Thursday, May 14, 2009

How To Stop Assimilation

The Jewish People are MORONS. Both the orthodox sector and the liberal sector. They cry about stopping assimilation, and neither the orthodox nor the liberals have the answer to stop it.

People are running from orthodox society because it's too damn strict. I don't claim to have much experience with liberal jewish society but I imagine people are leaving liberal Jewish society due to a general lack of interest.

The way I see it- the orthodox answer to stopping assimilation is by getting stricter. Just facking genius. The liberal answer to stopping assimilation in my mind appears to be spending millions of dollars on organizations that talk about stopping assimilation.

Both answers are wrong. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, Bernie Madoff didn't do a good enough job bankrupting Jewish organizations out of existence; organizations that are in my mind both redundant and antiquated reflecting an early-mid 20th century paradigm.

The answer lies in basic social skills- if you are a person who is enjoyable to be around, people are going to want to be around you. If you are not enjoyable, people are going to run run run regardless of how much you claim to hold the truth.

I can say, that if I didn't have such a bad experience with orthodox analness on rules, as well as some other bad experiences with the orthodox (I'd rather not say the nature of them because it's personal), then this blog would have just been a friendly ask-questions-and-seek-answers blog as opposed to being an outright blog of dissent.

In my mind something as simple a simple synagogue bowling trip or singles event *gasp * can do a lot more to stop assimilation and save the Jewish people from facking breaking apart than halacha and spending millions of dollars on www.justanotherbullshitredundantorganizatgion.jorg

In place of jewish organizations, the jewish people needs to be current-events/history literate on an individual level. On top of that, the challenge for the Jewish establishment in the twenty first century is to convey to the Jewish public that one can still be serious about religion, and still have a good time. The Jewish establishment also needs to convey why there's a need for religion at all, something orthodox judaism has utterly failed to do for me.

I'm writing from the perspective of one who is not religious, I dislike religion because I feel it stifles free thought (oh and orthodox judaism is too strict); I am not spiritual, I think spirituality is people thinking too much. For example, I don't need a reason for my existence beyond the fact that my parents copulated. Humanity's mental abilities come from evolution, not because we have some "special purpose." What I do consider myself is philosophical, I always enjoy a good read and a good discussion on metaphysics.

I personally couldn't care less if the Jewish people survives in name, only as individuals because I don't wish anyone bad. I basically prescribed what I feel the Jewish establishment needs to do to keep the Jewish people from falling apart, however I doubt they will wisen up. The orthodox will continue to get stricter and the liberals will continue to spend millions of dollars on crap.


Ahavah Gayle said...

I think you are 100% correct in your opinion - the Reform and Conservative, Secular and Agnostic Jews are too indoctrinated by western ideas of "selfism" vs community and population reduction - even of minority populations like Judaism. In fact, I just wrote a blog about that myself a day or two ago.

Meanwhile, the Chereidi turn off more and more BTs and even FFBs with more and more idiotic stringencies and bans. Ordinary UO people, however, are also starting to realize that their kids need a secular education and gainful employment to survive in this world - not to mention an accurate knowledge of medical science, history, economics, etc. necessary for competent decision making. And since they can get none of those skills in Chereidi communities, more and more people will bail.

This is where two groups could, but aren't, stepping up to the plate. First are the MO, who acknowledge the need for secular education and parnassah. And second are the Karaites (yes, there are tens of thousands of these still around in Israel and Europe and even in the US). Their "sola scriptura" practice of the written Torah alone would be attractive to many people of Jewish heritage who want to obey God but not the Rabbinate.

But as it is, any and all non-UO groups need to make a much bigger effort to convince people that Judaism is worth saving, and as you pointed out, they're just not doing it. They don't even know how. Reform thinks they are the answer, but they are nothing but a glorified social club for people whose ancestors used to practice Judaism - a total turnoff for people who want a covenant relationship with God, even if they don't quite believe yet.

Even though Reform has "growth," it can't last. Their kids have no reason to "stay" Jewish, and they won't. And a social club is only appealing when it does something for you - and what has Reform done for anybody lately? They don't even support the poor and elderly of their own congregations - and not everybody who isn't religious supports their far-left liberal social agenda they DO support. So they alienate about half those who might have thought about giving them a chance. It just can't work in the long term.

