tue_troy.jpg

tue_poupko.jpgIn Gil Troy’s lecture–still going on as I type this–there was much conversation about contemporary expressions of Jewishness. Harvard Hillel Rabbi Avi Poupko challenged us to create positive statements about why we’re Jewish. There isn’t time in a lecture for everyone to express their own particular mode of identification with being Jewish, but let’s use the webspace to discuss this.

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Why are YOU Jewish?

Cross Posted from ROI120 Blog

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

10 Comments

  • I am Jewish because I am a thinker, a philospher and at the same time one who gives way to laughter. And I love pickled herring, even if I won’t admit it in public.

  • My gut reaction? I am Jewish because I have no choice. At birth, there might have been a choice. But education, family, environment etc inculcated me with a sense of my Jewishness so innate that even if I wanted to find them, I could not even find the methods to reject it all. That doesn’t sound like the most enthusiastic or optimistic response, but it’s kind of where I am. I can’t date non-Jews, or even non-observant Jews, even if I wanted to, and it’s tempting, believe me.

    My being Jewish is molecular, protoplasmic, or hematocritical (or something else biologically intrinsic) and flows through me whether or not I want it to. So I’m going with the flow.

  • I am Jewish because there are still anti-semites out there… and even though I am just a cultural Jew (never was observent) the anti-semites would still come for me… however, with my freedom to carry arms… 🙂

    When I was in grammer school in NYC, I basically settled on my atheistic theology… however, the anti-semites still continued to attemp to assault me as a Jew… So it did not matter…at the end once born a Jew ALWAYS a Jew no matter what…so, I enjoy my cultural connection to being Jewish whilst I still work on perfecting my atheistic theology…a lifetimes work! 🙂

  • I would argue with the question.

    Why are YOU Jewish?

    Based upon the definition of “Jewish,” the reasons would be different even for the same person.

    If you define it as G-d given, G-d involved service, then halacha is a likely answer.

    If you define it as culture, then gastronomic Judaism is a likely answer.

    If you define it as a martyr-complex, then anti-semitism (actually, a more correct formation would be “anti-Jewism,” but that term is difficult to use) might define your Jewishness.

    If you are historically minded, then the holocaust might define your Jewishness.

    If you are nationalistic (including Zionistic), then the State of Israel might make you Jewish.

    Also, the question never defines what it is asking for. Does it mean “what makes you Jewish?” or “what makes you feel Jewish?”

    Unfortunately, like most feel-good pop psychology, the initial question is meaningless.

  • My mother is Jewish so I’m Jewish whether I like it or not or want to rebel against it or not or like matzah balls or falafel or not. It’s that simple. It’s inescapable.

  • I’m Jewish because somebody’s gotta be.

    I do believe that the world does need Jews. Humanity will always need, and benefit from, those who are willing to put principles, the long term, and “something greater” before their own short term needs and desires. Humans have the remarkable ability to slip into self-serving, here-and-now, instant gratifaction mode. Judaism, for me, is the exact opposite: a system that takes even the most mundane of actions (a squeeze of the sponge on Shabbat, perhaps) and forces us to do them in a way that means more, sees farther, and recognizes that humans are not the be-all, end-all of the universe.

    I am a Jew because when Hashem told Avraham to leave his comfortable life and go to lands unknown, it was not for fame or glory, not for comfort or ease, and not to even to mystically meditate on the divine. No, it was to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. That’s my job. I don’t always know how the things that I do achieve that goal. But I know that I must try.

    That’s why I’m a Jew.

  • “I am a Jew because when Hashem told Avraham to leave his comfortable life and go to lands unknown, it was not for fame or glory, not for comfort or ease, and not to even to mystically meditate on the divine. No, it was to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. That’s my job. I don’t always know how the things that I do achieve that goal. But I know that I must try.

    That’s why I’m a Jew.”

    And this is why the world will come to the light that you are! Very, very well said!

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