Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mazel Tov To Chelsea Clinton!

Cross-Currents, representing the warmth and love of right-wing religious people everywhere, wishes No Hearty Mazal Tov For Chelsea. Why? She's marrying a Jew. And she's not one.

That reminded me of a dream I had when I was first going OTD. I was, in this dream, engaged to Chelsea Clinton! And my parents were fuming that I wanted to marry a non-Jew.

It's not that I was ever particularly interested in Chelsea Clinton, romantically. I think the role she played in my dream was like the role Sidney Portier played in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner: a perfect catch who had no flaws a parent could complain about, forcing the parent to oppose the marriage on explicitly racial (religious) grounds or not at all.

I think it's a damn shame when the response to the engagement of two people in love is anything but celebration. If your religion (or prejudice) causes you to feel something else just because the couple are Jewish and gentile or black and white or members of the same sex, well, your religion (or prejudice) just kinda sucks.

(Previously: Intermarriage and Interdating, Part I and II.)

62 comments:

Jack said...

Cross Currents isn't exactly a beacon of tolerance.

Orthoprax said...

I don't think it's appropriate to make it seem like the Jewish opposition to intermarriage is akin to some race purity idea or simple prejudice (though there is some of that in certain circles). I have a number of friends who are either intermarried or engaged to be and on a personal level I'm happy if they are happy, but it's a shame because it puts the future of the Jewish people in jeopardy.

Tigerboy said...

Orthoprax:

The future of the Jewish people is no more in jeopardy than the future of any other people.

If the tenets of superstitious philosophy are becoming less important and less observed, in a society that increasingly rejects superstition, then so be it!

That's not a "shame." That's progress. That's reality. That's increasing awareness of science. That's increasing awareness of the equality of all peoples. That's a good thing.

Pride in the history of one's ancestors is not in ANY way threatened.

The inherent racism in identifying one group as "chosen" with attendant breast-beating and hair-pulling over the possible inclusion of outsiders, is not something of which we should mourn the loss.

Anonymous said...

"but it's a shame because it puts the future of the Jewish people in jeopardy."

Intermarriage is actually a great way of protecting a people (think of kings trading off their daughters to create alliances.) It is the insulated who have the most to worry about.

Orthoprax said...

Tiger,

This has nothing to do with "chosenness," xenophobia or even religious beliefs. The Jewish people have a national and cultural legacy which is weakened and potentially lost as rates of assimilation and intermarriage rise. The more someone is of "mixed heritage" the less they are mindfully Jewish and the less will their children self-identify as Jews.

I have no problem if outsiders want to marry Jews - they can simply convert to Judaism. This implicitly demonstrates a commitment to living a Jewish life and raising a Jewish family.


Anon,

"Intermarriage is actually a great way of protecting a people (think of kings trading off their daughters to create alliances.) It is the insulated who have the most to worry about."

A nice idea, but irrelevant. Modern statistics very clearly show that the number of self-identifying Jews in America is shrinking. This isn't because of low birth rates or emigration - it's because the children of Jews from mixed marriages tends to result in high rates of assimilation. When something like >50% of American Jews are intermarried, this demonstrates a cause for considerable concern.

JewishRebel said...

So it appears your dream was nothing else than a form of nevuah and God approved of this union. You never know what good can grow out of this high-level marriage (just think about good old Esther!).

BTW: Have you noticed that people sometimes call it 'nevius'? It's just like people call a k'li a kaylee!

Anonymous said...

"Modern statistics very clearly show that the number of self-identifying Jews in America is shrinking."

Ah, and here I thought your interest was defending blood and flesh Jewish "people". As it turns out your concern goes out to an abstract idea of a Jewish "people", for which you seem to be willing to sacrifice the former.

Fred said...

Atheism is a pointless religion, but let's put that aside for a moment. Just wanted to give you a gold star (or a yellow star, if you prefer!) for bitch-slapping Half Sigma on that prostate study.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Ah, and here I thought your interest was defending blood and flesh Jewish "people". As it turns out your concern goes out to an abstract idea of a Jewish "people", for which you seem to be willing to sacrifice the former."

Hardly. Your advice, besides being irrelevant, was unhelpful. You think it was rising intermarriage rates that helped protect the Jews in Germany, circa 1933? If anything, it just made more victims to target.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheists have not been particularly known for tolerance of others, whether Lenin, Dawkins or Sam Harris.

How would an atheist react if his son married an Orthodox Jew? A hearty mazel tov? I don't think so.

Comrade Kevin said...

Shiksas are for practice, of course.

tommy said...

Shouldn't the title read "No Hearty Mazal Tov for Marc?" Is it incumbent on Chelsea to know or care about Jewish tradition when her fiancee obviously doesn't give a shit? I'm afraid that Gentiles are going to need to know more than just the Noachide laws if they have some kind of responsibility to uphold Jewish tradition when Jews fall down on the job.

Of course, I'm sure that hostility to Chelsea as a non-Jew didn't play any role in Adlerstein's choice of title. I have no doubt that if you asked Adlerstein, he would say that many of his best friends are non-Jews.

Anonymous said...

"You think it was rising intermarriage rates that helped protect the Jews in Germany, circa 1933? If anything, it just made more victims to target."

Do you think it hurt them? Made more "victims to target" (i.e. Jews), what a laugh, that is exactly what you are arguing for! Are you really claiming that antisemitism is the result of intermarriage? That's the kind of reasoning you'd expect coming from a chardie rabbi.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Do you think it hurt them?"

Actually - yeah. What assisted in bringing on the Nazi's ire was the fear of Jews ruining the purity of the Aryan gene pool.

"Made more "victims to target" (i.e. Jews), what a laugh, that is exactly what you are arguing for!"

No, not i.e. Jews. I.e. non-Jews who had relations with Jews and their non-Jewish children.

"Are you really claiming that antisemitism is the result of intermarriage?"

No, but it is without a doubt true that some forms of antisemitism are made worse with the existence of intermarriage. Indeed, I would contend that it was assimilation in general and the German's fear that the Jews were unduly influencing German life that worsened the fate of European Jews of that period. Obviously I'm not saying that fear was valid or even accurate but the historical events stand on the facts of history.

In any event, it isn't antisemitism that threatens Jewish life in America - which is why your advice to encourage intermarriage for protection is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

"Actually - yeah. What assisted in bringing on the Nazi's ire was the fear of Jews ruining the purity of the Aryan gene pool."

I am shocked that you would actually write this. You might as well go one step further and blame them for identifying as Jews thus "bringing on the Nazi's ire". Do you really think the Nazis couldn't have found other ways to "blame" the Jews?

"No, not i.e. Jews. I.e. non-Jews who had relations with Jews and their non-Jewish children."

That is completely irrelevant and I thought the point would be clear enough to you. What you want is the abstract "Judaism" to grow (i.e. more Jews thus more people to persecute), what they had was more people to persecute. Had the Jewish "people" committed to your plan the results would have been exactly the same, there would have been more people to persecute.

"No, but it is without a doubt true that some forms of antisemitism are made worse with the existence of intermarriage."

Then provide some evidence not simply a vague reference to the Holocaust, which obviously was caused by an incredibly large number of variables.

"Indeed, I would contend that it was assimilation in general and the German's fear that the Jews were unduly influencing German life that worsened the fate of European Jews of that period."

Good, and I could "contend" that the Holocaust would have been far worse if not for intermarriage. As long as specific evidence isn't being brought we both can contend whatever we would like.

"In any event, it isn't antisemitism that threatens Jewish life in America"

Then I ask you, what is a bigger threat to flesh and blood Jews (which is specifically caused by their identification as Jews) then antisemitism? Fading away as a "people" doesn't sound all that threatening to individual Jews' safety.

Anonymous said...

"Had the Jewish "people" committed to your plan the results would have been exactly the same, there would have been more people to persecute."

I should be a bit more clear about this. You are right that comparing intermarriage to a non-intermarriage situation would make a difference in the number of people the Nazis had to persecute. However, your ultimate goal seems to be to make the abstract Jewish "people" grow. I imagine you would find lower birth rates just as threatening to the Jewish "people". Though I do apologize, I should have made this clearer.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"You might as well go one step further and blame them for identifying as Jews thus "bringing on the Nazi's ire"."

I'm not blaming, merely noting a basic cause and effect.

It was a mistake for me to even bring up the Holocaust in the first place since it is nothing like the current situation. I only made a throwaway point about the increasing intermarriage rates in Germany pre-WWII and the rather obvious lack of protection which that granted the Jews of Germany.

"Then I ask you, what is a bigger threat to flesh and blood Jews (which is specifically caused by their identification as Jews) then antisemitism?"

I dunno, a large meteorite impact? The meager levels of antisemitism in America do not pose any significant threat to Jews or Jewish life in this country.

This is a pretty dumb argument overall since you're trying to make it seem like I'm pushing continued Jewish identity at the cost of Jewish lives while the fact is that Jewish lives are not in danger in America in the first place while Jewish identity really and truly is.

Anonymous said...

"I only made a throwaway point about the increasing intermarriage rates in Germany pre-WWII and the rather obvious lack of protection which that granted the Jews of Germany."

But again, you have not shown how intermarriage rates influenced any of the events of the Holocaust. Instead, you offered some easily dismissible conjecture and an ironic point about "more victims to target" which actually is an argument against your overall position. (After all, no Jews would have meant less "victims to target".)

"I dunno, a large meteorite impact?"

Notice how I intentionally wrote, "which is specifically caused by their identification as Jews".

"The meager levels of antisemitism in America do not pose any significant threat to Jews or Jewish life in this country."

What the future holds I cannot say, but there certainly are other countries where antisemitism plays a much larger role. In any event the point is moot, even if antisemitism is not a "significant threat" it still may be the greatest one.

