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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:13 pm 
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Thanks, nel! One question: do you think it would it be fair to say that even amongst Orthodox Jews, congregations are less likely to be as virulently anti-homosexual as the more conservative Christian ones often are?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:41 pm 
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No. I think it is more correct to say that the most hardcore Christian conservatives get more negative publicity than the most hardcore Jewish Orthodoxes. I think that is the main difference.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
No. I think it is more correct to say that the most hardcore Christian conservatives get more negative publicity than the most hardcore Jewish Orthodoxes. I think that is the main difference.


This is a slight change of topic, but I have always wanted this clarified: is it the Ultra-Orthodox and/or Hasidic Jews where the women wear wigs? Do they shave their heads first? Or wear wigs over their own hair? Why? Or is this something I'm mixed up about?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:27 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
No. I think it is more correct to say that the most hardcore Christian conservatives get more negative publicity than the most hardcore Jewish Orthodoxes. I think that is the main difference.


So you think that there are synagogues out there preaching some equivalent of the "God hates f*gs" message?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:33 pm 
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Yov, as nel said, you would usually find most Reform and many Conservative congregations accepting of same-sex couples. This constitutes about half the Jewish population in the U.S. according to my quick google, or about 80% of Jews who consider themselves religious if my math is correct based on the following.

from here wrote:
Eleven percent of American Jews defined themselves as Orthodox in the 1970 study, or approximately 600,000 people. That figure has remained relatively consistent. The Conservative movement claims 1,250,000 and the Reform slightly more. Taking those figures together would give us approximately 3.1 million religiously affiliated Jews, which comes closer to the estimates of synagogue membership. The other 1.25 million may include approximately 250,000 who are members of Reconstructionist, traditional and other small movement or nonmovement affiliated congregations and many who consider themselves religious without really identifying with any one of the Jewish religious streams.


My own Reform congregation does a lot of outreach toward the gay community, and I've met several two-mom families at my son's preschool.

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
No. I think it is more correct to say that the most hardcore Christian conservatives get more negative publicity than the most hardcore Jewish Orthodoxes. I think that is the main difference.


It might help to clarify what you mean by hardcore. All the Haredi Orthodox? Modern Orthodox as well? Just the fringe? And who are the hardcore Christian conservatives?

As far as the negative publicity being directed at the Christian conservatives, consider the difference in both the percentage of U.S. population that is represented by the most "hardcore" Jewish Orthodox compared to the fundamentalist Christians, and also the percentage of all who belong to Jewish faith who are "hardcore" Orthodox vs. "hardcore" Christian. In 2006, just over 2% of the U.S. population were "Jewish" of any description, according to numbers on Wiki, and 11% of Jews describe themselves as Orthodox of any description (see above).

Even more significantly, while Jewish Orthodox fundamentalists may share similar social values as the Christian fundamentalists, they are much less vocal in imposing their religious values on the secular life in politics. The reasons are obvious - as a religious minority they are likely to find their own interests curtailed should the separation of church and state be eroded, and also they tend to live in fairly insular communities.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:41 pm 
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vison, re- wigs. I am pretty sure married Hassidic women wear them, and probably some Ultra-Orthodox as well, or else cover their heads with something else when in public. I don't think they shave their heads! Why they do it? Hair is considered a woman's ornament, her "crown", and is therefore shown only to the husbands.

The Modern Orthodox Jewish women I know do not wear wigs, but may cover their heads in the synagogue. There is a wide range of customs in that group.

yovargas wrote:
So you think that there are synagogues out there preaching some equivalent of the "God hates f*gs" message?


I don't think "G-d hates X" is a big part of Jewish message anywhere, although I'm sure there are lunatics in every population. It goes to the center of how religious Jews and Christians perceive God, and sin, and redemption, and universe and everything.

But it's a long post.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:48 pm 
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A long and fascinating post, I imagine. . . . :poke:

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:50 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
No. I think it is more correct to say that the most hardcore Christian conservatives get more negative publicity than the most hardcore Jewish Orthodoxes. I think that is the main difference.


Speaking about Orthodox Jews in the US, my instinct is to disagree with this (as I said, the furthest-right of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel do seem as extreme as you describe.) I went to Orthodox services on a regular basis in Massachusetts as the state was legalizing same-sex marriage in 2003-04, and it just didn't come up. There was no lobbying against gay marriage, no reminders that gay conduct was forbidden, no organizing for rallies or collections for anti-gay causes mentioned. (NB As for the last, the Orthodox do not handle money on Shabbat, but again, the matter was not even mentioned.) The same was certainly not true of conservative Christian groups at the same time in Massachusetts, who were virulently and politically overtly opposed to gay equality.

Although I will no longer attend Orthodox services for feminist reasons, I have continued to socialize intermittently in majority-Orthodox religious-social scenarios like Shabbat meals (both in the US and UK), and I just haven't encountered overt hostility to homosexuality. Even when I've brought up my participation in a majority-gay synagogue or sexuality-inclusive language, it's not been met with more prejudice than, "Oh, that's a progressive thing; we don't do that." (We heard the same response today, when a male attendee of our Shabbat lunch asked the rabbi why he wasn't saying the names of the Matriarchs in Birkat Hamazon, the Grace After Meals.) Rabbi Steven Greenberg is openly gay and is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi.

