I was born Jewish. that's...kind of the way it works for Jews. if your mom was Jewish, so are you. end of story. you might not want
to be Jewish, and that's ok - you don't have to be. if you weren't
born Jewish, and you do
want to be, you can convert, which is easier said than done I suppose, but it's an option that exists. I don't think Jewish people go out and actively recruit new members, but I certainly don't know everything there is to know about Judaism - more at barely knowing anything when it comes to organized religion, past being a neutral observer of a spiritual nature while feeling connected to the traditions as they are preserved through the different temples I have visited throughout my life, without much regularity. religion is a touchy subject, and all kinds of people have all kinds of feelings about it - sometimes, rather strong ones. sometimes, those 'rather strong feelings' can turn into violent behavior, and that's where my not caring ends. I
have some rather strong feelings when it comes to violence against people on the basis their religion - it's Not ok. everyone has a right to worship how they see fit - as long as they're not hurting anyone against their will
- and they should be left to their particular practices in peace. unfortunately, that's still not the case in many places around the world, in our supposedly 'advanced' society/civilization, and while it was the discussion on the rise of anti-semitism under our current political regime that brought me to the page, I decided I needed to do a little research before I addressed that topic.
|mixed media collage "Chag Purim Sameach - Purim Happiness" by Debbie Gorin|
here's what I learned: there are three main 'branches' of Judaism, otherwise known as 'movements, streams, flavors, or denominations', and subsets of each. they consist of Orthodox
(Haredi, Hasidic, Modern), Conservative
, and Reform
(Liberal or Progressive). there are also Reconstructionists, Renewal and Humanistic branches, Karaites, and more.
In Israel, these groups are referred to a bit differently than they are in the US, with the completely religious people being the Haredim, the 'basically religious' people as Datiim, traditional or conservative people known as Masoratim, and the secular folks as Hilonim.
modern Jews are descended from many ancient sects, such as Samaritans, Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, and Zealots, with many ethnic and cultural divisions as well, which include being of Ashkenazi, Sephardic, or Mizrachi descent, depending on where your ancestors hailed from. there are also Ethiopian Jews, the Abayudaya in Uganda, and other sects, all over the world.
some of our ancient groups had special duties in the daily life of the religion, such as the Kohanim, who are the descendants of the sons of Aaron, and serve as 'priests' in the temples, and the Levites - descendants of the tribe of Levi - who worked as musicians, singers, guards, and gatekeepers in the temples as well. the rest of us are just known as Israelites - members of the other 10 tribes of Israel.
I myself am an Israelite, as I have no idea what tribe of Israel I'm descended from, but I know I'm not a Kohan or a Levy, because one knows such things. I was raised in the Ashkenazi tradition, though one line of my ancestry boasts Sephardic heritage, and while my grandparents were more Conservative, my parents tried out being Reform though they weren't big into temple life at all, and I for my small part got closest to Reconstructionist, but only at a glance. I go here and there, as the need arises, which it does on occasion during a holiday, or following a death in the family. in Israeli life, I'd be Hilonim.
there is religious violence happening all over the world, and I was going to link 15 different sources of information on the various conflicts and where they're taking place, which I may still do, but I don't have the energy at the moment because there's been too much anti-semitic rhetoric in the news lately, and it makes me want to say So much to So many people, that I get exhausted just thinking about engaging in all that talk with many who don't even understand the issues, so I just back up and close my mouth, and watch the incompetent debate the uninformed, and feel I don't even have a say in a discussion that concerns me personally, and how hurtful that is, especially given my own issues...
in any case, be nice to each other. especially
to people who are different from you. enough war over insignificant things. even if it's just an excuse for war, or conflict of any kind, it needs to stop. tolerance is the order of the day, and we need to actively participate in seeing that goal achieved, to the point of making ourselves uncomfortable for as long as it takes for the playing field to even out for everyone. I want to link this post to ABC Wednesday (now that it's Thursday) and move on, because 'real- life' threw me a curve, and I need to deal with it. see you next week~