"This is a pretty dumb argument overall since you're trying to make it seem like I'm pushing continued Jewish identity at the cost of Jewish lives while the fact is that Jewish lives are not in danger in America in the first place while Jewish identity really and truly is."

So now your argument is provisional? Would you apply it to the pre-WWII environment that you brought up? It seems (at least from that example) that antisemitism can "not pose any significant threat" for quite some time before it actually turns a situation volatile.

Random said...

"Cross-Currents, representing the warmth and love of right-wing religious people everywhere"

... and Jewish Atheist shows the warmth and love of atheist people everywhere by condemning all "right wing religious" people on the basis of some loopy comments on an extremist blog:-/ Speaking as somebody who's definitely right wing by the standards of this blog and tolerably religious too, I couldn't care less who miss Clinton marries (though I do commend her fiance's courage in entering a union where Bubba will be the father-in-law...), and would indeed be perfectly happy to offer them my best wishes should it ever occur to them to enquire.

Having said that - can I just say way to go to all the other commenters who decided to prove JA's point by managing to equate two young people in love to the Holocaust in about a dozen posts:-/

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"But again, you have not shown how intermarriage rates influenced any of the events of the Holocaust."

I wasn't trying to since it's a tangential issue and not something I care to get bogged down on. As I said, it was just a throwaway point in the first place. It's a far too long and complicated debate to have with some anonymous and unreceptive audience.

"Instead, you offered some easily dismissible conjecture and an ironic point about "more victims to target" which actually is an argument against your overall position. (After all, no Jews would have meant less "victims to target".)"

The point about "more victims" was that the Nazis then targeted people besides Jews. I didn't mean it in terms of numerics.

"In any event the point is moot, even if antisemitism is not a "significant threat" it still may be the greatest one."

Um, ok. Then it's the greatest insignificant threat. Touche.

"So now your argument is provisional? Would you apply it to the pre-WWII environment that you brought up?"

My point was that your argument is irrelevant as it does not represent current reality. I also happen to believe it's wrong in principle as intermariage has not historically lead to Jewish wellbeing. That's it.

Anonymous said...

"I wasn't trying to since it's a tangential issue and not something I care to get bogged down on. As I said, it was just a throwaway point in the first place. It's a far too long and complicated debate to have with some anonymous and unreceptive audience."

Do you not see the dishonesty in this kind of statement? You can't keep arguing for a point and call it "throwaway". You can't call me "unreceptive" and not offer any evidence. You can't hold anonymous commenting against me as an anonymous commentator.

"The point about "more victims" was that the Nazis then targeted people besides Jews. I didn't mean it in terms of numerics."

So the important factor to you isn't the overall number of victims? What does "more victims" mean then, the "types" of victims? This is simply putting group identity before individual life, something I have been arguing against the whole time.

"My point was that your argument is irrelevant as it does not represent current reality. I also happen to believe it's wrong in principle as intermariage has not historically lead to Jewish wellbeing. That's it."

First a correction, by "current reality" you are talking about America. That is a very specific current reality. However, you have not answered my question, is your argument provisional? As for intermarriage not leading to "Jewish wellbeing" I am not sure what to tell you, this was never an argument I made. If you really meant "Jewish people's safety" then I am more then willing to hear your arguments and alter my position if I find them compelling enough. I only ask that you provide evidence and not simply statements of your position (or "throwaway points".)

Anonymous said...

Orthoprax: If Judaism can't "market" itself to members and offspring of mixed marriages (and, yes, to the general public, as well), then maybe it doesn't deserve to survive, unless it is the true word of God, which neither of us believe, from what I can tell. Forced assimilation is always tragic, and must be opposed. However, people assimilating of their own free will is the exact opposite, it is a sign of freedom.
Replace "Jews" with any other ethnoreligious group, and imagine them assimilating of their own free will, not because of a totalitarian oppressor. Would you feel that bad? I guess I value people more than "a people"

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Do you not see the dishonesty in this kind of statement? You can't keep arguing for a point and call it "throwaway"."

I'm not arguing for it. I said all that I care to say on that subject here. It's dumb for you to now start a meta-argument about me not continuing to argue.

"So the important factor to you isn't the overall number of victims?"

The statement was not meant as a statement of value or importance. It simply noted that it made people into victims who would otherwise not be victims. I have no interest in belaboring this further.

"First a correction, by "current reality" you are talking about America. That is a very specific current reality."

It was also the specific topic of discussion.

"However, you have not answered my question, is your argument provisional?"

Which argument? Intermarriage poses a particularly threat to the American Jewish community whereas in other places it is not as significant.

"As for intermarriage not leading to "Jewish wellbeing" I am not sure what to tell you, this was never an argument I made. If you really meant "Jewish people's safety" then I am more then willing to hear your arguments and alter my position if I find them compelling enough."

Same difference. Let's cut this discussion to the point already. This would be a long and drawn out debate about all sorts of different Jewish societies and the hundred potential variables leading to their safety (and wellbeing) or not. I don't believe I can convince you to my point of view within the amount of time and effort I am willing to expend - no offense - on an anonymous debater present on a barely-read thread. Plus, this was a tangential issue that I don't need to disprove since I only need to demonstrate its irrelevancy - which I have already done.


"If Judaism can't "market" itself to members and offspring of mixed marriages (and, yes, to the general public, as well), then maybe it doesn't deserve to survive"

Such nonsense. What is popular doesn't define what is "deserving." To wit, popular culture in America is 90% garbage. The offspring of mixed marriages are offered a weak and watered down version of Judaism (if that) so it's no surprise that they walk away.

"Replace "Jews" with any other ethnoreligious group, and imagine them assimilating of their own free will, not because of a totalitarian oppressor. Would you feel that bad? I guess I value people more than "a people""

Yes I would. It would be a damn shame and a deep loss for the future if the unique heritages of the peoples of the world became lost within a hodgepodge of superficial sameness. Obviously I support people's freedom of choice and will to live the life they want but I also hold the right to consider their choices a damn shame.

It's not that you value individual lives "more" - it's simply that you do not value culture and heritage.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not arguing for it. I said all that I care to say on that subject here. It's dumb for you to now start a meta-argument about me not continuing to argue."

What I meant is that your so-called "throwaway point" was your *only* piece of evidence and you spent several messages defending it.

"The statement was not meant as a statement of value or importance. It simply noted that it made people into victims who would otherwise not be victims."

Lovely, so there was no point. Talk about irrelevant.

"It was also the specific topic of discussion."

Then why on Earth did you bring up WWII Germany?

"Intermarriage poses a particularly threat to the American Jewish community whereas in other places it is not as significant."

Would you like to expand on this point? It sounds like quite an interesting argument.

"Plus, this was a tangential issue that I don't need to disprove since I only need to demonstrate its irrelevancy - which I have already done."

What a baffling statement. You never needed to respond to any of my comments let alone "demonstrate" their supposed "irrelevancy". My impression had been that we were both willingly engaged in a debate. Is there an audience that you had in mind?

Anonymous said...

"Such nonsense. What is popular doesn't define what is "deserving." To wit, popular culture in America is 90% garbage. The offspring of mixed marriages are offered a weak and watered down version of Judaism (if that) so it's no surprise that they walk away."

I agree that popular culture in America is generally garbage, (I don't even have cable, although I can easilt afford it) although not for the reasons that I suspect you do. But from your blog I see you are a bit of an economic conservative. If we can trust the market with everything else, why not culture?

"It's not that you value individual lives "more" - it's simply that you do not value culture and heritage."

I value culture, but not heritage. What worked in another time and place may not work today. I'm always told that I should follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, who was a fairly observant (although not nutsy) Jew. But, who knows whether he would have been so observant if he had been born in 1975 in the US, rather than in 1910 in what's now Poland?

Tell me what's so great about Judaism that it deserves to be preserved, even if it means using psychological guilt tactics against people who (of their own free will) voluntarily choose to leave? The great tradition of telling 13 year old boys that a basic bodily function is a great evil? The wonderful heritage of sticking your nose into other people's choices in food and Saturday activities? The destruction of bike lanes because (chas v'chalilah) you might see some woman's ankle? If you believed this was the word of God, I wouldn't even argue, because you can't argue with a position born of faith. But from your blog, I can see that isn't the case.
I actually admire your blog, even though i disagree with you politically, because you put much of Judaism to the rationality test. But I just can't imagine a reason to remain Jewish, outside of a belief that an all powerful superbeing will make my life (and afterlife) miserable if I don't. maybe you enjoy a Jewish life, and good for you. But for me, it's a miserable existence. Please stop making people feel bad for making the choices that make them happy.

As I like to say: "If grandpa had jumped off the Empire State Building, would you expect me to do the same." Tradition is not a sufficient reason to do something.

Anonymous said...

I should also point out that, when a nominally Jewish atheist marries a nominally Christian atheist, it is decidedly NOT a mixed marriage. But when an Orthodox Jew marries a nominally Jewish atheist, it most decidedly is a mixed marriage.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Then why on Earth did you bring up WWII Germany?"

Indeed, which is why I said that it was a mistake 15 posts ago.

"Would you like to expand on this point? It sounds like quite an interesting argument."

Where intermarriage rates are lower, say, like in Israel, the low rates do not pose an existential challenge to the continuation of the community.

"You never needed to respond to any of my comments let alone "demonstrate" their supposed "irrelevancy". My impression had been that we were both willingly engaged in a debate."

I just wanted to discuss one issue, not get pulled into a series of irrelevant tangents.

"But from your blog I see you are a bit of an economic conservative. If we can trust the market with everything else, why not culture?"

I don't even know where to start with such a non-question. Point one is that I don't trust the market with everything. Point two is that I value the market in its ability to distribute quality goods and services at appropriate prices - it does naturally what a command economy would have to project. Such ability does not in any way suggest that the market is ideal for distributing culture or values since these tend to not have much cash value. Third, I object to the very concept that popularity or profitability lends "deservedness" to an object or program.