This is not to say that the Orthodox are gay-friendly. I've heard rare reports of same-sex couples attending Orthodox services in San Francisco, but I think that for such couples to do so openly would be an exception even in the Bay Area. There was a controversy last year in New Jersey where a Jewish newspaper printed a same-sex wedding announcement. The Orthodox freaked out, so the newspaper apologized and deleted the announcement online. We liberals then all freaked out, so the newspaper quasi-apologized for apologizing and promised to think about it some more.

I'm pretty certain that many Orthodox parents would not easily accept a child's coming out (though some ultimately do). Orthodox men still thank their deity every morning for not having made them a woman, so they lag far enough beyond on gender equality that sexual orientation equality can seem lightyears away. A member of an Orthodox congregation coming out would have a difficult time. Orthodox Judaism - heck, Judaism broadly - does not offer a gay utopia.

But, I maintain that the American Orthodox Jewish community has not focused on legally discriminating against gays in the same manner as much of the Christian right. I maintain that it would be extremely unusual to go to an Orthodox service in the US and be invited to start participating in anti-gay rights activism or to vote against gay rights. The same is not true in many churches belonging to the Christian right, which have been used for anti-gay political organizing. And if you can point to material to the contrary, V, I'd be interested to see it.

ETA Part of the reason that I can "religiously socialize" with the Orthodox is that a whole lot of Orthodox people manage not to pressure guests/participants to be like them. No tenet of Orthodox Judaism prescribes that the whole world should live like them or believe the things that they do. That itself is the most powerful, right-minded idea in the world. The attitude I've gotten from a lot of Orthodox people is, "This is how we live. If you want to play in our sandbox, you're welcome if you follow our rules. Or you can go play in that other sandbox and we'll respect that and won't bother you." And that's ... just a very powerful thing for me. The truth is that I can disagree with the Orthodox with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, and I do. But what I have encountered from many of the Orthodox I've socialized with is a refreshing, non-proselytizing sort of mutual respect. And so long as they respect my sandbox, then I'll respect theirs - and even accept their invitation to play in theirs, occasionally, in some contexts, with gratitude.

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But still I rise
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Last edited by nerdanel on Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:52 pm 
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Long, anyway. :D And of course both Jewish and Christian religious thought is so diverse that one would have to make some broad generalizations, which would not apply to some subsets of both groups.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:58 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
of course both Jewish and Christian religious thought is so diverse that one would have to make some broad generalizations, which would not apply to some subsets of both groups.


This.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:15 pm 
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nerdanel wrote:
There was a controversy last year in New Jersey where a Jewish newspaper printed a same-sex wedding announcement. The Orthodox freaked out, so the newspaper apologized and deleted the announcement online. We liberals then all freaked out, so the newspaper quasi-apologized for apologizing and promised to think about it some more.


That sounds like one of those "I either laugh or cry" kinda stories and in this case I think I'll laugh. :P

nerdanel wrote:
Orthodox men still thank their deity every morning for not having made them a woman...


WImageHImageAImageTImage??
You can't possibly be serious???????

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:45 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
nerdanel wrote:
There was a controversy last year in New Jersey where a Jewish newspaper printed a same-sex wedding announcement. The Orthodox freaked out, so the newspaper apologized and deleted the announcement online. We liberals then all freaked out, so the newspaper quasi-apologized for apologizing and promised to think about it some more.


That sounds like one of those "I either laugh or cry" kinda stories and in this case I think I'll laugh. :P


Here's the source for that, btw. The comments are mostly very good and are worth skimming: http://www.jstandard.com/content/item/a ... _standard/

Quote:
nerdanel wrote:
Orthodox men still thank their deity every morning for not having made them a woman...


WImageHImageAImageTImage??
You can't possibly be serious???????


I had to smile when I read your response. I had the same reaction when I learned about it at 13. It's funny how years of being acculturated to a form of prejudice can sort of desensitize you to it. I obviously find it very offensive that they say that, but I haven't retained the shock of your reaction. When I think about the fact that Orthodox men I know say that prayer, it really bothers me, so I try not to think about it too much. For me, the key really is the lack of proselytizing - if they were going around trying to convince other men to say it, I would be extremely hostile to them. I admit to some serious concern about the girls (and boys, too), raised in that world. I wonder what it would be like to be a girl whose brothers say that prayer...to watch my brothers have bar mitzvah ceremonies whilst my religious coming of age is relatively ignored...to be deprived of opportunities for Jewish study offered to boys...to be told that I could never lead a religious service or have an aliyah to the Torah even as I watched the male members of my families do those things. Essentially, as a feminist child from the get-go (who was telling parish priests at age 6 that they needed to be ordaining women), I think I would have done extremely badly in that world and might have found some aspects of it to be psychologically violent. (I'm typing stream of consciousness here because this is on my mind after watching the young Jewish girls running around today's lunch. Of course, I don't know how their parents will raise them and what options for Jewish study they will have at home, but I know that their ability to participate in the ritual life of their congregation will be extremely minimal so long as they are Orthodox.) But Orthodox Jewish children in the US seem to be more or less raised in physical safety by parents who can provide for them and ensure they are well-educated, which means that they're doing better than much of the rest of the world's children. And they'll have other Jewish options when they come of age, if they want them then.