No, a social club won't work. Somebody has to convince Jews that Judaism is worth saving, and not for the sake of adding more people and money to the UO Rabbis little fiefdoms of social terrorism and power mongering.

SJ said...

>> But as it is, any and all non-UO groups need to make a much bigger effort to convince people that Judaism is worth saving, and as you pointed out, they're just not doing it. They don't even know how

1) denounce fundamentalism, including fundamentalist halachot regarding gender stuff.

2) stay on good terms with people who need a break from religion.

3) Avoid intelligent design arguments like the plague, noone with any kind of secular background buys it - stick with the cosmological argument and maybe Rene Descartes' essay Meditations on First Philosophy.

4) Convey that Judaism has something to offer for life in this world; that the secular world can't offer. What that is .... I don't know.

SJ said...

5) Convey that Judaism is * gasp * enjoyable.

Ahavah Gayle said...

You probably won't believe this, but in my house, Judaism IS enjoyable. My kids enjoy being Jewish, and, yes, even enjoy reading the Torah every shabbat.

First, we eat a nice lunch/dinner. Then we go outside (often to the nearby local park if the weather is agreeable) or at least to more comfortable chairs and go around in a circle and everybody reads. We do the whole parashat. We do it with "feeling" and even with jokes (often monty python or mel brooks). And anyone can say "stop" and ask a question or make a comment as the reading is going along. I explain to them the plain text, which I believe is the minimum we must obey, and I explain what traditions or customs that I think have merit were derived from that text, or I say why I think the Rabbinic interpretation is wrong. They enjoy the honest discussion and have since they were first old enough to understand and participate in the discussions). We often have friends or family over who don't do this at their own homes, and their questions are often enlightening. And they learn a bit from us, too. Then we have a big pile of desserts, our own little oneg. We've done this for over a decade now, and they look forward to it. The rest of the day we spend relaxing, individually reading prayers from the siddur, playing board games or cards, taking a walk or bike ride, visiting friends, or whatever. It's pure family time, no computers, no video games, no violent tv shows - no stress, no spending money, no pretentions. If you're committed to doing this and not being condescending or pretending to know things you don't then everyone will have an enjoyable day. What you don't need to do is go to shul (except on special occasions, perhaps) and be scrutinized and judged by the holier-than-thou crowd. Leave them out of your shabbat and you will find it greatly improved.

SJ said...

The problem is asking me to not use my computer on my break is a non-starter; as I imagine it is very similar for people who rejected shabbat.

Ahavah Gayle said...

You know, SJ, you can get on your computer all day before sundown on Friday and all night after sundown on Saturday. If you seriously can't even go 24 hours without getting on your computer, you have issues that have nothing to do with shabbat, LOL! Don't feel bad - I know several other computer addicts, too. In Japan they actually have computer de-tox programs... My son tells me there have been people who WOWed themselves to death. Do you really want to be so attached to a machine that you let it take over every day of your life? Good heavens, man - read a book!

SJ said...

The thing is, orthodox judaism is not about self control - it is about social control. Kasharut, dress code, Shabbat, holidays, separation from the outside world etc., is all about social control.

You can't just make up nonsense rules ooooooh no computer for a day, ooooooooh no cheeseburgers, you have no self control.

How about if I make up a religion and say that people have to jump up and down 10 times and the start of each day and be like oooooooh you have no self control to people who don't want to do that?

This is exactly what orthodox judaism is.

I work so don't lecture me about self control.

On top of that, I read every day, so thank you very much for your ignorant assumption Ahava. I really appreciate it.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Sorry, your arguement fails here. If no one else knows we're doing it, how is that social control? We live in an area that doesn't even have a modern orthodox shul, much less a Chereidi one! Do you really think the Reform Rabbi here gives a rats rear end what we do or don't do on shabbat? Now who's doling out the ignorant assumptions?

And in the end, it's not the social set you're rebelling against - since you clearly aren't part of an observant community. So let's charitably presume you're not just stuck in some adolescent rebellion for the sake of just being a rebel - how is it so terrible for you to have a relationship with God (and screw the rabbinate)?

SJ said...

>> how is it so terrible for you to have a relationship with God (and screw the rabbinate)?

I'm more of a deist whenever I lean towards theism. I never got a single thing by davending for it, on my experience i'm forced to conclude that if God exists he's busy watching the football game. In six days God created the universe, on the seventh God had a beer and kept on drinking.