"I value culture, but not heritage. What worked in another time and place may not work today."

Heritage does not mean blindly following tradition, it's about knowing where you come from. Ignorance of what it means to be Jewish, of Jewish history and Jewish values, is a damn shame for any Jew.

"But I just can't imagine a reason to remain Jewish, outside of a belief that an all powerful superbeing will make my life (and afterlife) miserable if I don't."

I won't guess where you were raised, but I suspect it wasn't in a similar kind of environment as my own. If there is nothing in the giant edifice that is our shared Jewish heritage that you can find pride in then either your view has been clouded or you are simply grossly ignorant. If you have no connection with the Jewish people or to the deep and varied threads of Jewish history and therefore feel no sorrow knowing that you and yours will no longer be present on the Jewish tapestry then you ought have no personal regrets.

Whereas from my perspective, losing even one vibrant thread diminishes the whole.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed, which is why I said that it was a mistake 15 posts ago."

Actually, that would have been a lot easier. But in any event, I am glad we have moved on.

"Where intermarriage rates are lower, say, like in Israel, the low rates do not pose an existential challenge to the continuation of the community."

I would think Israel would always be a special case because it is a religious country.

"I just wanted to discuss one issue, not get pulled into a series of irrelevant tangents."

I can understand your urge to narrow things down, but I feel that your ongoing effort to label this "tangent" as "irrelevant" is unwarranted. Intermarriage has many effects, and it would be a mistake to only focus on continuity issues while ignoring what else it brings to the table. Ultimately, as I started off saying, if intermarriage can help to secure Jewish safety or equality in the long run then I don't see how it can be viewed as a "shame".

Anonymous said...

Also, I should mention that I do understand that your argument is focused specifically on American intermarriage. However, I don't see any reason to think that intermarriage is such an existential threat to abstract "Judaism". This seems to presume intermarriage is a cause and not an effect of the religion's waning influence.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"I would think Israel would always be a special case because it is a religious country."

Most Jewish Israelis are not religious. It's more of an identity issue than a religious one.

"Ultimately, as I started off saying, if intermarriage can help to secure Jewish safety or equality in the long run then I don't see how it can be viewed as a "shame"."

Intermarriage kills Jewish identity. If being Jewish is a danger then it stands to reason that giving up one's Jewish identity would be safer. But besides for the fact that I believe this assimilation has been met with regular hostility from host nations, it is in principle a pathetic way to live.

True security lies in living in a society where you can live as a Jew without fear.

"However, I don't see any reason to think that intermarriage is such an existential threat to abstract "Judaism". This seems to presume intermarriage is a cause and not an effect of the religion's waning influence"

I never said it was. Intermarriage poses an existential threat to the American Jewish community. As I said elsewhere, increasing intermarriage rates is less a religious issue than it is a cultural identity one.

Those who intermarry already have a weaker identity than most. The offspring of mixed unions tend to have weaker identities still. Intermarriage is both a cause and effect.

Anonymous said...

"Most Jewish Israelis are not religious. It's more of an identity issue than a religious one."

Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the difference. How is "religiousness" anything other then an identity?

"Intermarriage kills Jewish identity."

I don't see why that would be the case. Because some rabbi decided your mother's conversion was invalid your Jewish identity has been "killed"? Unless there is a very specific type of Jewish identity you are referring to? Orthodox perhaps?

"But besides for the fact that I believe this assimilation has been met with regular hostility from host nations, it is in principle a pathetic way to live."

You can believe it is "pathetic" just like intermarried people can believe being orthroprax is "pathetic", I am not sure where any of this believing will get us.

"True security lies in living in a society where you can live as a Jew without fear."

But what type of Jew? As a fundamentalist chardie who has no problem with abusing women? How about as a child of an intermarried couple who practices and "lives as a Jew"?

"As I said elsewhere, increasing intermarriage rates is less a religious issue than it is a cultural identity one."

So how would you define "intermarriage" then? Is someone who marries a spouse with a reform conversion considered intermarried? Would you not say that the answer to this question is shaped by specific religious concerns?

"The offspring of mixed unions tend to have weaker identities still."

Even if this correlation is true (I am not sure where these statistics come from, though it does seem a reasonable assumption) you still haven't shown intermarriage to be the *cause* of these "weaker identities".

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the difference. How is "religiousness" anything other then an identity?"

A person can have a strong Jewish identity and detest intermarriage irrespective of his religious views. It is identity that is the key, not religious opinions.

"I don't see why that would be the case. Because some rabbi decided your mother's conversion was invalid your Jewish identity has been "killed"?"

No. It's simply the case that the products of intermarriage are far less likely to identify themselves as Jews. Whether they are technically or Halachically Jewish is not the point. The Jewish identity of a whole bloodline of people dies.

"You can believe it is "pathetic" just like intermarried people can believe being orthroprax is "pathetic", I am not sure where any of this believing will get us."

You miss the point. It's not intermarriage in itself that is pathetic - it is intermarrying for the sake of a nebulous sense of "safety" that is pathetic. It grants victory to those whom you ought to most despise: antisemites. It's embarrassing to let them win. Like a black man whitening his skin so he "blends in" better. Why kowtow to the likes of prejudice and bias?

Like a black man in a racist society: be proud of who you are! It is the racists who ought to be ashamed! But it is an embarrassing act to try in whatever way to "pass" as white.

"But what type of Jew?"

Immaterial. Any type.

"So how would you define "intermarriage" then? Is someone who marries a spouse with a reform conversion considered intermarried? Would you not say that the answer to this question is shaped by specific religious concerns?"

Halacha is grounded in religious persuasion, but it acts simply as the legal basis for Jewish identity. Intermarriage is intermarriage, but let's put technical, legal concerns aside. In the context of my concerns it only matters to me how the couple intends to raise the next generation.

"Even if this correlation is true (I am not sure where these statistics come from, though it does seem a reasonable assumption) you still haven't shown intermarriage to be the *cause* of these "weaker identities"."

See the NJPS 2000/1 survey. The correlation is without a doubt true. According to the report, almost all children from in-married are raised as Jews. Only about a third of children from intermarried couples are raised as Jews. And those with intermarried parents are far more likely to become intermarried themselves.

Intermarried Jews score lower on every scale of Jewish connection, be they Jewish practice, Jewish community, or affiliation. In short, intermarried Jews have at least one foot out of the door from the Jewish people.

Anonymous said...

"A person can have a strong Jewish identity and detest intermarriage irrespective of his religious views."

I still do not seem to be comprehending your point. This person's "Jewish identity" is their religiousness. The fact that they detest intermarriage simply fits in with their religious identity. Judaism is a religion, not a hereditary condition.

"It's simply the case that the products of intermarriage are far less likely to identify themselves as Jews."

And what if you were to find that the "products" of orthraprax unions were far less likely to retain their Jewish identities? This possibility doesn't even sound that unlikely.

"You miss the point. It's not intermarriage in itself that is pathetic - it is intermarrying for the sake of a nebulous sense of "safety" that is pathetic."

Where was that sort of thing suggested? I never claimed that specific intermarriages were motivated by "safety" and am surprised that you would read such a thing into what I wrote.

"Like a black man in a racist society: be proud of who you are!"

Would you not say a benchmark of a black man's acceptance into this "racist society" is the point in which he can freely marry a white girl? If he did marry a white girl would you accuse him of "killing" his "black identity"?

"In the context of my concerns it only matters to me how the couple intends to raise the next generation."

Then why is intermarriage such an issue? Shouldn't technical "Jews" who raise their children secular be of far greater concern to you?

"See the NJPS 2000/1 survey."

Great a source, but once again these correlation do not imply causation. It seems just as likely that a parent's ambivalence towards Judaism can cause both an increased likelihood in intermarriage and in not raising their children Jewish.

Most troubling is that you don't even seem to care what this abstract Judaism that you are defending is. "Immaterial. Any type." These concerns sound more like a defense of racial purity then anything else (which seems to be exactly the point of JAs post to begin with.)

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"I still do not seem to be comprehending your point. This person's "Jewish identity" is their religiousness."

Wrong. I don't know how you were raised, but the Jews are a people, not merely a religion. This is exactly what makes a "Jewish atheist" not an oxymoron. Are you Jewish? I assumed you were because few others would care enough about this topic to engage in it, but now I'm not sure.

"And what if you were to find that the "products" of orthraprax unions were far less likely to retain their Jewish identities?"

Then I'll deal with it then. In the meantime it is a perfectly viable option.

"Where was that sort of thing suggested?"

It was the very first point you offered on this thread.

"Would you not say a benchmark of a black man's acceptance into this "racist society" is the point in which he can freely marry a white girl? If he did marry a white girl would you accuse him of "killing" his "black identity"?

Being proud of who you are is the point I made. It doesn't work backwards. Intermarriage obviously doesn't mean the same thing to black people as it does to Jews since Jews are not a race but a culture grounded in family and community activity.

If a black person has things in his heritage that he wants to pass on to future generations then he'd best find a partner who is willing to go along with that effort. If that were so then that would be similar to the Jewish perspective.

"Then why is intermarriage such an issue? Shouldn't technical "Jews" who raise their children secular be of far greater concern to you?"

Depends what you mean by secular. I have no similar gripe with secular Jews raised with a strong Jewish identity - as many are in Israel and elsewhere. In any event, in-married couples who raise their kids secularly without a Jewish identity are quite rare and therefore not much of a concern for me.

"Great a source, but once again these correlation do not imply causation. It seems just as likely that a parent's ambivalence towards Judaism can cause both an increased likelihood in intermarriage and in not raising their children Jewish."

Oh, of course it's such attitudes that are the root. You combat intermarriage by changing attitudes.

