Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Jewish Olympics

In my warped way of thinking sometimes I believe we are having one....
Who is really Jewish, are you Jewish enough?  yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.
This is a part of Judaism that I just don't get yet.  There seems to be a competition of some sort going on between Reform vs Orthodox, between who was born of a Jewish mother or a father, there are even nasty Yiddish words for it.  Just read Chaim Potok's "The Chosen" where they refer to Apikorsim.   Apikorsim are what Hasidim refer to as Jewish goyim, or secular Jews.
I just got done reading my Rabbi's blog on who is an authentic Jew?  http://rabbiyair.blogspot.com/2009/12/what-does-it-mean-to-be-really-jewish.html#comments
Well, first of all I think this question is up for debate, but then why are we really tearing ourselves down as a people anyway trying to answer it?  In Reform Judaism, everything is up for debate and that is part of why it works for intelligent people.  It really isn't the opiate of the masses, because there is too much turmoil for it to work as an opiate.
So we are trying not to assimilate and lose ourselves as a people, but I see us tearing ourselves up as a people.  I liberally include myself in this as I really don't see me reversing my conversion process.   I also truly believe that Jewish people need to look out for each other.

Here's my laundry list/whining list:
a. Thank you, Chabad http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3002/jewish/How-Does-One-Convert-to-Judaism.htm    If you can read this article and not be discouraged then you are a better person than me.  In fact it is quite frankly a little confusing and since I respect Hispanic people, I thought it was a little tacky using a guy named Juan as an example.
b.  The kosher competition...
I keep as kosher as I can.  I no longer eat pork or shell fish, I occasionally do mix milk and meat together, but I try to limit it as much as I can.  There are no Kosher restaurants in my town.  I do the best I can out of respect for my faith and G-d, not because I think someone maybe watching or that I will be punished by G-d for some sort of food faux pas.
However, I know someone that has 2 dishwasher baskets so that he can change them for his 4 sets of dishes.  He exceeds the required 2, I believe the third is for his son who doesn't keep kosher, I guess the fourth is for Shabbat or Passover.
Also, I forgot to mention this guy is a surgeon...news flash you are using the same dishwasher..so even if the dishes aren't touching the sides of the dishwasher, the water from the meat and the milk is still all over the dish washer.  If you can keep a sterile field during surgery, um, I don't think you have to be Einstein to figure this out.
c.  Snide comments,  Rabbi So and So doesn't like converts.  Well then, thank G-d, he isn't my Rabbi.  This is something I heard in one of my Intro to Judaism classes.  Oh, this Rabbi is also the only Rabbi in town not participating in Intro to Judaism classes.
d.  Reform people who slam the Orthodox....some of them are my best friends, too.  I hate to tell you this there are informative things I have found and used for study on Orthodox websites.
e.  Orthodox who slam Reform, "Your synagogue doesn't have services in Hebrew do they?"
In sum, we have plenty of enemies, which is why my grandmother kept my heritage locked in a draw somewhere for so long, so why are we doing this to each other?

My plan, say the Sh'ma, go to bed and be the best I personally can.  I am not in a competition this way.
17th of Tevet, 5770 / י״ז בטבת תש״ע
P.S.  Alysa Stanton, I have great respect for you, I doubt you had an easy time getting to be the first female black rabbi in this sea of controversy.


  1. I agree with you. And I will admit this arguing over who really is Jewish and who isn't makes me nervous. I can understand the Orthodox side to a point...but still, the bickering back and forth is relentless!!

    On Kosher. Ugh. I do get confused. Why have separate compartments when all the water is the same? That doesn't make sense. I will admit I don't quite understand the purpose of having separate sinks,ovens,refrigerators, etc.

  2. Kathy, I have a question for you and I don't see a place to send an email? I am meeting with five different Rabbi's in my area in regards to conversion consideration and I'm not sure what questions I should ask them up front? I thought you may have an idea. If you have time to give me some advice I would sooooo appreciate it. You could just comment on my page if you'd like.

  3. Some kashrut comments from a person who keeps a kosher kitchen, but has only kept fully separate dishes and cookware for just over a year (but before that we still kept meat and dairy separate, ate only meat that was rabbinically supervised, etc) :

    If you have only one sink, like I do, and you wash both milk and meat dishes in it, the sink surfaces themselves become "treif". So you either have to use separate racks or (more stringently) separate dish pans so that your kosher dishes don't touch your treif sink.

    I have only one oven as well, but my rabbi says there is no problem switching between meat and dairy dishes being cooked as long as you do not put them together in the oven. More stringent rulings require more heating or cooling or not using the oven for a certain amount of time between different types, so it might not be difficult to have only one oven.

    There are different standards about using the same dishwasher for both milk and meat. Some lenient views say that soap makes the food into non-food, and even allow dishes of different types to be washed in the same load. Some rabbis require one or even two empty dishwasher cycles to switch. I don't have to worry because I bought a double drawer dishwasher which is basically two separate dishwashers fitting into the space of one. My Orthodox friends have two separate full-sized dishwashers or wash one type of dishes by hand.

    Separate refrigerators are not *required* by any rabbis that I know of because the different foods don't touch or mix in the refrigerator. Some kosher kitchens have two refrigerators for convenience and to furgther keep meat/dairy separate or to store enough food for very large Orthodox families.

    I currently have six sets of dishes: Non-Passover meat, dairy, and formal dairy, plus Passover meat, dairy, and formal meat. It's kind of complicated how it came to be like that. I expect to eventually inherit a set of dishes that I will use for non-Passover formal meat.

    I know this sounds crazy if you don't keep kosher, but although I justified the large expense and effort of making my kitchen kosher by saying that it would allow us to invite more observant friends for meat meals (we had kosher dairy dishes and cookware for that purpose already) and for Passover (although some still cannot "eat by us" during Passover), I have found that it feels good to have a kosher kitchen because it allows me to reaffirm my commitment to Judaism every time I have to choose which plate or pot to use. I am a convert and take that commitment very seriously.

  4. I think I got a bit carried away on the kashrut rant. I have no problem with people who keep kosher. I just don't like it when it becomes almost a contest rather than a personal matter. Besides Debbie, I feel I know you a little bit from the JBC forum so I doubt you would use your dishes against me.
    A better example of this was being out on a date more recently. One of my JBB friends was so intimidated by my lack of pork and shellfish, he didn't order what he really wanted and confessed to me afterwards.
    In the case of the surgeon, that conversation was more or less, I felt a little bit of a put down. He has a son who is involved in Chabad. Our Chabad chapter has really anti-convert reputation, although I don't think everyone in Chabad is like this.