Friday, May 12, 2006

On DovBear and the Orthodox community

Can I just say how much DovBear rocks my socks? It's the wonderfully clear-headed way he has of criticizing his own community from within, and not feeling compelled to abandon that community because of the problems he sees in it. You've got to respect a guy who can put together such a clearheaded "list of things every Orthodox Jew should know." It's satirical, but not out of malice or resentment. It's religious, but not led by blindness or hate. Here is a man who, as Judah Who Always Said NO puts it, knows how to think.

Don't get excited, Mom, that doesn't mean I'm going Orthodox any time soon. But this guy has my respect.

I have to address number 25 on his list, though, from the point of view of someone whom he would not consider "frum" (although I've been told by not a few people, almost in so many words, that I am the frummest person they know outside of the relatives no one talks to from insert-name-of-town-with-high-Jewish-population, which still weirds me out a little).

A few weeks ago I got in a random conversation with a stranger (this happens when you're a chick in a kipa), and he turned out to be an Orthodox rabbi. I had to explain to him that I don't do the things I do "just to stick it to the Orthodox," but because I personally feel that they are right. This was both a relief and a surprise to him.

Really, why should this be a surprise? Just because I do something you don’t understand doesn’t mean I’m doing it to bug you. I mean, by wearing a kipa, putting on tallit and tefilin, I am of course making the point that I can and may. But that’s not why I do it. If that were my entire reason then I should make a career of storming Orthodox synagogues’ morning services and insisting on putting on my tefilin in the men’s section. If that were my entire reason, then I may as well give up, because one meshuggenah lady is not going to change Orthodox Judaism.

I don’t want to change Orthodox Judaism. I have no beef with Orthodox Jews. I have no problem with the frum (okay, I’m lying, I can’t stand campus Chabadniks, but that’s their fault). The things that I do, the commitments I have made in my life, the “extra” mitzvot I make an effort to obey, all come from a deep place of self-examination. That a way of life that came out of an eleven-year-old Schechter kid’s impulsive defiance has continued eleven years since shows that I’m not doing this to bother or insult anyone. This is between me and me, between me and God.

And just to round out DovBear’s list to thirty, I might point out that “God” is not the name of God, and therefore doesn’t really need to be written “G-d.” But That’s just my pet peeve. Who am I to say what every Orthodox Jew should know?

7 Comments:

Blogger Viola Cesario said...

And no jokes on the phrase “rocks my socks,” please. Any rocking of my garments by this guy remains confined to footgear.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

?
As a former schecter person, I went a different path as an orthodox jew now.

I do think public displays of Judaism should be taken with caution. People don't know better and think a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. The act of wearing a kipa as a woman is sending the message that is the norm or accepted by Jews as whole. The reason one would do this, I'd assume, is because they think it should be accepted...no offense.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Viola Cesario said...

I do think it should be accepted for a woman to wear a kipa if she wants to. If I didn't think so, what reason would I have for doing it?
That doesn't mean I think women should be obligated to do so. But I feel that if a woman chooses to, there should be no reason for her not to do so.
In my experience, most people do not assume that it is the norm for women to wear kippot. Most often, it provides an opening for discussion and education. I frequently have people tell me that when they first met me they went and asked Jewish friends to explain. Other people simply ask me point-blank.
I always explain, when asked, that I am not the norm, and why I do something that is not generally accepted.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Viola Cesario said...

In other words, I'm not trying to change anyone else's practice--just to open the way for women who want to follow my path but don't want to go first.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Daniel Q Blog said...

//I don’t want to change Orthodox Judaism.//
Other than OJ, women have the option of wearing kipas and being in the norm. So if you don't want to change it then ok...
//In my experience, most people do not assume that it is the norm for women to wear kippot.//
Hard to say as these are the ones who speak to you.

11:59 PM  
Blogger XVI (R) - NY said...

I think the whole God/G-d thing is because it is the name attributed to the oh great monogod, by whatever he is reffered. While discussing greek gods, for example, they are not assumed to be the vast infiniteness and so they are merely uncapitalized gods, the improper noun.

When reffering to Hashem though, god (improper) of the jews christians and muslims, we give hime the name/title God with a capital G.

Because there is some sort of issur in spelling out the name of God, be that Shakkai, or Elokim or the tetragammaton, there is a group that has extended that rule to ANY name of God, including the english name.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Viola Cesario said...

Which, if you think about it, is rather strange.

Or maybe only I think so...

3:33 PM  

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