"Most troubling is that you don't even seem to care what this abstract Judaism that you are defending is. "Immaterial. Any type." These concerns sound more like a defense of racial purity then anything else (which seems to be exactly the point of JAs post to begin with.)"

Wrong, totally wrong and I'm frankly offended at the assertion. Judaism is the collectively produced culture of the Jewish people over 3000+ years. I want Jews to know this heritage and to draw from it whatever they find of interest or meaningful. I don't care so much about particular ideologies or levels of observance, but about the prospect that someday this culture will be as removed from human reality as the ruins of ancient Samaria. We Jews run a chain of history all the way back to ancient times and it would be a certain shame to have it broken now when it's among the easiest times in all of history to be a Jew.

Anonymous said...

"Are you Jewish? I assumed you were because few others would care enough about this topic to engage in it, but now I'm not sure."

No, I don't identify as Jewish.

"It was the very first point you offered on this thread."

Actually my claim was that integration could on a larger scale help combat prejudice against a minority. Not that specific cases of this were some sort insurance policy. (I don't imagine you would accuse specific individuals who intermarry of being "Judaism killers" either, only that their actions may indirectly lead to this consequence.) It's interesting that you brought up black segregation because this is a great example of where a separation of peoples was used as a means of mistreating the marginalized group.

"Intermarriage obviously doesn't mean the same thing to black people as it does to Jews since Jews are not a race but a culture grounded in family and community activity."

My first instinct then would be to question why you brought up black people as an example of your point. Black "pride" and Jewish "pride" would obviously be very different things if they are meant to bolster such different concepts of group identity (as you claim to be the case here). Still I must wonder how exactly this element of "family and community activity" is playing into the lives of those who leave the fold.

"In any event, in-married couples who raise their kids secularly without a Jewish identity are quite rare and therefore not much of a concern for me."

But how many of these children will go on to intermarry? If you are using intermarriage as your litmus test for Jewish erosion than any upbringing that leads to high number of intermarriages should be problematic to you.

"You combat intermarriage by changing attitudes."

So how do you "change" these attitudes? By yelling at these folks that they shouldn't be marrying shiksas? By guilting them with spiels about "3000+ years" cultures? For those not oriented towards defining themselves through their ancestors' history the Judaism you promote offers terribly little.

"Wrong, totally wrong and I'm frankly offended at the assertion."

I am sorry that you were offended, I had never intended for any of this to be personal.

"I want Jews to know this heritage and to draw from it whatever they find of interest or meaningful."

You call these people "Jews" but obviously they care very little for that identification. Such an approach is dishonest, as it puts a burden on these people to retain something that evidently offers them negligible returns. Though I can understand your personal dismay over the loss of your culture, as I imagine this identification does much for you.

mike said...

Everything has a purpose

א ויירד שמשון, תמנתה; וירא אישה
בתמנתה, מבנות פלשתים. ב ויעל, ויגד לאביו ולאימו, ויאמר אישה ראיתי בתמנתה, מבנות פלשתים; ועתה, קחו-אותה לי לאישה. ג ויאמר לו אביו ואימו, האין בבנות אחיך ובכל-עמי אישה--כי-אתה הולך לקחת אישה, מפלשתים הערלים; ויאמר שמשון אל-אביו אותה קח-לי, כי-היא ישרה בעיניי. ד ואביו ואימו לא ידעו, כי מיהוה היא--כי-תואנה הוא-מבקש, מפלשתים; ובעת ההיא, פלשתים מושלים בישראל.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"No, I don't identify as Jewish."

Meaning?

"My first instinct then would be to question why you brought up black people as an example of your point. Black "pride" and Jewish "pride" would obviously be very different things if they are meant to bolster such different concepts of group identity (as you claim to be the case here)."

Except that they aren't different. Pride in the identity in the face of adversity is the point and equally found in each circumstance.

"Still I must wonder how exactly this element of "family and community activity" is playing into the lives of those who leave the fold."

Less and less the farther from the fold one goes. This is also why I favor involvement in Jewish activities and so on.

"But how many of these children will go on to intermarry? If you are using intermarriage as your litmus test for Jewish erosion than any upbringing that leads to high number of intermarriages should be problematic to you."

Um, sure, obviously. But, like I said, such people are quite rare in the first place.

"So how do you "change" these attitudes? By yelling at these folks that they shouldn't be marrying shiksas? By guilting them with spiels about "3000+ years" cultures? For those not oriented towards defining themselves through their ancestors' history the Judaism you promote offers terribly little."

Generally I work on plain education that might help spur interest in their heritage as something they'd want to preserve. Confrontations, particularly yelling, is rarely effective, if not counterproductive.

"You call these people "Jews" but obviously they care very little for that identification. Such an approach is dishonest, as it puts a burden on these people to retain something that evidently offers them negligible returns."

There's no dishonesty here. Secular and unaffiliated Jews in America largely still do identify themselves as Jews - but they simply have little conception of what that means or what that identity connects them to in the grand scale of history, culture and family. It offers them little because they are ignorant of much. The goal is to invigorate interest in what it means to be a Jew.

Anonymous said...

"Meaning?"

I am not sure where the point of confusion lies. You asked me if I was Jewish. There is no one definition for a term like that (just go ask a chardie rabbi what constitutes a converted Jew and compare this to what a reform rabbi says), rather as I have argued before Judaism is an identity. As such, I do not beleive that this identity applies to me.

"Except that they aren't different. Pride in the identity in the face of adversity is the point and equally found in each circumstance."

You are simplifying the two cases in order to extract commonality. There is just as much difference between these two examples as you have already highlighted. Why doesn't intermarriage threaten black "pride"? Could you not see a version of black "pride" that would forbid intermarrying? Conversely, would a version of Jewish "pride" that does not focus on the "Jewishness" of lineage be possible?

"This is also why I favor involvement in Jewish activities and so on."

By "Jewish activities" do you simply mean activities that involve other Jews?

"Um, sure, obviously. But, like I said, such people are quite rare in the first place."

I understand that your claim is that even secular Jews raise their children with Jewish ideals. So where are all these intermarriages coming from?

"Generally I work on plain education that might help spur interest in their heritage as something they'd want to preserve."

It is true that many Jews do take much from their heritage, but I see no reason why learning about Jewish history cannot be taken in the opposite way as well. Just as practices like stoning witches and burning animals to a god become part of a nation's past so does fanatic tribalism. Not to say that this is the message that will, or even is likely to be taken from learning about Jewish history. I am only trying to differentiate between teaching the supposed "facts" of history from teaching "attitudes" towards these facts. The former is education the latter more in lines with indoctrination.

"It offers them little because they are ignorant of much. The goal is to invigorate interest in what it means to be a Jew."

That is exactly the same attitude that orthodox kiruv rabbis have. Many times these rabbis are even referring to reform and conservative Jews! Are you honestly arguing that Judaism offers every single person who happened to be born "Jewish" something worthwhile?

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"As such, I do not beleive that this identity applies to me."

I wanted to know about your background, which is related to the couple of times I referred to how you were raised.

"Why doesn't intermarriage threaten black "pride"? Could you not see a version of black "pride" that would forbid intermarrying?"

Intermarriage doesn't threaten black pride because there's no heritage being passed down. If they identified as more than a race then there might be an argument.

"Conversely, would a version of Jewish "pride" that does not focus on the "Jewishness" of lineage be possible?"

Of course. Hence pride is a general concept that works in many circumstances but the opposition to intermarriage only works in specific cases - as I just said earlier.

"By "Jewish activities" do you simply mean activities that involve other Jews?"

Possibly, but more specifically traditional Jewish activities.

"I understand that your claim is that even secular Jews raise their children with Jewish ideals. So where are all these intermarriages coming from?"

Generally from those in-marriages that foster offspring with a weak Jewish identity in the first place.

"It is true that many Jews do take much from their heritage, but I see no reason why learning about Jewish history cannot be taken in the opposite way as well."

A minority of people take the facts of any history in all sorts of strange ways, so what?

"I am only trying to differentiate between teaching the supposed "facts" of history from teaching "attitudes" towards these facts. The former is education the latter more in lines with indoctrination."

Only if the intent is to short circuit critical examination of the topic, which for me is not the purpose.

"That is exactly the same attitude that orthodox kiruv rabbis have."

Sure - and I agree with them in principle.

"Are you honestly arguing that Judaism offers every single person who happened to be born "Jewish" something worthwhile?"

Sure, potentially. I think it can potentially offer everyone in the world something that can enhance their life. Do you honestly disagree? You think the whole compendium of Jewish thought offers nothing worthwhile whatsoever to some?

Anonymous said...

"I wanted to know about your background, which is related to the couple of times I referred to how you were raised."

I had assumed your comment about how I was raised was meant as an attack on the credibility of my Jewish upbringing, not a sincere query in regards to my childhood. To answer your question, I was raised to be an orthodox Jew, though I am not exactly sure how this is significant to our discussion.

"Intermarriage doesn't threaten black pride because there's no heritage being passed down. If they identified as more than a race then there might be an argument."

They can identify with whatever they would like and it won't change a speck of their skin's color. Unlike Judaism being black is quite biological. Being proud of something you cannot control is quite different from identifying with something you are proud of. Obviously, you would disagree with me since you seem to feel that Jewish identity can be bestowed upon people without their consent.

"Possibly, but more specifically traditional Jewish activities."

Okay good, now we are getting to specifics. What constitutes a "tradition Jewish" activity?

"Generally from those in-marriages that foster offspring with a weak Jewish identity in the first place."

I see, so the problem isn't "in-married" couples who raise their children without Jewish identities, since this is "quite rare", but rather ones that raise their children with weak Jewish identities. So I will slightly alter my original question to you; Shouldn't technical "Jews" who raise their children with "weak" Jewish identities be of far greater concern to you?