Ahavah Gayle said...

You never got a single thing by davening for it.


That does sound a wee bit adolescent. God isn't a candy machine - insert a prayer, get a treat. Obviously I have no idea what you prayed for and didn't get, but several conditions apply. One, a covenant relationship requires you to hold up your end. So, just for the sake of argument, let's say you were 100% observant of the commandments in the written Torah. That still doesn't guarantee you're going to get what you want, because two, it might interfere in some way with your future or three, it will turn out horrible for you in ways you can't foresee. And four, placing your "belief" in terms of only getting what you want shows a lack of trust on your part.

So explain just why God should be obliged to answer prayers that will %$#$ up your life worse? Or answer prayers of people who don't trust and/or don't obey?

SJ said...

I would imagine that trustbuilding is upon the burden of God if God wants people to believe in him. No answering prayers is equivalent to no proof that God is around to answer prayers.

And why exactly should I follow anything if there is no proof that God is around to answer prayers?

Call me adolescent, childish etc. I'm not gonna bother with something with zero indication in MY own experience that it's the real thing.

Ahavah Gayle said...

Ah, bread and circuses - that's not real faith or real obedience if you think everything is set in concrete and you have no choice. Just like real love comes with no guarantees, neither does real faith. Why would God want a bunch of little robots? - sure, he could be a candy machine, program everyone to believe, rain bread and circuses all over - you try that. And watch and see if you don't just end up with a bunch of fakers who only like you as long as they're getting something from you. Why would God want that?

SJ said...

If having faith was a unilateral condition on the part of humanity, then every religion would be true in the eyes of the beholder. Indeed, that is the case.

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm writing from the perspective of one who is not religious"

Of course you realize that atheism is merely a crutch for people who cannot cope with religion.

SJ said...

And atheists say that religion is for people who can't cope with a cold dark world.

jewish philosopher said...

The difference of course is that religion is science based.

SJ said...

Jewish Philosopher, I don't think you are appreciating the vast amount of time and space that is available for life to develop as a natural process.

The reason why people with secular backgrounds don't buy into any other intelligent design arguments is two reasons- 1) we see that live occurs naturally wthout any divine guidance so we assume the universe can too, and 2) is that positing divine guidance creates an extra perhaps unnecessary step in the process why couldn't creation just be a natural process? There does not seem to be a reason why not.

Ahavah Gayle said...

You know, after considering your post for a while, I think the title of this post is misleading. It's not "how to stop assimilation." There's no "solution" to stopping your assimilation in your suggestion that "The answer lies in basic social skills." So apparently Jews should just stop being Jews and agree with everyone who is already assimilated. Seeing as you then go on to describe both in the post and in the comments that you have no intention in being Jewish because...God doesn't obey you and grant your three wishes?

Your post has nothing to do with stopping assimilation and everything to do with promoting it. Your heritage, your people and your people's future mean nothing to you - by your own admission. So why pretend you want to stop assimilation? Clearly, you don't.

SJ said...

Ok fine Ahavah, next time you get someone possibly interested in orthodox judaism, tell him that it has to be as boring as possible and you can absolutely never expect to get what you want from praying for it.

See how that works out for ya.

>>> So why pretend you want to stop assimilation? Clearly, you don't.

I don't care one way or the other.

SJ said...

I'd be keeping a few pleasant rituals myself if I didn't have such a crappy experience with orthodox judaism and if orthodox judaism wasn't an all or nothing deal.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I would not in a million years try to interest anyone in UO or Chereidi Judaism - they are a historically and intellectually false sect - a destructive cult. But that is no reason to reject other sects of Judaism.

SJ said...

modern orthodoxy is bull crap in my opinion and reform/conservative judaism are not really options where I live.

Ahavah Gayle said...

So your plan is to wait on somebody else to solve your problem? If what you want isn't available where you are, then bring it. Make it. Start it. It's not like there aren't plenty of others who feel as you do in your area - somebody has to make the first move. Why not you?

SJ said...

>> So your plan is to wait on somebody else to solve your problem.

I work. I receive paychecks. I solve my own shit.

>> somebody has to make the first move. Why not you.

I'm not the right person. I am very agnostic, and I don't think the 5 books of Moses has an ounce of historical accuracy.

Also, I can live without it.