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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

MordyS: Are Jews That Different?

This past Friday, Ezzie invited me to join his blog. After sitting on the sidelines for however long, I finally decided to get up off the bench and take a crack at this blogging thing for real. So I’d like to begin first by thanking Ezzie for letting me join his blog, and I hope my words illuminate people in the way they’re intended, without offending anyone. And if I do offend anyone, sucks for you. But seriously, please let me know, ‘cuz I’d really feel bad if I was ever so grossly misunderstood. On that note, please let me know what you think of anything I write. I really enjoy criticisms of any kind so LET ME KNOW if you don’t get anything or if you disagree.

Now let’s start this baby off with a bang…

In light of recent posts, and recent eye-opening events in my life, I feel like the rift between all the different Jewish labels is getting bigger by the minute nowadays.

I believe my particular grade school route has caused me to look at different sects of Judiasm a lot more carefully than most Jews. Until 5th grade I attended YSV, which I think everyone in Monsey would agree is a Chareidi yeshiva with a black-hat hashkafa. They had all the anti-TV propaganda (for lack of a better way to put it), and we had to contribute to the gemach when we were little, and in second grade we had lots of recess so the chain smoking rebbi could go out to “talk to the other rebbeim.” Then from 5th to 8th grade, I attended YRC z”l, which was catered toward the MO community. I remember when my parents came to Camp Agudah to tell me that I was switching to a school with girls, and being completely horrified at the fact that they were sending me to "public school" (eventhough I knew YSV was not for me or the way my family lived).

I remained, for those four years, part of the minority in the school that had any chareidi leanings. By 8th grade, I was the only kid in the school wearing a black hat and jacket every day. I then went to Ner Israel in Balt where I was made to feel like a sheigets for pretty much the entire freshman year. I got so depressed by my lack of feeling any accomplishment and friends that by 11th grade I needed to get out of there. Finally my parents let me go to TABC in Teaneck. Yeshiva Lane to Teaneck. Yes, it was quite a change.

Then I went to OJ where I got to chill with Ezzie.

Anyway, back to the point. (There was a point? Yes there was a point!!!!)

I know there are many with similar stories to mine, and many most definitely a lot more interesting. However, I feel as if my exposure to all these different hashkafos has given me the opportunity to take the good and the bad from them all and decide who I want to be as a Jew.

And frankly, I don’t know what kind of Jew I want to be anymore.

I mean, do I want to be a black hat wearing chareidi Jew? I’d rather not be associated with open and unabated bigotry, as I do feel all people are God’s creations. I also feel like the community is just as important, if not more important than the yeshiva and its talmidim even though I feel yeshivas serve a purpose in our communities. I feel kollel is important; however I don’t think it should be the common goal of all of our children. Someone’s gotta be a baal’habos! I feel like there is so much to learn from the outside world and there can be so much gain from powerful tools such as the internet. However, I’m just as big an advocate for tznius and taharus as the next guy. And as much as I believe in tznius, I really don’t think my daughter needs to be wearing that much make-up just because she suddenly graduated from BY and has got to be ready to find a good shidduch. Why was it not ok then for her to go out all done up 24/7, but now it is? So yes, I do value being devoted to learning and keeping halacha to the letter of the law and not trying to constantly make rationalizations for my behavior (even if I it’s still hard to), however I don’t believe in the “chumra of the week” mentality and I don’t believe in doing without knowing why I’m doing. And I certainly don’t believe in just doing because that’s the way I was always taught and that’s “just the way it’s done.”

However, do I really want to be a kippa sruga wearing MO Jew? Do I want to put myself in a community with people who don’t know, don’t ask, or just don’t care? I do love the open-mindedness of some and I do certainly enjoy some of the sense of community I get from the larger, non-shteebel like shuls. I also appreciate the larger interest placed on academia and the drive to succeed. However, I don’t see how one can live without any mussar of any kind and with a leadership that seems to be held at the throat by boardmembers and check-writers. So I love the education, but I hate how it sends them to a totally secular university to waste whatever money was spent on a year in Israel. I hate how the girls dress, but I love it how most of them will respond like a human being when addressed by someone of the opposite sex.

Maybe I wanna be Sefardi? I mean, if only we all had the kind of relationship with God that the average sefardi does. I never met an Ashkenazi that uses the term “Hashem Ya’azor” as much as they do. I love the amount of faith these people have, but I hate all the negativity that’s erroneously associated with them.

How about those chassidim? Who could match the kind of chessed and devotion that most of them are known for? However, could I live up to the responsibility of being the most visual representation of the Jewish people?

I mean, there are so many other hashkafos that I’ve left out, because this is really just making me tired. It’s dizzying trying to point out all the different things we all suffer from. Especially when we all really just suffer from the same thing manifested in different forms. And by the way, yeah that thing? It’s galus! But for now, what kind of Jew would you be? What kind of Jew are you? But more importantly, what kind of Jews are WE as a whole?

(Note: MordyS is a chassidish shteibel attending, black hat and jeans wearing, radiohead, jay-z and chaim dovid listening, accounting office dwelling, HUGE fan of R' Shlomo Freifeld, that enjoys all forms of art, live music, and observing Jews just being Jews and has recently taken up being mesameach chosson v'kallah as a new hobby. Oh yeah, and peace among all Jews would be cool too.)


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