"A minority of people take the facts of any history in all sorts of strange ways, so what?"

Yes, and the way you have understood this history is one of those strange ways. Deriving an identity from generations of dead men in a particular lineage who happen to have left behind some traceable marks of their existence is what many would refer to as bizarre. (This is not meant to be a judgment of your approach only an observation.) As it happens, the orthodox interpretation of "history" (if it can be called that) is even more strange then your own.

"Only if the intent is to short circuit critical examination of the topic, which for me is not the purpose."

It hardly matters what your purpose is, do you not see this as a likely consequence?

"Sure - and I agree with them in principle."

And how are you to know how complete your own education is? You almost undoubtedly are undereducated when it comes to other religions.

"Sure, potentially. I think it can potentially offer everyone in the world something that can enhance their life."

Yet you don't advocate that everyone in the world become Jewish.

"Do you honestly disagree? You think the whole compendium of Jewish thought offers nothing worthwhile whatsoever to some?"

Of course I don't disagree, your point is true in a trivial sense and I think you know this. The same argument can just as easily be made for the entirety of "Muslim thought", as well as "Christian thought", "Hindu thought", "Mormon thought", ect. Even Scientology may offer a smidgen of value to everyone, but I don't expect to see you extolling the virtues of Dianetics any time soon.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"To answer your question, I was raised to be an orthodox Jew, though I am not exactly sure how this is significant to our discussion"

Because it suggests a strange disconnect between what someone raised as an Orthodox Jew should be familiar with and the assumptions you are applying. I shouldn't need to explain the concept of the Jewish people being a nation and not merely a religion to someone raised Orthodox.

"Being proud of something you cannot control is quite different from identifying with something you are proud of."

That's true, but I'm sorry - I don't see the relevance. Pride in who you are is pride in who you are.

"Obviously, you would disagree with me since you seem to feel that Jewish identity can be bestowed upon people without their consent."

Um, yeah, I do. You can't change who your parents are/were. It's frankly bizarre that this would bother you. Why do you despise your own heritage so much?

"Okay good, now we are getting to specifics. What constitutes a "tradition Jewish" activity?"

I don't understand why you are belaboring this. If you were once an Orthodox Jew then you know what I'm talking about. If you have a point then just say it.

"So I will slightly alter my original question to you; Shouldn't technical "Jews" who raise their children with "weak" Jewish identities be of far greater concern to you?"

They are also of great concern to me, sure. What's your point?

"Yes, and the way you have understood this history is one of those strange ways. Deriving an identity from generations of dead men in a particular lineage who happen to have left behind some traceable marks of their existence is what many would refer to as bizarre."

Or maybe that's just one man's opinion. In general, it is a fact that most people derive their identities from their ancestry and their cultural mileu. It is the strange ones who reject that, in favor of...?

"It hardly matters what your purpose is, do you not see this as a likely consequence?"

No, because virtually all acts of teaching are laden with value judgements. It's silly to say that the only valid form of teaching is reciting facts while withholding interpretation.

"And how are you to know how complete your own education is? You almost undoubtedly are undereducated when it comes to other religions."

I don't follow. What's your point? Do you believe that many modern Jews are not profoundly ignorant of Judaism and their larger heritage?

"Yet you don't advocate that everyone in the world become Jewish."

I happen to think that it would be nice if peoples all across the world had interest in preserving their native cultures. It's sad to see the whole and varied world of human civilizations greying under the sameness of McDonalds and Coke.

"The same argument can just as easily be made for the entirety of "Muslim thought", as well as "Christian thought", "Hindu thought", "Mormon thought", ect. Even Scientology may offer a smidgen of value to everyone, but I don't expect to see you extolling the virtues of Dianetics any time soon."

Well Scientology is just a scam, and Mormonism is a tad on the goofy side, but yeah, all the great traditions of mankind ought to be preserved in some way so they can continue to offer their ideas fresh for generations to come. As it so happens, I do find much of Hindu thought to be quite fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I had a feeling I should have avoided answering your question about my background. Yes I obviously understand what orthodox people *claim*. They are a "people", the "twelve tribes" came from a single ancestor named Jacob, and childbirth pains are the result of the primordial woman eating a forbidden fruit. I don't "despise" my "heritage" and I am not giant fan of loaded questions either. Simply because I was raised orthodox does not mean I know what constitutes non-denominational "Jewish" activity.

"Pride in who you are is pride in who you are."

Maybe, but pride in *what* you are is not the same as pride in *who* you are.

"They are also of great concern to me, sure. What's your point?"
"I happen to think that it would be nice if peoples all across the world had interest in preserving their native cultures."

Actually I just misunderstood your position here. I see now that you are concerned with promoting any action that will increase the statistical likelihood of Judaism surviving. This was not clear to me because of your continued instance that it is the responsibility of those from certain biological lineages to maintain this "heritage". Of course, I hadn't realized that you think all people should preserve their "native cultures". I actually find this a much more interesting position.

"In general, it is a fact that most people derive their identities from their ancestry and their cultural mileu. It is the strange ones who reject that, in favor of...?"

It's seems that you are under the impression that I meant "unpopular" where I wrote "strange". In any event I would not conflate deriving part of an identity from ones community and upbringing with defining yourself through the folklore and historical narratives that many from that community hold to.

"No, because virtually all acts of teaching are laden with value judgements. It's silly to say that the only valid form of teaching is reciting facts while withholding interpretation."

I said no such thing. In fact I absolutely agree with you here. However, I would think that values such as "consistency", "clarity", "honesty", and so on, would play a larger role in proper education then values such as "standing for my religion".

"I don't follow. What's your point?"

That your argument actually works just as well *against* Judaism. In fact is supports absolutely any movement you do not have detailed knowledge of. My guess is that you would argue that your only concern is what your own "native culture" holds to, but I am quite fuzzy on how you have come to define the constitution of these "native cultures".

"Do you believe that many modern Jews are not profoundly ignorant of Judaism and their larger heritage?"

Why do you believe it is "their heritage"? It has obviously done almost nothing for them up until this point considering they they are "profoundly ignorant of Judaism".

"It's sad to see the whole and varied world of human civilizations greying under the sameness of McDonalds and Coke."

Yet you seem to advocate a generic brand of "Judaism" that is indifferent to "particular ideologies or levels of observance". If protecting diversity is so important then shouldn't every subbranch of Judaism be protected from more powerful, larger or more vocal branches that threaten to consume them? Shouldn't you only be promoting the specific brand of Judaism that your grandparents subscribed to? And shouldn't you only be promoting this to your direct relatives?

Anonymous said...

"Maybe, but pride in *what* you are is not the same as pride in *who* you are."

I am realizing that this wording just confuses my position. Really I have no problem with saying that pride in a chosen identity can be a good thing, depending on how the word "pride" is defined. I think the real problem is that I cannot see how avoiding intermarriage has anything to do with "pride". Or to put this another way, it seems to have more in common with "white pride" then it does with "black pride". I really don't mean this to be an accusation or offensive to you. I just can't see any other way of interpreting your use of this word.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Yes I obviously understand what orthodox people *claim*."

It also happens to be obviously true that being Jewish encompasses an identity beyond the religious, as our host, a Jewish atheist, demonstrates. Questions about origins or the accuracy of the patriarch stories are essentially irrelevant.

"However, I would think that values such as "consistency", "clarity", "honesty", and so on, would play a larger role in proper education then values such as "standing for my religion"."

I don't know what gave you the impression that I thought otherwise.

"In any event I would not conflate deriving part of an identity from ones community and upbringing with defining yourself through the folklore and historical narratives that many from that community hold to."

Culture is largely composed of stories and history. In fact, that may be a principle facet.

"That your argument actually works just as well *against* Judaism. In fact is supports absolutely any movement you do not have detailed knowledge of."

What does the goal of educating Jews about their heritage have any bearing on other movements or cultures? I don't understand your objection or how that goal works against Judaism. It's little different from the goal of wanting Americans to know American history and the philosophical foundations of democracy and the Constitution. Why would this be objectionable to you?

Sure, it would be nice if everyone in the world was familiar with the American heritage but we first ought to focus on actual Americans.

"Why do you believe it is "their heritage"?"

Because they are Jewish. Does the child of an assimilated Navajo couple have no special connection to Navajo history, culture, or the Navajo people? It's obvious that he does. His ignorance of where he comes from is ignorance of himself.

"If protecting diversity is so important then shouldn't every subbranch of Judaism be protected from more powerful, larger or more vocal branches that threaten to consume them? Shouldn't you only be promoting the specific brand of Judaism that your grandparents subscribed to? And shouldn't you only be promoting this to your direct relatives?"

It's not possible, nor even desirable to staunch natural change and evolution within a tradition. Indeed, it is the flowering of new ways of thought bourne out of conflict that truly makes a heritage tenacious. If Judaism was a static form it would have vanished from history like all the other ancient near eastern peoples and religions.

"I think the real problem is that I cannot see how avoiding intermarriage has anything to do with "pride"."

Going back a bit, because the concept of intermarrying for the sake of assimilation and thereby being protected from antisemitism is a pathetic effort. The proper response should be pride of who one is in the face of adversity, rather than kowtowing to violent pressure.

Anonymous said...

"It also happens to be obviously true that being Jewish encompasses an identity beyond the religious, as our host, a Jewish atheist, demonstrates."

All that this demonstrates is that Judaism is not a simplistic cultural entity like you keep insisting. You can be raised and surrounded by Jews and even have a 'Jewish' father, but a majority of orthodox Jews would consider you less "Jewish" then a 3rd generation Catholic who happen to have descended from a maternal line of 'Jews'.

"Culture is largely composed of stories and history. In fact, that may be a principle facet."

