And so, as promised, here’s Jew & A, with all questions courtesy of DuJane. What I love about DuJane’s questions is that they’re so long that they make up half the post. It’s kind of like she inveigled herself a spot as Guest Blogger without me actually being on vacation.
Without further ado, except my standard explanation that these opinions are strictly my own and don’t represent any other Jews, goyim, Martians, or other form of life, here we go.
1. I was watching Sarah Silverman’s “Jesus is Magic” and she had a lot of commentary about Jewish people that buy German cars, especially those that were commissioned by Hitler. She even had a song about it. What do you think about this?
I don’t know. Was the song good?
Well, I have friends in Germany and I have visited and had a delightful time. That is to say, the Germans of today are no more responsible for what happened during the Holocaust than I am for slavery in this country. As a matter of fact, they are more acutely aware of anti-Semitism and right-wing racism than almost any people I’ve ever encountered.
But, for me personally, I feel uncomfortable when I ride in a friend’s Volkswagen and I certainly wouldn’t buy one. And not just because the mini-Cooper is the only car I could ever own. Volkswagen is quite symbolic, to me, of Hitler’s ideas. It’s a bit too much for me.
2. On Sex and the City, Charlotte converted in order to marry Harry. I always wondered if “real” Jews would take that kind of woman seriously. Are converts like the nouveau riche to the people who are born into Judaism? And would it be different if a person chose to convert for their own reasons instead of so obviously doing it to marry a person of the faith? Do you think Harry wasn’t a “good” Jew for dating her in the first place – I mean, really, it was such a date-this-type but marry-this-type situation that I don’t think he was fair to her and yes I watch too much SATC and this question has turned into a statement but I’m going to use a question mark anyway? And do they really refuse a person three times?
I don’t claim to represent all Jews. But as far as I’ve seen, converts are as accepted as any other Jews and are treated no differently. I do think that people who convert just for their spouse are often not as committed as those who find it on their own. But I need to clarify that. Some people just pay lip-service to it. Others, through their loved one, discover the religion and the culture and embrace it totally. Charlotte was in the latter group and so I thought that was lovely. We can see that from the fact that even during the period when she lost Harry, she still stayed the course with Judaism.
And maybe it was always in Harry’s mind that she might convert. That is to say, I saw those episodes a really long time ago and don’t totally remember that part. But we already knew he had problems because he was a Mets fan.
Yes, they refuse a person three times. We play hard to get. You have to really want it.
3. My ex-boyfriend was a Jehovah’s Witness who couldn’t salute a flag or say the pledge because it meant he was worshipping a false god. My new (hot) boyfriend is a retired military man that would spank me if I didn’t show the proper respect for a national anthem or flag presentation. I hate the “under god” part of the pledge and my Christian-right-wing family thinks that any question of removing “under god” is a direct attack on Jesus. So where do Jews stand on the flag, anthems, and pledging allegiance?
We love America! It’s been really good to us. I was always taught that July 4th and Thanksgiving were really important to celebrate because America was the land where Jews had found such incredible freedom. I went to Jewish schools and the pledge of allegiance was said every morning.
It is a Jewish custom to follow the laws of the country in which you reside and to pray for the government of that country. In Jeremiah it says: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have caused you to be exiled, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its prosperity you shall prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7).
I’m not sure how we got from your hot boyfriend spanking you to Jeremiah, but that’s the Joy of Jewball.
As for “under God,” well, I don’t like religion being injected into secular things. Sure, I believe we’re under God, but I don’t need to hear it in a pledge. And what’s next? Under Jesus? That wouldn’t be something I believed. So let’s keep the whole thing out, shall we?
4. When I was a Christian, there were so many instances where I disagreed with the “official” church stance on the issue, but still considered myself a Christian despite that differing personal viewpoint. Are there any issues where you strongly disagree with the official position of your faith?
I just have to say, the phrase “when I was a Christian” is really disconcerting to me, because there’s no instance of saying “when I was a Jew.” I think that’s because Christianity is a faith, but Judaism is both a faith and a people.
First off, there is no official position of my faith, really, but since I’ve peeked down below, I know that’s your next question and I won’t explain further. Patience!
It’s a common Jewish practice to believe that anyone who does less than you is doing the wrong thing and those who do more are insane. I follow this tradition closely. So, let me take this occasion to criticize those to the right of me, why not? There’s a tradition amongst married Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women to cover their hair when seeing men other than their husbands. I have to respect anyone’s right to do anything they like but I find the idea that men can’t control themselves when looking at a woman’s hair and that women should thus wear a hat or wig at all times both ridiculous and unbelievably sexist. But this is why I don’t let most of my relatives read my blog. That and the fact that I swear. So let’s keep all that between you and I, wink wink.
5. Does Judaism even have a governing body and “official” opinions? I know Lutherans have a big panel of people that vote and issue declarations and whatnot, and Catholics have the Pope and his people. What do you have?
Depends on the denomination. On the left, Reform Jews have the Union for Reform Judaism which hammers out their ideology and rules. In the middle, Conservative Judaism has an organization called United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which does pretty much the same thing. I have a personal connection to that organization and their rules but perhaps that’s best left to e-mail (that was for DuJane; what, were the rest of you reading too?). As I mentioned in an earlier post. I grew up within this movement. Don’t make me find the post. The search box isn’t just there for decoration, you know.
With the Orthodox, there are fewer “official” positions. If you are Hassidic, your Rebbe makes all your decisions. If you’ve seen the Movementarian episode of the Simpsons, you have some idea of what I mean. With anyone else, you either learn the laws for yourself or ask a learned person you trust (often your Rabbi) what the law is. Different Rabbis have different opinions as to interpretation of the law. The key is to stick with one person to answer your questions and not pick and choose answers you like from different ones.
Thanks for all the fine questions, DuJane! And next time, I’ll give some of my other fun readers a chance.