from. In fact, in Judaism, if a divorce is granted, a man can remarry practically that afternoon, but a woman must wait 3 months, just to be sure any forthcoming babies are correctly attributed to the proper man. Especially important if a father is a Kohen or Levite.



  18. #18
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    Speaking as a white (but not Anglo-Saxon) Protestant who grew up in a town that is predominantly Catholic (Italian/Irish) and Jewish -- yes, I thought myself to be a religious and ethnic minority in the US growing up! boy was I wrong! -- I can't claim to be the arbiter of what is and is not Jewish. However, given the fact that I have...
    • and have had many Jewish friends and acquaintances (some of whom identified as culturally Jewish, but were not particularly religious, and some of whom are devout)..
    • been to more bar and bat mitzvahs than you can shake a stick at
    • have heard first hand the "woe is me's" re studying for the same
    • been to temple, not just for bar/bat mitvahs and weddings but as a kid to the Jewish version of Sunday school


    I can tell you that, absolutely, claiming to be "Jewish" without having officially converted can be offensive to many. (Sure not all, but please consider the reasons WHY.)

    Jews have had endured a history of persecution across many thousands of years. I'm not talking about "just" the Holocaust but of pogroms in Russia, the Inquisition in Spain and many, many more incidences both historic and contemporary.

    There ARE still places where people seriously believe -- today, in this day and age -- that Jews eat babies and/or have horns. Are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to control the world's finances. Or, actually DO control the world's finances. Or will not pass Go, will not collect $200 and will go directly to hell. (I am not kidding. Yes, some of this will be urban legend to y'all, because you're hearing it secondhand, but I KNOW people who have had these experiences. And you don't have to look too far to find some real wingnut groups that believe in crap like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    (My sister, in fact, heard that bit about Jews going straight to hell in her (Christian) Bible study group in Greensboro, NC about 2 years ago.)

    So blithely saying "some of my Jewish friends are okay with this/I'm free to be me" doesn't mean that all Jews will be. Nor should they be/have to be. From their perspective, you get the fun, without the history of ignorance and prejudice. Yes, it's delightful that you're openminded. Yes, absolutely explore this. But to claim Jewishness without serious reflection AND study can be seen as offensive -- and, in my mind, rightfully so.

    And, yes, I also know 2 women who HAVE converted to Judaism. I found out with one of them by blithely wishing them a Merry Christmas (Scandihoovian from the Great Lakes region = Lutheran to me and I found out (in a polite but firm way), no, she is now a Jew and wish her the best of the holiday season but she has given up on the Christianity stuff.

    I can respect that though. She converted YEARS ago, she raised her two sons in the Jewish faith/Jewish culture (her husband is Jewish).

    I'm sure you're very sincere in your desires and beliefs, but it's not just about you and your relationship with God. That's -- to me -- a very Baptist way of thinking. For many Jews, it is as much about philosophy and culture and shared history as it is about religion. And in terms of the religious perspective, HelloAgain is correct -- Jewish law is strict about who is and who is not Jewish.



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