If that is the definition of culture you are looking for then okay, but let us apply it to this specific example. If history is to be considered a principle aspect of culture, then how can reform and orthodox Jews be considered part of the same culture? After all, the reform outlook on Jewish history has more in common with Christian academics then it does with Chardie mythology. Similarly, Charadie "stories" of significant rabbis are often nothing more hagiographic omens that are meant to enforce the legitimacy of their various sub-branches. How does this relate to a the stories that secular "Jews" define themselves with?

"What does the goal of educating Jews about their heritage have any bearing on other movements or cultures? "

What did I tell you? :)

"Why would this be objectionable to you? "

It wouldn't, I happen to place a very high value on history. On the other hand, a triumphalist account of various American historical events would hardly be considered "history" in my eyes. Your goal does not seem to be an education on Jewish history, but rather teaching children of certain lineages to value Jewish history. Even if you allow for a relatively impartial account of this history it does not follow that secular children which you consider "Jewish" should be forced to learn about rich and powerful ancient Israelites before studying a (large) number of other more relevant histories first.

"His ignorance of where he comes from is ignorance of himself."

You mean ignorance of where his parents came from? How is this ignorance of himself?

"It's not possible, nor even desirable to staunch natural change and evolution within a tradition."

You may as well write, "It's not possible, nor even desirable to staunch natural change and evolution within broader society." This is completely at odds with your agenda, which is the artificial retention of specific evolutionary branches. Even if it were not, this only goes to show how arbitrary your definition of "Judaism" is to begin with. Judaism isn't the specific set of concepts and ideals that influenced your grandparents, rather it is the ideas of powerful 'Jews' who colonized the hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of various sub-cultures, which in retrospect are labeled with the generic title "Judaism".

"If Judaism was a static form it would have vanished from history like all the other ancient near eastern peoples and religions."

The religions that were practiced in ancient Israel *have* vanished. The people who practiced these religions are dead.

"Going back a bit, because the concept of intermarrying for the sake of assimilation and thereby being protected from antisemitism is a pathetic effort."

I am not sure what to tell you, we have already been through this. I never claimed anything close to that statement and find it baffling that you ever managed to extract it from anything I wrote.

"The proper response should be pride of who one is in the face of adversity, rather than kowtowing to violent pressure."

Great so you take pride in being Jewish. What on Earth does that have to do with refusing to marry non-Jews?

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"All that this demonstrates is that Judaism is not a simplistic cultural entity like you keep insisting."

I never said it was a simplistic cultural entity. But it is culture that defines it in major form.

"You can be raised and surrounded by Jews and even have a 'Jewish' father, but a majority of orthodox Jews would consider you less "Jewish" then a 3rd generation Catholic who happen to have descended from a maternal line of 'Jews'."

Correct. And?

" If history is to be considered a principle aspect of culture, then how can reform and orthodox Jews be considered part of the same culture? After all, the reform outlook on Jewish history has more in common with Christian academics then it does with Chardie mythology. Similarly, Charadie "stories" of significant rabbis are often nothing more hagiographic omens that are meant to enforce the legitimacy of their various sub-branches. How does this relate to a the stories that secular "Jews" define themselves with?"

You are cherry picking differences while the essential trunk of shared Jewish history and narratives remains.

"Even if you allow for a relatively impartial account of this history it does not follow that secular children which you consider "Jewish" should be forced to learn about rich and powerful ancient Israelites before studying a (large) number of other more relevant histories first."

Where are you getting "forced" from? Or even children? If a person has an inkling of Jewish identity and wants to know what that means then he ought to learn Jewish history. Not only does that contribute to his education, it tends to strengthen his identity because then he understands more of the things we do today which reflect our past.

"You mean ignorance of where his parents came from? How is this ignorance of himself?"

In like form, if he has a hint of Navajo identity and he doesn't know what that means: so he doesn't know a part of himself.

"You may as well write, "It's not possible, nor even desirable to staunch natural change and evolution within broader society." This is completely at odds with your agenda, which is the artificial retention of specific evolutionary branches."

Except that I don't believe it artificial. A countermovement against a tide of assimilation is far different than trying to keep the various twigs of one tradition from interacting and growing.

"Even if it were not, this only goes to show how arbitrary your definition of "Judaism" is to begin with. Judaism isn't the specific set of concepts and ideals that influenced your grandparents, rather it is the ideas of powerful 'Jews' who colonized the hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of various sub-cultures, which in retrospect are labeled with the generic title "Judaism"."

I don't believe it arbitrary, but sure, I agree that it doesn't have sharp borders. Judaism has taken from and offered to the larger societies in which it finds itself. Judaism is the religious civilization of the Jewish people and every generation of Jews receives what has been wrought and adds to it in some way.

Judaism is more like a system than some theoretical ideal. Like your own physical body, you give and take all the time from the outside environment, indeed, you could not survive without the constant flow of material back and forth, and yet you maintain your own personal identity, do you not? Judaism is like a cell with a semipermeable membrane.

"The religions that were practiced in ancient Israel *have* vanished. The people who practiced these religions are dead."

And yet their legacy remains.

"I am not sure what to tell you, we have already been through this."

Yes, I know, that's why I said "going back a bit." My comments about pride vis a vis intermarriage were based on my previous understanding of your statements.

Anonymous said...

"But it is culture that defines it in major form." "Correct. And?"

The example I brought shows that even identified Jews can't agree regarding what constitutes a "culture". According to the 'culture informs identity' model you seem to be relying on, there is no reason why the Catholic with Jewish lineage should have an identity any more informed by Judaism then the "non-Jew" in the example. The reason that orthodox Jews would still consider JA a Jew, is not because they agree with your assessment about the relevance of "culture" but rather because they would see him as having a Jewish mother. Even if you want to claim that the orthodox also fall within your larger and more integral conception of a "culture", you are still going to have to give your own definition for what constitutes a Jew. Unless you can give a straightforward criteria for this you can't pretend there is any real meaning to the word "intermarriage".

"You are cherry picking differences while the essential trunk of shared Jewish history and narratives remains."

Here you go "greying under the sameness" of generic "Judaism" again. I wasn't giving you specific conveniently chosen examples, but instead a large chunk of their outlook on history and stories. These groups wouldn't even agree on who is considered a Jew!

"Where are you getting "forced" from? Or even children?"

That was implied from comments such as, "In the context of my concerns it only matters to me how the couple intends to raise the next generation."

"Not only does that contribute to his education, it tends to strengthen his identity because then he understands more of the things we do today which reflect our past."

If you replace the ethnocentric word "our" with the more generic "human" then I completely agree with you. I just happen to think Jewish history is very low on the list of things to educate oneself about, especially if that person has already been "assimilated" into another culture. To qualify this statement, I think learning some Ancient Near East history is absolutely integral for anyone who wishes to or has read the Bible.

"In like form, if he has a hint of Navajo identity and he doesn't know what that means: so he doesn't know a part of himself."

If this person is looking to examine every single hypothetical "hint" of an identity within him it is unlikely he will ever know even a quarter of himself.

"Except that I don't believe it artificial. A countermovement against a tide of assimilation is far different than trying to keep the various twigs of one tradition from interacting and growing."

You call it "growth" and "interaction" but these are just euphemisms for "change" and "assimilation".

"Judaism is the religious civilization of the Jewish people and every generation of Jews receives what has been wrought and adds to it in some way."

Is Judaism's dynamic nature giving you trouble defining it?

"Judaism is like a cell with a semipermeable membrane."

Great, but even cells have certain definable characteristics, so what makes up Judaism? You are attempting to bypass my argument about the diversity within "Judaism" by simply making the definition of Judaism more vague. But a vague blanket term is hardly a culture; it's just a way of "greying" a large amount of diversity.

"And yet their legacy remains."

Their "legacy" is retained by people who in all likelihood do not even slightly understand them. Instead, they hold onto the writings of a few certain Priests and royalty thinking it represented a "people" while in large ignoring the local customs of a majority of the peasantry.

Anonymous said...

"My comments about pride vis a vis intermarriage were based on my previous understanding of your statements."

Okay I see, I hadn't realized that is what you meant.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"The example I brought shows that even identified Jews can't agree regarding what constitutes a "culture"."

I never said that culture defines who is a Jew, but it does help define what is Judaism or rather what makes Jews distinct from non-Jews. The Jews have essentially acted like a national body without a territorial home for 2000 years. As such, we have our own body of laws, a system of self-regulation and a legal definition of what defines "citizenship." The legal definition of Jewish identity is one with a Jewish mother or one properly converted - not unlike US citizenship law which requires one to be born of American parentage, born within US territory, or to pass a test through naturalization.

Now, the USA also has a distinct culture. It also has distinct subcultures that are also uniquely American. Does any one culture within America have a claim to being THE proper culture of America? No - and yet they are all valid forms of the American people.

Also similarly, someone who does not hold valid American citizenship may be married to an American, feel very involved in US politics, concerns and public culture - and may even be raising very American kids - but they still ain't an American citizen. It's a legal matter. Same for Jews.

"Here you go "greying under the sameness" of generic "Judaism" again. I wasn't giving you specific conveniently chosen examples, but instead a large chunk of their outlook on history and stories."

And? Somehow they still identify each other as belonging to the same group. There is more that unites them than divides them.

"That was implied from comments such as, "In the context of my concerns it only matters to me how the couple intends to raise the next generation.""

Ah, well that's up to the couple at hand. It's rather melodramatic to make it seem like some fascist group is forcing the youth to sit through propaganda. It's the parents who are seeking cultural and historical enrichment for their children. Every viable civilization does this.

"If you replace the ethnocentric word "our" with the more generic "human" then I completely agree with you."

It's not ethnocentric, it's ethnoparticular.

"I just happen to think Jewish history is very low on the list of things to educate oneself about, especially if that person has already been "assimilated" into another culture."

If they're already lost to the Jewish future then it'd just be spitting into the wind.