Anyway, many of the men who say the prayer give an oddly feminist explanation that I find disingenuous. They essentially say that men have many more mitzvot (commandments) than women (who have only three, all of which are concerned with home and family), because women are of a higher spiritual plane and thus need fewer mitzvot to "keep them in line" on a routine basis. But since we are all to be grateful for G-d's commandments, the men must thank G-d for having given them so many!

So you'd think, on that theory, that women would be busily thanking G-d for not having made them men, and thus of a lower spiritual plane. ;) But au contraire, they thank G-d for having created them according to (His) will. (Again, if men are of an allegedly lower spiritual plane, then why G-d is referred to in the vernacular with male pronouns is quite perplexing.) Anyway, I challenged this one as a teenager by explaining to some Orthodox people that I was definitely on a lower spiritual plane than most of them, both the men and the women, and thus needed many more mitzvot such that I needed to join in with the guys. It didn't work.

Another explanation given by proponents of the prayer is that women can't be obligated by time-sensitive mitzvot because of the demands of family and children. So they have fewer mitzvot, again, and the men have to give thanks for their greater number. This introduces another area in which I find the Orthodox explanation to be problematic and disingenuous (I did say I disagreed with the fiery passion of a thousand suns). Given the extent to which their lifestyles are gendered, it makes sense to "exempt" women from mitzvot during child-rearing years since they have primary responsibility for family/childcare/housework. But it seems that before and after those years, women should have the same ritual responsibilities as men, and indeed, most of the relevant commandments are not explicitly gendered in the Torah. The gendered gloss was placed on them later, by male rabbis, who considered themselves to be on a sufficiently high spiritual plane to make sweeping proclamations about women's ritual responsibilities. ;)

Oh boy, I'm realizing that if I get started on the Orthodox, I'll keep going for a good long while...

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I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:03 pm 
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Wow. That's awful. :neutral:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:48 am 
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yovargas wrote:
nerdanel wrote:
Orthodox men still thank their deity every morning for not having made them a woman...


WImageHImageAImageTImage??
You can't possibly be serious???????


Well... I am not Orthodox for a myriad reasons, but - TMI ALERT - this week I really think they have a point, on this subject.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:02 am 
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Aww, Frelga, sorry to hear that. It took me a moment to figure that out. Partly because it's 3 AM here and why am I still awake? ;) (Stupid daylight savings time kicked in in England just now - it was supposed to be 2 AM...)

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:49 pm 
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I've been looking for a version of this story to share here without typing it up, and came across it on TV Tropes, of all places. I adore it for being such a quintessential example of how Jews deal with God.

Quote:
There's also a story of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, a prominent (and extremely conservative) Roman era rabbi, trying to convince the Sanhedrin that he was in the right about a particular kind of oven being impervious to Levitical uncleanness. Even when overruled, he managed to call on various signs from the natural world (trees, a stream, the beams of the Sanhedrin building) to show [miraculously] he was in the right. Each time, the Sanhedrin dismissed the sign as the sign-bearer stepping outside of its jurisdiction. Finally, Eliezer beseeched God himself to step in...which he did, identifying Eliezer as correct about the oven being tamei-proof. Cue the Sanhedrin head rebuking God for this, even quoting Deuteronomy to the effect that the demands of the law put jurisdiction only among the rabbis; "it is not in the heavens". Let that sink in; the rabbis dismissed God for overstepping his legal bounds. Best part? Immediately afterwards, at the throne of Heaven, God was laughing with delight, saying "My children have defeated me, my children have defeated me!".

More here: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JewsLoveToArgue

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:43 pm 
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Yep, a quintessential illustration of chutzpah even in the face of the divine. Jews take it as a matter of course that we are obligated both to think for ourselves, and to question authority.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:05 am 
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Which is why my former Episcopal priest was known to tell his thoroughly Christian congregants, "I wish you were all Jews! Then you might actually wrestle with scripture -- and even with God -- instead of passively accepting whatever your Sunday school teacher told you when you were 5 years old."

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 Post subject: Re: What is Jewishness?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:03 am 
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"A seder is a political philosophy seminar disguised as a drinking game. #PassoverisPolitical"

The Twitter thread starts here: https://twitter.com/sirosenbaum/status/ ... 6243194880

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 Post subject: Re: What is Jewishness?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:09 am 
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That was very interesting! Thank you for sharing. :)

Pesach Sameach!

(Hope that's right!)

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