Orthoprax said...

"You call it "growth" and "interaction" but these are just euphemisms for "change" and "assimilation"."

That's a matter of opinion.

"Is Judaism's dynamic nature giving you trouble defining it?"

I already did define it: Judaism is the collected works of the Jewish people over time. The point is that the works are not always consistent and that factions have existed and do exist among Jews today, so the reality defies definition in terms of particular principles or concepts.

"Great, but even cells have certain definable characteristics, so what makes up Judaism?"

The collective Jewish consciousness, as historically recorded and currently expressed. I can tell you all about large swaths of thought and big movements in terms of activity, but there will always be exceptions. Atheist Zionists and the Neturei Karta seem like exact opposites and yet they are brothers sitting on different branches of the same tree.

"Their "legacy" is retained by people who in all likelihood do not even slightly understand them. Instead, they hold onto the writings of a few certain Priests and royalty thinking it represented a "people" while in large ignoring the local customs of a majority of the peasantry."

Perhaps. But it was likely the writings of those few who distinguished a path different from others in the Near East. A path that has stood the test of time.

Anonymous said...

"Judaism is the collected works of the Jewish people over time."

This means that defining a "Jew" is far more important then defining "Judaism" since technically anything a "Jew" produces could be considered part of Judaism. Interestingly enough, despite all of your talk about "culture" it is ultimately a set of "legal" parameters which define Jewish status. Where do these set of 'laws' come from? You have already answered this , "Halacha" which "is grounded in religious persuasion". So we have come full circle, you are not defending a "culture" but rather a religion. Sure there may be a Jewish culture, but for you the only way to maintain this culture is produce a constant number of religiously defined "citizens".

"The legal definition of Jewish identity is one with a Jewish mother or one properly converted - not unlike US citizenship law which requires one to be born of American parentage, born within US territory, or to pass a test through naturalization."

The difference is that in America there is a single set of laws which define citizenship. You keep glossing over this point. It is not a minor detail that the orthodox do not accept conservative conversions.

"And? Somehow they still identify each other as belonging to the same group."

Not if one of them had a reform conversion! Even when they do it's simply a matter of overlap, they each have their own laws and often they happen to agree with each other. Anyways, isn't your agenda suppose to be protecting diversity?

"It's rather melodramatic to make it seem like some fascist group is forcing the youth to sit through propaganda."

That is what you read into words like "forced", I was simply referring to educational priorities.

"It's not ethnocentric, it's ethnoparticular."

Is that an actual word? I almost have to laugh at your rationalization though. It under the same vein as, "Refusing to do business with people from other races isn't racism, it's 'race-particularism!" It would be one thing if you were advocating that people try to learn about their family history, but clearly that is not what we are talking about.

"That's a matter of opinion."

That's not an argument. :)

"But it was likely the writings of those few who distinguished a path different from others in the Near East. A path that has stood the test of time."

This statement makes absolutely no sense to me, it even sounds a bit like a movie trailer. :) What on Earth is a "path" and how has it "stood the test of time"? The Pentateuch itself is written by multiple authors with a number of agendas, there is no single "path" advocated.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"So we have come full circle, you are not defending a "culture" but rather a religion. Sure there may be a Jewish culture, but for you the only way to maintain this culture is produce a constant number of religiously defined "citizens"."

You are making divisions where in reality none exist. Historically, the legal authority was in the hands of religious leaders and so it continued to be in their hands even as a government in absentia, but it remains a legal decision even if formed by a religious government and perhaps based on religious rationale.

The simple truth is that Judaism and the Jewish people form a complex relationship that cannot easily slip into the more familiar boxes of religion, nationality, ethnicity, and people.

"The difference is that in America there is a single set of laws which define citizenship. You keep glossing over this point. It is not a minor detail that the orthodox do not accept conservative conversions."

Indeed, it is a major problem and damaging to Jewish unity when different segments have different definitions of who is a Jew.

"Anyways, isn't your agenda suppose to be protecting diversity?"

Sure, but not at the cost of dissolution.

"Is that an actual word? I almost have to laugh at your rationalization though. It under the same vein as, "Refusing to do business with people from other races isn't racism, it's 'race-particularism!""

It's not a rationalization. Ethnocentrism promotes that idea that your culture is the only important one and everyone is relegated in importance according to their relationship to you. I am not promoting anything like that, but simply the idea that a given people with a given heritage ought to maintain itself by encouraging interest in its own heritage. A sense of identity doesn't equate into a sense of superiority.

"That's not an argument. :)"

You have to offer an argument in order for me to counter it.

"What on Earth is a "path" and how has it "stood the test of time"? The Pentateuch itself is written by multiple authors with a number of agendas, there is no single "path" advocated."

It is a path (or paths) that the Jewish people have walked together (sometimes peacefully, sometimes not) that have brought us together to these days.

Anonymous said...

"Historically, the legal authority was in the hands of religious leaders and so it continued to be in their hands even as a government in absentia,"

Yes this is the history of the rabbinical cult, which happened to rely on very different religious leaders then the priestly cult. Certain streams of religious "law" and "authority" only plays a small part in the larger history of Jewish cultures though.

"but it remains a legal decision even if formed by a religious government and perhaps based on religious rationale."

Under what jurisdiction is this "law" binding? Spin this any way you would like, it is religion we are talking about. (To paraphrase an old cereal slogan: If it's made by religion and enforced by religion, it's probably religion.) My next question would be, which particular set of laws are you defending?

"The simple truth is that Judaism and the Jewish people form a complex relationship that cannot easily slip into the more familiar boxes of religion, nationality, ethnicity, and people."

What is so complex here? You are defining "nationality, ethnicity, and people" all around the same legal/religious concept of "citizenship". There is no real value in using these terms since you do not beleive "nationality, ethnicity, and people" can be used to determine group membership. Although these terms may in reality denote a large number of cultural arrangements, here you are simply using them as flowery synonyms for any "person with Jewish religious status".

"Sure, but not at the cost of dissolution."

Dissolution of what? The theoretical generic "Judaism" which only exists as a "greying" of a large amount of diverse subcultures? Why wouldn't you be okay with that?

"I am not promoting anything like that, but simply the idea that a given people with a given heritage ought to maintain itself by encouraging interest in its own heritage."

Actually your argument is that religiously defined "Jews" should learn about the history of Judaism. I don't see this agenda as any different then what you would find in most other religions. As it happens many (if not most) religions are by their very nature embedded with a sense of superiority.

"You have to offer an argument in order for me to counter it."

How exactly is "growth" not a form of change? Similarly you were clearly using the word "interaction" to put a positive spin on the assimilation of various Jewish sub-branches. This was meant as a response to your claim that diversity within Judaism is somehow different from diversity outside of Judaism.

"It is a path (or paths) that the Jewish people have walked together (sometimes peacefully, sometimes not) that have brought us together to these days."

That is silly, considering that "Judaism" did not exist yet when these people were writing. It also does not seem to be correct, being that you cannot possibly consider battling sects and differentiated nations (beginning with the Israel-Judah divide) to be walking anywhere near each other.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Under what jurisdiction is this "law" binding?"

Common acknowledgment. In modern day everything is completely voluntary.

"Spin this any way you would like, it is religion we are talking about."

You could call it religion, but it could also simply be recognized as tradition.

"Although these terms may in reality denote a large number of cultural arrangements, here you are simply using them as flowery synonyms for any "person with Jewish religious status"."

You are the one calling it a religious status. How is it possible for an atheist to continue to identify as a Jew if his identity is purely a matter of religion? The widely understood reality is that being Jewish is not merely a matter of religion.

"Dissolution of what? The theoretical generic "Judaism" which only exists as a "greying" of a large amount of diverse subcultures? Why wouldn't you be okay with that?"

I actually don't know what you're talking about here. Judaism is a distinct path from the rest of the nations and I want to maintain its identity.

"Actually your argument is that religiously defined "Jews" should learn about the history of Judaism."

What is it that you believe? That Jewish peoplehood is a figment of religious propaganda? What a strange idea. Do you believe that even some atheists are fooled into thinking they are Jewish?

"I don't see this agenda as any different then what you would find in most other religions."

Since I think of Jews more as a national group with a shared religious tradition, I think my agenda is more akin to many tribes throughout the world who wish to maintain their cultures in the face of assimilation.

"As it happens many (if not most) religions are by their very nature embedded with a sense of superiority."

Which, by your own admission means that at least some are not.

"How exactly is "growth" not a form of change? Similarly you were clearly using the word "interaction" to put a positive spin on the assimilation of various Jewish sub-branches. This was meant as a response to your claim that diversity within Judaism is somehow different from diversity outside of Judaism."

As I said elsewhere, the sharing of ideas between Jewish movements means that the products are Jewish and are a continuation of Jewish tradition. This is quite different from introducing foreign traditions which is assimilation.

"That is silly, considering that "Judaism" did not exist yet when these people were writing."

But the Jewish people did.

"It also does not seem to be correct, being that you cannot possibly consider battling sects and differentiated nations (beginning with the Israel-Judah divide) to be walking anywhere near each other."

Yet in fact they were as we know from history that they shared ideas and resolved in each other over time.

Anonymous said...

"You could call it religion, but it could also simply be recognized as tradition."

So answer my question, which "tradition" are we talking about?

"How is it possible for an atheist to continue to identify as a Jew if his identity is purely a matter of religion?"
"What is it that you believe? That Jewish peoplehood is a figment of religious propaganda?"

Nothing prevents anyone from identifying with any group. On the other hand nothing prevents the group from rejecting this identification. If JA didn't have a Jewish mother his Judaism would not be accepted by religious Jews. There is also such a thing as cultural/ethnic Judaism, but it is not fenced in with citizenship "laws" and there is no therefore there is no straightforward way of defining an intermarriage.

"Judaism is a distinct path from the rest of the nations and I want to maintain its identity."

You mean a distinct genetic path. To you Jews are people with Jewish citizenship not people who follow the Jewish "path". Unless of course by "path" you are simply referring to people who follow these citizenship laws, but that would just be a tautology.

"I think my agenda is more akin to many tribes throughout the world who wish to maintain their cultures in the face of assimilation."

So far your agenda appears to be maintaining your tribe, with culture as a secondary concern.

"This is quite different from introducing foreign traditions which is assimilation."

So what? It's all natural growth. More importantly, you have already defined Judaism as a "cell with a semipermeable membrane", by definition this means that foreign elements are constantly being introduced.

"But the Jewish people did."

That is an after the fact invention by people who took up this identification.

"Yet in fact they were as we know from history that they shared ideas and resolved in each other over time."

Well that is one way of whitewashing history.

Baconeater said...

The biggest danger to the future generations of Jews is science (archaeological discovery, etc.).
The realization that the Flood is just a story, and that the Exodus could never have happened.

These facts lead people away from the Abrahamic God at least, and probably every God.

Jews tend to be well educated, and education and superstitious belief in Fairy Tales are a bad match.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"So answer my question, which "tradition" are we talking about?"

Jewish tradition. Any Jew of any stripe you meet would easily recognize what is meant by Jewish tradition since modern movements define themselves by how far they veer from tradition.

"There is also such a thing as cultural/ethnic Judaism, but it is not fenced in with citizenship "laws" and there is no therefore there is no straightforward way of defining an intermarriage."

Sure, such people share the fringe borderlands. So what? There's also no straightforward way of defining the border between planet Earth and outer space. How far into the atmosphere must one go may be a rather arbitrary line, but that doesn't mean there's no real difference between Earth and space.

"You mean a distinct genetic path."

No I don't. People can convert into Judaism.

"To you Jews are people with Jewish citizenship not people who follow the Jewish "path". Unless of course by "path" you are simply referring to people who follow these citizenship laws, but that would just be a tautology."

A "Jew" has Jewish "citizenship." But the core and the future of the Jewish people relies on those with strong identities and active in Jewish activities; the culture.

"So far your agenda appears to be maintaining your tribe, with culture as a secondary concern."

The culture is the tribe. It's both.

"So what? It's all natural growth. More importantly, you have already defined Judaism as a "cell with a semipermeable membrane", by definition this means that foreign elements are constantly being introduced."

Sure, but it's all about the rate and process of introduction. Too little and we lose relevance and relationship with the rest of the world. Too much and we lose ourselves to it. A membrane too thick and the cell may both starve and choke on its own juices, with no membrane it will dissolve quickly in a thinning pool of metabolism.

"That is an after the fact invention by people who took up this identification."

Really now? You believe there was no tribal identity before the Torah text?

"Well that is one way of whitewashing history."

I'm not whitewwashing, I'm just saying that past battle between brothers contributed to the combined heritage we have today.

Anonymous said...

"Any Jew of any stripe you meet would easily recognize what is meant by Jewish tradition since modern movements define themselves by how far they veer from tradition."

Lol, even Jews of the same denomination can't agree on this so-called "tradition". Really though, lets hear the specifics for intermarriage laws, what does the "tradition" say?

"How far into the atmosphere must one go may be a rather arbitrary line, but that doesn't mean there's no real difference between Earth and space."

Of course it does, these sort of divisions are always defined pragmatically. "Space" itself is not a very clear concept, is it a location (as in, "the Earth exists in outer space) or a category of substances (as in, "there is a real difference between Earth's atmosphere and space")? In a more metaphysical sense, is it substantival or relational?

"No I don't. People can convert into Judaism."

So it's a genetic path with exceptions.

"A "Jew" has Jewish "citizenship." But the core and the future of the Jewish people relies on those with strong identities and active in Jewish activities; the culture."

Yes I understand this, for you culture is simply a tool for retaining more citizens over time. This is not an argument against my previous point which was that you are using religious laws to define Jewishness and not adherence to any "path" or culture.

"The culture is the tribe. It's both."

You must realize how ridiculous that sounds. In your last comment you claimed that you wanted your tribe to maintain its culture. If the culture is the tribe then I am correct in that your goal is simply to maintain the tribe. The word culture here would just be another tautology.

"A membrane too thick and the cell may both starve and choke on its own juices, with no membrane it will dissolve quickly in a thinning pool of metabolism."

This colorful metaphor explains exactly why your amalgamated concept of "Judaism" (which is really just a collection of independent "cells" or sub-branches) is not a feasible entity. To tear away the boundaries between these cells would destroy them all.

"Really now? You believe there was no tribal identity before the Torah text?"

The tribal identities that existed then have little if anything to do with the modern religious identification of Judaism. Honestly, if you have studied this history at all (which I am sure you must have) then I am not sure why you would find this contestable.

"I'm just saying that past battle between brothers contributed to the combined heritage we have today."

That is very different from stating that all of these people followed a premeditated "path" which continues within the Judaism we have today.

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

"Lol, even Jews of the same denomination can't agree on this so-called "tradition". Really though, lets hear the specifics for intermarriage laws, what does the "tradition" say?"

I don't understand why you seek to belabor everything. You know all of this full well already. Jews of different denominations agree on what has been traditionally understood.

"Of course it does, these sort of divisions are always defined pragmatically."

Um, ok sure. So Jews are different from non-Jews in the same way that the Earth differs from outer space.

"So it's a genetic path with exceptions."

It has nothing to do with genetics except as coincidence.

"You must realize how ridiculous that sounds. In your last comment you claimed that you wanted your tribe to maintain its culture. If the culture is the tribe then I am correct in that your goal is simply to maintain the tribe. The word culture here would just be another tautology."

The culture shows what is distinct about the tribe and without a unique culture the tribe means nothing. One cannot be preserved without the other.

"Yes I understand this, for you culture is simply a tool for retaining more citizens over time."

That is not correct.

"This is not an argument against my previous point which was that you are using religious laws to define Jewishness and not adherence to any "path" or culture."

Except, as I already said, it is not simply a matter of religion.

"This colorful metaphor explains exactly why your amalgamated concept of "Judaism" (which is really just a collection of independent "cells" or sub-branches) is not a feasible entity. To tear away the boundaries between these cells would destroy them all."

First of all I never proposed doing that, and secondly I suspect that even if that did happen, some viable form of Judaism would still persist.

"The tribal identities that existed then have little if anything to do with the modern religious identification of Judaism."

It's a direct line of identification from Hebrews to Israelites to Judeans to Jews. I don't know why you contest that. Even among modern Jews, you doubtlessly know, as we have gone over several times already, their identity is not purely a religious one.

"That is very different from stating that all of these people followed a premeditated "path" which continues within the Judaism we have today."

Ok, but I didn't say that. I was referring to a starting point that has set a path for future generations to trod.

Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why you seek to belabor everything. You know all of this full well already. "

You are claiming there is a single "tradition", well then I want to know what this "tradition" says about intermarriage and Jewish status laws. I think you are avoiding this question because you know it will place you within a single denomination and you will no longer be able to claim you are defending a generalized "Judaism".

"So Jews are different from non-Jews in the same way that the Earth differs from outer space."

Exactly, the distinction is arbitrary and based on local considerations. Good luck defining an "intermarriage" within this context.

"It has nothing to do with genetics except as coincidence."

Actually I am sort of curious then, how is Jewish status transmitted through birth if not through genetics? I find this somewhat of a mystery considering that the manner in which a child is raised does not influence Jewish legal status.

"The culture shows what is distinct about the tribe and without a unique culture the tribe means nothing."

Cultures do not exist to "show" anything and the tribes do not exist to "mean" anything. A tribe is distinct in that it encompasses different individuals then other tribes, it is meaningful in this sense. Your statement makes a lot more sense if it is referring to a religion: "The religion shows what is distinct about people who identify with this religion and without being a unique religion identifying with this religion means nothing."

"Except, as I already said, it is not simply a matter of religion."

You keep hopping around here. Religion defines "citizenship" so we are talking about a religion. If culture or adherence to a "path" were to define citizenship we would be talking about a culture or a path. You can't have it both ways.

"First of all I never proposed doing that, and secondly I suspect that even if that did happen, some viable form of Judaism would still persist."

I never claimed that you proposed "that" in reality (what through an act of force?), only that you were already doing "that" abstractly. Now you are admitting that through the imposition of your abstraction (of a generic Judaism) onto reality, the very nature of the religion would be changed (a pretty good sign that your theoretical entity does not actually exist.)

"It's a direct line of identification from Hebrews to Israelites to Judeans to Jews."

And you claim these people all follow/followed the same "path"? Remember, this is suppose to be the "path" that both distinguished these ANE people from others and "stood the test of time".

"I was referring to a starting point that has set a path for future generations to trod."

How does a starting point "set a path"? Either it is a path or it is a starting point. I am not quite sure how you can turn a "starting point" that has 'been developed into a path over time' into a "path that has stood the test of time".

Anonymous said...

Something from a semi-outsider: I'm sure many non-Jews who are marrying Jews want to convert or have thought about it. However, I think they will be more comfortable converting if conversion is more acceptable - especially to people who are non-white. I'm Asian. As I live in a big city, I have not once in my 30 years of existence been questioned about the validity of my Catholicness, but I KNOW that even in a city as diverse as Toronto or New York, people will question my Jewishness if I converted. I have actually heard sad stories about Chinese adoptees having a hard time in Hebrew school because the other kids don't believe that they're Jewish (Jews may come in all shades and colours globally, but in North America, they're overwhelmingly white.) Would they have that problem at a Christian school? Maybe, but it's not as likely.

Anonymous said...

^^^ semi-outsider because I'm engaged to a Jew.